The Gospel and Surrender

 

A couple of weeks ago Ritchie gave us this definition of “surrender” (Merriam-Webster):

 

a : to yield to the power, control, or possession of another upon compulsion or demand

b : to give up completely or agree to forgo especially in favor of another

 

“Surrender” is one of those words that make my stomach tense. Why? Because in my flesh I don’t want to give up “my rights” and “my control.” I’m getting married in June to my very best friend (woohooo!!!) and through all of the marriage preparations I’ve seen how incredibly selfish I am. And I doubt that would contribute to a happy, healthy marriage!  As arrogant as it sounds, lurking in my flesh is the desire to be “in charge” of my own little “kingdom.” And if you’re honest I bet you feel the same way sometimes, even if it’s subconscious.

I’ve tried to address my surrender “issues” in a lot of ways. The most effective method has been to preach the gospel to myself.

Lately I’ve been reading through Hebrews, which I highly recommend for your summer reading list! One of my favorite parts, which might seem random at first, is Hebrews 5:7- “In the days of His flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to Him who was able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverence.”

The scene that this verse is referring to was the ultimate moment of surrender. It took place right before the crucifixion: “Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and He said to His disciples, ‘Sit here, while I go over there and pray.’ And taking with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, He began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then He said to them, ‘My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with Me.’ And going a little farther He fell on His face and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.’ […] Again, for the second time, He went away and prayed, ‘My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, Your will be done.’ […] So, leaving them again, He went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again” (Matthew 26).

While He never sinned, Jesus COMPLETELY understands our battle with surrender. Not only was Jesus “sorrowful, even to death” but Luke 22 says that He was in so much agony that He literally sweat drops of blood. Why?

Jesus knew that He would experience tremendous suffering on the cross. Yes, the physical pain would be horrifying. But it was also the literal, spiritual separation that He would experience from the Father that caused Him such anxiety. Bearing our sin would also mean bearing His Father’s wrath and seeing His back turned on Him. Being God, Jesus could have chosen to reject the “cup” of God’s wrath. He had every right not to take the punishment that you & I deserved. But instead Jesus fulfilled His role as the Son and submitted to the will of the Father. He had the ultimate battle with temptation in Gethsemane, resisted it & bore God’s wrath for us.

 

What does that mean to you & me?

 

Jesus endured temporary separation from the Father so that we could be permanently united with Him.

 

 

How awesome is that?! What an incredible trade.

This satisfying, wonderful unity with the Father is what motivates us to submit to Him. Legalistic rules won’t cut it. John talks about this motivation in 1 John 1 & 2:

“This is the message we have heard from Him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with Him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin […] My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” [emphasis mine].

The longing that drove Jesus to sweat drops of blood should also be what drives us to fight sin and to surrender- the longing for fellowship with the Father. It is so much more enjoyable & satisfying than serving ourselves.

God is glorified by our reverence when we, in our desperation, ask Him for help.

 

 

The Father answered Jesus’ cries in the garden- “He was heard because of His reverence” (Hebrews 5:7). No, Jesus was not “delivered” from the cross but God did answer His prayers for His will to be done. Thankfully, we aren’t alone in our struggle to surrender to Him either.  In fact, it honors God when we ask Him for help because it shows off His sufficiency.

No matter what stage of life you’re in- student or working, single or married (or engaged!)- surrender is probably a struggle in some area. As I am entering this new season of life I’m asking the Holy Spirit for the ability to surrender daily to Christ & die to myself.

 

 


Emily is a native of Athens, GA, who never left. She graduated from the University of Georgia in 2009 and now works for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes at UGA and Watkinsville First Baptist Church. She loves spending time with college students, cheering on the Dawgs, running, and drinking an unhealthy amount of coffee.

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One Response

05.29.12

Em, I love your honesty! My selfishness and pride became very clear to me in our first month of marriage! I realized I spent much time hiding from my sin! It’s very painful when your spouse exposes your sin! Praying for you sweet sister! So blessed by you!

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