A Prayer of Jesus I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will.
The Will of the Father
By Edgar Jones
This expression brings a whole host of ideas to the mind of the typical churchman. What occupation should I follow? Whom should I marry? Should I accept a proffered promotion? Peace on earth, universal prosperity and happiness, the end of sickness and disease – how can I contribute to them? Should my country become involved in war?
Not so to the mind of Jesus. When we have listened to him, we see that to him this expression conveyed one unique and specific idea having no particular relevance to any of those other things. To him, the will of the Father signified, exclusively, one specific thing, and it was that one thing that he had come to the earth to perform. I submit the following utterances for our consideration:
1. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. (John 6:38)We will not err if we think of Jesus as one who had come down from heaven for the purpose of doing the will of the Father as stated in (1). His total earthly experience was focused on this one commission. It would seem to follow that the will of the Father had never yet been done on earth, for then Jesus would not have had to come down from heaven to do it. Neither will we err if we think of the will of the Father as being a specific action having no relevance to what men usually mean in speaking of the will of God.
2. Pray then like this: "Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:9,10).
3. Not every one who says to me, "Lord, Lord," shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 7:21).
4. Father, if thou art willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless not my will, but thine be done. (Luke 22;42).
5. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:40).
6. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. (John 12:25).
7. Tetelestai! (It is finished, John 19:30)
Then it follows that in the Lord's Prayer (2) Jesus was urging his disciples to pray for him, that he might prevail against all temptations to fulfill his commission by doing the will of the Father on earth as it is in heaven. It also follows that the coming of the Kingdom only awaited the doing of the will of the Father. We see the logic in this when we pause to consider that any kingdom is defined as the realm where the will of the king is done. The kingdom had not come on earth before Jesus because the will of the Father had not yet been done on earth.
Then it likewise follows that no one enters the kingdom of the Father without performing this same action identified in the mind of Jesus as the will of the Father (3). The kingdom of the Father is then defined as the realm where the will of the Father is done. Even Jesus could not enter apart from doing this specific will of the Father.
In dark Gethsemane he yet had not performed what he came to the earth to do: the will of the Father. He prayed to be relieved of the cup of bitter suffering that it entailed (4). It was there that he also urged the sleepy disciples to continue praying The Lord's Prayer, that the will of the Father be done and that his kingdom might come and that they enter not into temptation. Then he left the Garden with a victory over evil: Not my will, but thine be done! (see #1 again).
Jesus defined the will of the Father in (5), and further elaborated it in (6). The will of the Father is: that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life. But this is equated with hating one's life in this world. Therefore the will of the Father as defined by Jesus consists of hating one's life in this world, and this is what he came to the earth from heaven to do. The equivalence is seen as follows:The force of temptation on Jesus was so powerful that he might at any time have come down from the cross, which he was able to do, but then the will of the Father would not have been done. He prevailed so that when, with his last breath, he cried out Tetelestai! (It is finished) (7), he could only have meant that the will of the Father had finally been done on earth as it is in heaven! He had done what he came to do; and due to the fact that the will of the Father had been done on earth, the kingdom had come on earth. Jesus lost his life, refusing to save it, and so saved it for eternal life. That is, he hated his life in this world (6).
Let C = eternal life
Let A = Seeing the Son and believing in him
But from (5), Seeing the Son and believing in him = eternal life
Therefore, A = eternal life = C
Therefore, A = C
Let B = hating one's life in this world
But from (6), hating one's life in this world = eternal life
Therefore, B = eternal life = C
Therefore, B = C
But it is shown above that A = C
Therefore, A = B
But A = the will of the Father, also from(5),
Therefore, B (hating one's life in this world) = the will of the Father
Utterance No. 5 above is Jesus' absolute and concise definition of the will of the Father. It is that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and Jesus will raise him up on the last day. Therefore the will of the Father will only be completed in the Day of Resurrection. The will of the Father focuses exclusively on the Resurrection to eternal life following the way of the cross of Jesus. In the mind of Jesus it has no direct application to circumstances in our personal lives or in the larger world. Nevertheless the kingdom of God has come to earth in its consummation, and remains on earth for so long
as there are those who follow Jesus and do "A" and "B." Only such persons are doing the will of the Father on earth as it is done in heaven, even as Jesus first did it and showed the Way.
Everyone who would relativize the absolute will of the Father by applying it to earthly, temporal, human affairs of this life on earth is therefore fighting against God and against Jesus Christ his Son, perverting his Gospel and having the effect of rendering the work of Jesus null and void. There can hardly be a blacker sin, one that results in men warring against one another, killing and maiming one another, all in the name of God and in the blind belief that they are doing the will of the Father.
Finally, consider the lesson of the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 14:11-32). What was the will of the father, while the Prodigal remained in the far country? Was it not one thing, and one thing only, "Come home?" The father showed no interest in the Prodigal's circumstances in the far country because he was dead:
Luke 15: for this my son was dead, . . ..<>
Nor does the Father intervene in the lives of the dead on the earth who, like the Prodigal in the far country, are dead to the Father although alive in this world. He wants but one thing from us: that we, like the Prodigal Son, make the sincere resolve, "I will arise and go to my Father."The Father in his love for us wants only one thing: Children, come home!So Jesus likewise testified shortly before his crucifixion: And now (Father) I am coming to thee (John 17:13). The Prodigal arose and went to his father; likewise did Jesus. In so far as it concerns men and women, this "resurrection" is the Father's only will. Jesus has gone before us. Jesus has taught the Way. Jesus has shown the Way by remaining on the cross until the life left his body. Anything else is only the will of man. Only when we follow Jesus by entering into this same resolve and following in this same hatred of life in this world are we promised eternal life. Only then do we truly manifest love for the Father according to the Great Commandment. Only then have we done the will of the Father and qualified for discipleship according to the following utterance of our Lord:
If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake, he will save it. (Luke 9:23,24)
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