Going a little farther, He fell with His face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as You will." (Matthew 26:39)
Around 786 BC, we read of a man named Jonah who God chose to send on a mission to preach to a vast, Gentile city. In Jonah’s mind they were Pagans, not even fit to pollute the good earth by living on it. They were the “untouchables”. How could God show any interest in them?
He sets off from Joppa, once the oldest sea port in the world, but, instead of running towards his mission, he is fleeing from it. This famous account sees the reluctant prophet spending three days in the belly of a whale before he is convicted to obey God and complete his mission. That message saw that vast city repent of their sins and turn to God.
Fast forward almost 800 years and we see another reluctant servant of God in Joppa; this time it’s Peter, one of Jesus’ apostles.
Peter had been told by the resurrected Jesus to ‘go and make disciples of all nations’ but, reluctant to preach to Gentiles, Peter needed a vision from God, on a rooftop in Joppa, to send him north along the coast to Caesarea. This historic journey results in the first Gentiles receiving the gospel of Jesus Christ and being baptised in the Holy Spirit. This was the first, of what would become billions of Gentiles following Jesus Christ down through the millennia.
Sometime between AD 30 and AD 33, we see a man, late at night, praying in agony in a garden, facing a commission more momentous than that of Jonah or Peter. He didn’t run in the opposite direction like Jonah, or stall reluctantly like Peter; He accepted His commission, in spite of our sinfulness, and gladly went on to save humanity from its sin.
Aren’t you glad that Jesus didn’t flee in a ship like Jonah or procrastinate like Peter? Aren’t you glad beyond words that He willingly shouldered the cross for all mankind?
Like Jesus, let us not be slow to say “Yet not as I will, but as you will” when we face our Ninevehs, Caesareas and and Gethsemanes.
Pauline Ann Anderson
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