Most will recognize the words of our title. They are words spoken by none other than Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as He agonized in the face of His own crucifixion that would occur just a few short hours later (Matt. 26:39). It is noteworthy that though He was the Son of God, He still sought to do the Father’s will. Jesus stated, “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me” (John 5:30). He also pointed out, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21). It is imperative that each of us understand that it is not our will that is important, but that of the Father in heaven.
In the sixteenth chapter of Matthew we read, “From that time forth began Jesus to show unto his disciples, how 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. Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offense unto me: for thou savorest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men” (Matt. 16:21-23). In this passage we see two important lessons for us concerning putting the will of the Father ahead of our own will.
First, we see that good intentions does not make our will take precedent over the will of God. Peter, no doubt had good intentions in his rejection of the death of Jesus. Though Jesus had told them that He would die and then be raised from the dead, the bodily resurrection seemed to be something they just could not grasp. When the tomb was found empty and they were told that Jesus had risen, been seen and had sent word to them that He would meet them in Galilee, they did not believe (Matt. 28:10; Mark 16:9-11). Peter loved the Lord and did not want Him to die. Yet, this was God’s will, the will that Jesus Himself placed above His own. One was the will of God and the other was the will of man. No matter the good intentions that one might have, obeying the commands of God must come first. Saul, the first king of Israel, chosen by God Himself to be the king, was given command by God to destroy the Amalekites, sparing none. Yet, Saul brought back king Agag and the best of the flocks, contrary to God’s command (I Sam. 15:1-9). When faced with his sin, Saul sought to excuse himself of blame by saying that they had brought back the best of the flocks to offer as a sacrifice to God (I Sam. 15:10-21). It is very much possible that this was nothing but an excuse, but even if he did bring them back out of the good intention of offering them as a sacrifice to God, he had disobeyed the will of God. “And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams” (I Sam. 15:22).
Secondly, what we like or think is best does not give our will priority over God’s will. Certainly Peter did not want the Lord to die. He wanted Him to live and to reign on the earth as the King of Israel. Yet, his reasoning and his desires did not change the will of God, and the Lord even told him, “…thou savorest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men” (Matt. 16:23). Neither our likes or dislikes, nor our thoughts and opinions have any precedence over the will of God. When Naaman, the captain of the Syrian army went to Elisha to be healed of his leprosy, Elisha sent a messenger to him telling him to go and wash in the Jordan seven times and his leprosy was be cleansed (II Kings 5:1-10). However, Naaman thought that the commands received were not that which should have been given. He thought that Elisha would come out, call on the name of the Lord and strike his hand over the place and he would be healed (II Kings 5:11). He reasoned that if dipping in water would do the job, the clear pristine waters of the Abana and Pharpar rivers of his homeland would do the job better than the muddy waters of the Jordan. Fortunately for Naaman, he had a servant that bravely presented common sense to him, pointing out that what he had been told came from a prophet of God and that if it had been some great thing he was told to do, he would readily obey. How much better to just wash and be clean (II Kings 5:13). It was not until Naaman set aside his own will, his own way of thinking, his own opinions and reasoning and obeyed the will of God that he was cleansed of his leprosy. No matter what we may think or like, God’s will must be heeded.
There are literally thousands of examples of man setting aside God’s will for salvation in this Christian age in favor of their own. Often these things are done with all good intentions, with no real intention to disobey the will of God. Still disobedience is sin.
Robert Oliver is pastor of The Church of Christ and a long-time columnist for The Sampson Independent. Send any questions or comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org