To Do My Father’s Will

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.”
Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”

  • Matthew 26:39-42

“A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.

  • John 16:32

I and the Father are one.”

  • John 10:30

“ ‘Christ was God by nature and made use of a will which was naturally divine and paternal, for he had but one will with his Father. He was also man by nature and made use of a naturally human will, which was in no way opposed to the Father’s will.’ (Theological and Polemical Works: Short Note)
“ ‘If anyone does not confess, in accordance with the holy fathers, that exactly and truthfully the two wills of the one and same Christ our God, divine and human, are continuously united and that it follows that he is [the author] of our salvation through each of his natures, voluntarily and naturally, let him be condemned.’ (
Canon 10 of Lateran council of 649, at which Maximus played a leading role).
“God, and so also the divine, is comprehensible from a certain point of view, incomprehensible from others. Comprehensible in the contemplation of his attributes, incomprehensible in the contemplation of his essence.’ (
Centuries on Charity 4.7)”

  • Tony Lane, A Concise History of Christian Thought

Maximus the Confessor (580-662), also known as Maximus the Theologian and Maximus (or Maximos) of Constantinople, renounced his secular world to become a monk in 614.  As the Persians invaded, he escaped to Rome.  Then when Pope Martin was exiled, he was captured, and returned to Constantinople.  He was pressured to accept the “one will” concept, but he escaped.  After being captured and returned to Constantinople again to be tortured, his last year of his life was as an exile, yet again.  Maximus is thought to be the father of Byzantine Theology by many.

Maximus felt that Jesus had a will that matched His Father’s will in that they are One.  But Jesus also had a human will.  Because Jesus was without sin, He did not go against His father’s will, but it was an important distinction for Maximus that Jesus had the capacity to go against His Father’s will.  It was not in Christ’s nature to go against His Father, but being fully human he had the capacity to do so.

Jesus shared our temptations and He resisted.  If He only had the Father’s will, what point would there be in tempting Him? Maximus’ point is a logical progression when reading the Gospels.  Yet, the theologians of the time could not wrap their heads around how Jesus could be fully human and fully God.

Thus, the last quote from Maximus explains that some things about God are comprehensible, some things are not comprehensible, and yet other things are not comprehensible until we are illumined more by the Holy Spirit.

That last option in comprehending who God is should encourage us to never quit reading the Bible.

When I first accepted Jesus, the flood gates opened in my mind.  As a family, my parents and older siblings read the Bible every night before bedtime.  I had read, or had read to me, the entire Bible at least 15 times by the time I accepted Jesus Christ, but when I accepted Him, the next day everything that I read in the Bible had new meaning.  It made sense.

But now more than fifty years later, I can stumble upon a passage in Scripture and exclaim, “I never knew this was here.  I missed it before!”  I had read the words before, but now that I have grown in the faith (and still much further to go in growth) I found new understanding.  Maximus sounds like he is allowing us to not strive to learn because some things are not within our grasp, but he is telling us to strive with more urgency.  Some things may be beyond our grasp, but we will only discover that when God has revealed even more of himself.

To the pure philosopher, this seems to be a copout. Everything must be understood and explained, but in theology, we need that incomprehensible element.  We will never fully grasp every aspect of our Savior until we meet Him face to face.  But if we are to be with Him forever, our greatest desire should be that we know as much about Him as we can.

If you like these Tuesday morning essays about philosophy and other “heavy topics,” but you think you missed a few, you can use this LINK. I have set up a page off the home page for links to these Tuesday morning posts. I will continue to modify the page as I add more.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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