Shadows gather, spilling gloom. Jesus and his disciples trudge toward the Garden of Gethsemane.
Jesus halts, the weight of the coming cross pressing heavily on him, sadness seeping from his pores. The Scriptures tell us, "Going a little farther, he [Jesus] 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, NIV).
But God doesn't remove the cup. Jesus' cross comes.
Decisions at Dawn
Long before this dark hour in the Garden of Gethsemane, at the dawn of Creation, Jesus agreed with his Father to defeat the Serpent of old by submitting to the Cross (Genesis 3:15).
Christ peered past the pain of submission to joy—our salvation (Hebrews 12:2). We're part of the joy set before Jesus. He submitted to the Cross because he knew no other way of reconnecting us to God. "The Wondrous Cross," as hymnist Isaac Watts called it, became a meeting place of relinquishment, relief, and relationship.
Relinquishment. Jesus' obedience to the Cross meant relinquishment. He gave up heaven to come to earth; he gave up earth to take us to heaven. He surrendered his deity and was encapsulated in an infant's frame, coming into this world in physical pain and likely experiencing emotional pain we'll never understand. Then, in the act that resounds like a trumpet throughout the centuries, he relinquished his will. He drank the cup. Christ released everything for our sake.1