“And He took with Him Peter and the two sons
of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.
Then saith He unto them, My
soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with Me.
And He went a little further,
and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, O My Father, if it be possible, let
this cup pass from Me: nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt.
And He cometh unto the
disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not
watch with Me one hour?
Watch and pray, that ye enter
not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
He went away again the second
time, and prayed, saying, O My Father, if this cup may not pass away from Me,
except I drink it, Thy will be done.
And He came and found them
asleep again: for their eyes were heavy.
And He left them, and went
away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.
Then cometh He to His
disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the
hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.” (Matt.
What is surrender if it doesn’t
hurt? What is surrender if we are not at our wits’ end?
“They mount up to the heaven,
they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble.
They reel to and fro, and
stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits’ end.” (Ps. 107:26,27).
Isn’t that what we see in
Jesus? He was at His wit’s end. All His life His constant, happy song to His Father had been David’s. “Thou wilt shew Me the path of life: in Thy presence is fulness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” (Ps. 16:11).
But, now the only song that
came so painfully from His tormented, down turned mouth was, “O My Father, if
it be possible, let this cup pass from Me.” (Matt. 26:39). How to escape the sudden dismaying loss of the former, excellent atmosphere of His Abba’s blissful presence was uppermost in His immediate reaction to the sudden, total evacuation of His Father’s peace. Jesus was drinking
the cup of “the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup
of His [Father’s] indignation; and [He was] tormented with fire and brimstone
in the presence of the holy angels,… And the smoke of [His] torment [ascended]
up for ever and ever: and [He had] no rest day nor night.” (Rev. 14:10,11).
As so many times before, the
Son of God was truly “beside Himself” (Mk. 3:21). But, this was not a physical
distress, as it had been during His whole life. What came over Him in Gethsemane was different. “The chastisement of our peace was upon Him.” (Isa.
53:5). It was the guilt of ten billion unpardonable sins that weighed so heavily upon Jesus. Haven’t we experienced the chastisement of our peace? The whole world—all who have ever lived—has, or it all couldn’t have been put upon Him for the whole world. The whole world’s incomprehensible, accumulated unmet
emotional need, the depression, the world’s infinite sadness, Jesus’ yearning to lean
wholly upon His beloved Abba. His spiritual pangs were completely out of His
control. All He could do was what He had already practiced under previous
trials—seek His Father with all that was within Him—talk to God until He was heard. And
He was heard, but without a satisfying reply.
“Who in the days of His
flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and
tears unto Him that was able to save Him from death, and was heard in that He
feared; though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He
suffered; and being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation
unto all them that obey Him.” (Heb. 5:7-9).
Everything within us must be
challenged. The very life of our soul must be on the verge of collapse. We must
know what Mary said to Christ, “they have taken away my Lord, and I know not
where they have laid Him.” (John 20:13). Distraught, distressed beyond measure,
the Man of infinite sorrows knew infinite surrender. And infinite surrender
didn’t come until He was not only fully cast down, but infinitely destroyed.
Not until Christ was lost, guilty of the unpardonable sin and disoriented, and stripped of all restful peace could we identify
with His identical human experience with us, which He coveted. Then we could be
found with peace and rest in Him. He must know all that has caused us sorrow in
our separation from God; and if we follow His example, then in our infinite sorrow He will teach us
surrender. In the midst of our sorrow we must say with our Lord, “…nevertheless
not as I will, but as Thou wilt” (Matt. 26:39).
Surrender is full of sorrow,
and sorrow is full of surrender. It’s not surrender until we have lost our
life. If it wasn’t painful to surrender up our sins then we haven’t surrendered
them up. “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose
his life for My sake shall find it.” (Matt. 16:25). “He that findeth his life
shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for My sake shall find it.” (Matt.
10:39). Surrender is of our will, our sins, our spiritual life, and the
ultimate surrender is of our literal, actual life. And when that happens we won’t
have friends and family standing around to witness it and congratulate us, as
in water baptism. We will be among enemies, or alone in the world. Only faith
will prevail then, faith that sees a ring of fiery angels surrounding us. By
faith we must see “an innumerable company of angels,… the general assembly and
church of the Firstborn, which are written in heaven, and … God the Judge of
all, and … the spirits of just men made perfect, and … Jesus the mediator of
the new covenant.” (Heb. 12:22-24).
All the tests and trials and distresses that
took us to our wits’ lead up to that ultimate surrender.
“Oh that men would praise the
LORD for His goodness, and for His
wonderful works to the children of men!
And let them sacrifice the
sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare His works with rejoicing.
They that go down to the sea
in ships, that do business in great waters;
These see the works of the LORD, and His wonders in the deep.
For He commandeth, and
raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof.
They mount up to the heaven,
they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble.
They reel to and fro, and
stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits’ end.
Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and He bringeth them out of their
He maketh the storm a calm,
so that the waves thereof are still.
Then are they glad because
they be quiet; so He bringeth them unto their desired haven.
Oh that men would praise the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the
children of men!
Let them exalt Him also in
the congregation of the people, and praise Him in the assembly of the elders.”
Every opportunity to
surrender to self-denial is preparation for the final surrender of self. If we
aren’t willing to concede to those smaller baptisms of fire, we will come up to
the final surrender and final baptism of fire unprepared. We will fail out of
final surrender of self and deny the Lord as Peter did.
“I am come to send fire on
the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled? But I have a baptism to
be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!” (Luke
12:49,50). God, our Schoolmaster, first sends us the torturous trouble, guilt, shame, and chastisement of our peace. Then He brings us to Jesus to be justified by the faith that comes out of the suffering and surrender to both the authority of God to condemn sin and the mercy of His Son to win our loyalty to righteousness.
Of the Lord John the Baptist said, “I indeed baptize you with
water unto repentance: but He that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose
shoes I am not worthy to bear: He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and
with fire.” (Matt. 3:11).
The ultimate surrender was
demonstrated by Paul. “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my
departure is at hand.” (2Tim. 4:6). As he wrote in his last letter,
“I have fought a good fight,
I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up
for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall
give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His
appearing.” (2Tim. 4:7,8).
Paul had fought an
uphill battle his whole life. And he came to the point that he relished the
sacrifice of self. But, unlike his Master on the cross, Paul had perfect peace. He had been cast down but not destroyed, persecuted, but not forsaken. Therefore, he had certainty of salvation and knew he would
be received by the Lord at His appearing. Paul could say, “For the which cause
I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I
have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have
committed unto Him against that day.” (2Tim. 1:12). Perfect identification with
his Lord gave Paul perfect hope and perfect steadfastness that kept disillusionment
from shaming him, even when he looked abandoned by men.
“For I know that my Redeemer
liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though
after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes
shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.” (Job
Paul had the anointing that
maketh not ashamed. “And now, little children, abide in Him; that, when He
shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before Him at His
coming.” (1Jn. 2:28). “Hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed
abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” (Rom. 5:5).
Paul knew suffering and
surrender like his Master, and was prepared to meet Him at His return. “Blessed
are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of
life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” (Rev. 22:14).
Have we suffered and
surrendered with Jesus in our own suffering and surrender? Do we have perfect certainty of salvation in His resurrection from the dead?