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If given the chance, could you accurately summarize what you really want? How certain would you be that you wouldn’t think of something better if given more time? Or that your request wouldn’t reflect your pressing, immediate needs only? Imagine you had access to an all-powerful genie, like Aladdin in Arabian Nights, who could grant you anything you asked. What would you ask him?
Some of you might immediately respond, “I want eternal life with my family.” A noble wish. But what if you asked, “I want eternal life with my family right now” or “without any pain,” or “without any heartache.” Would that accurately reflect what you really want?
Jesus had such an experience. Jesus was born with the ability to ask and receive anything He wanted—a type of magic lamp, with unlimited wishes. His lamp was a psalm containing the following promise from His Father, which stated, “For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. . . . He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honor him” (Psalm 91:11–12,15). All Jesus had to do was ask for it and He would receive it—no matter what it was He asked for.
How often have you anticipated an impending experience and dreaded what was coming? If you had owned a magic lamp just then, would you have wished that you could avoid the experience? What about actions that had already occurred, or decisions that you had already made? Would you use your magic lamp to have them undone? Perhaps you are facing such a decision now, something that you wish you could undo. How would you use your lamp? What does this tendency within us teach us about the experience of Jesus?
At the beginning of His ministry, Jesus went “into the wilderness to commune with God” (JST, Matthew 4:1). Afterward, “the tempter came to Him” (JST, Matthew 4:3) and dared Him to use His powers to address His physical hunger: “Then Jesus was taken up into the holy city, and the Spirit setteth Him on the pinnacle of the temple” (JST, Matthew 4:5) and there challenged by the tempter, “If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone” (JST, Matthew 4:6). The devil was tempting Jesus to use His divine promise—His psalm—to prevent physical harm to Himself.
Later on in His ministry, while in Caesarea Philippi, Jesus explained to His Apostles “that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and Be killed, and be raised again the third day” (Matthew 16:21). Peter grabbed Jesus1 “and began to rebuke him, saying, be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee” (Matthew 16:22). Jesus then turned to Peter and said, “Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offense unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men” (Matthew 16:23). As brave and courageous as Peter was, he had inadvertently and ignorantly switched teams in that moment. In so doing, he reminded our ever mindful Lord that He possessed the ability to ask for a way out of the impending agony awaiting Him at Jerusalem.
Jesus, like you and me, did not like the pressure of doing something contrary to what He had already resolved Himself to do. As the “big day” approached. However, Jesus became more and more aware of His psalm— His right to use His promise. “Now is my soul troubled,” He said, “and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour” (John 12:27).
The suspense, stress, and anxiety were working upon Him in a very real way and continued until Gethsemane. There, under the crushing burden of human frailty and wickedness, the temptation for Jesus to “tap out” of the ordeal and apply His psalm was in crescendo. He prayed, “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me” (Matthew 26:39). And yet, even then, His resolve, His focus, and His will remained riveted upon His Father’s plan, and so He continued, “Nevertheless, not as I will but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39). Jesus knew what He really wanted. As the Psalmist said, “Thou [Father] hast given him [Christ] his heart’s desire, and hast not withholden the request of His lips” (Psalm 21:2).
What are your thoughts on this? Let us know in the comments!
The following was taken from the book Renewing Your Relationship with Christ, currently available at cedarfort.com.