Jesus was in melt-down mode. Like someone in a nightmare, he could see the cup before his eyes. No, not the cup he shared with his companions a few hours ago but the cup he had asked James and John if they could drink. It was the cup of death by torture, death by humiliation and death in the public eye full of suffering and pain. It was death by one of the cruelest methods ever devised by humanity.
At this point he was weighing his options, literally begging God to find some other way of accomplishing his purpose. Here in Gethesemane, he was fighting the spiritual and emotional battle he needed to win. And he fought it in private. Yet, he did have a choice.
Often our greatest battles are fought in private. In The Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins finds himself creeping down a tunnel towards a sleeping dragon. Failure of his mission means death for him and his companions. In the darkness of the tunnel he fights the battle he needs to win to go forward. He, too, fought it in private with himself. He too had a choice.
Both Jesus and Bilbo had the choice t go forward on their declared missions. Either or both could have chosen to abandon it. Bilbo could have put on his ring, walked out of the cave and returned to the Shire, and Jesus could have opted to leave everything behind and lived a normal safe live in some hidden part of the world.
Both, however, chose to fulfill his purpose.
We, too, have choices everyday – not so drastic as Jesus’ nor so dangerous as Bilbo’s, but choices nonetheless. Daily we have to choose to follow God or to follow ‘the devices and desires of our own heart.’ And we, too, choose in private. We can freely choose to put ourselves first. Do the expedient thing in our business or in our relationships. To place personal gain over all else and ignore what our faith tells us to do. Fortunately, our choices are usually not so faith-shaking, though. Most often our choices to follow or reject God’s call are simply our everyday choices of how we act toward others – those in need; those who are cold, or hungry or who are used or abused by society. We can ignore them or we can choose to be Jesus to them. Even so these choices can be difficult.
We know we can make these choices correctly because Jesus – our brother – is our model. If he could choose to follow God’s will each day, then, by his example and with his help, so can we – – –
Holy Lord Father, Help me each day to choose afresh to follow you wherever you lead me and give me the courage to act for you. Amen
— George Burnett