These words freeze the crowd and hang in the air.
“I volunteer as tribute!”
Tears well up and gasps are caught in our throats. These are the words of Katniss Everdeen, the heroine from the best-selling novel and now box-office hit The Hunger Games. For those of you who don’t know, Katniss volunteers to as a tribute in a brutal, gladiator style game to saver her younger sister, Prim, from having to go. There is only one winner, Katniss‘ action means almost certain death. In essence she has exchanged her own life for her sisters. It reminds me of another’s sacrifice, someone who exchanged his life for mine. I am speaking of Jesus.
Giving up our own life is hardly ever that simple though, even when it is for someone we love. Self-sacrifice is not something that we eagerly await. Even Jesus faced a tough decision when it came to the sacrifice He made for us.
English Standard Version (ESV)
And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples,“Sit here while I pray.” And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.” And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
We have seen the human side of Jesus before this, most notably with His emotions and response to the death of His friend Lazarus (John 11:1-44). But in no other place in the Gospel’s do we find Jesus laid so bare as He was in Gethsemane.
Jesus was greatly distressed and troubled (v.33). He even told Peter, James, and John of His sorrow (v.34). And the account in Luke 22 tells us He prayed so hard His sweat was like drops of blood (v.44). This decision was agonizing for Jesus. But it was this decision that made His sacrifice so powerful.
Jesus made the choice in trust, knowing His Father’s good and perfect will would see Him through. Jesus knew what He would face., knew the immense pain and suffering that awaited Him. He knew he would experience something dreadfully new to Him, separation from the Father.
Jesus’ words, “Yet not what I will, but what you will” (v.36), spoke life into a dying world. With them He laid down His life and His own will, and committed to the Father’s plan and desire to redeem humanity.
In light of Jesus choice and sacrifice, how can we do less? How can we bicker and squabble with the world around us literally going to hell? We cannot, I cannot, just stand in the crowd as others sacrifice and give their own lives for God.