Persistence is put to the test when starting any new project, because without it we lose interest and don’t complete the task. Keeping the original core desire and values is what makes persistence possible.
Explaining to the relentless crowd who had followed Him to Capernaum, Jesus said; “I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me” (John 6:38). Jesus clearly understood why He was here, to fulfil His Father’s will. We see this most clearly throughout His prayers in the garden of Gethsemane with sleepy Peter, James, and John.
Jesus heart wrenching dialogue with His Heavenly Father touches again on the possibility of avoiding the cross of Calvary the next day. However, this time there’s a change in the tone of prayer; “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done” (Matthew 26:42 NIV). The absence of an alternative way for the Father’s justice to be satisfied sealed the inevitability of His crucifixion. Therefore, Jesus prioritised doing His Father’s will over self-preservation.
Focus is primary
Jesus focus on His primary motive for coming to earth was immovable. As He considered the cost of the cross, “being in agony He prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44). Jesus understood fully the extreme cost of persisting to fulfil the Fathers will. There is an enormous lesson here which every believer needs to learn well.
While we live in an age of comfort and self-fulfilment, that is not the primary focus of those who follow Jesus as Lord. Doing the will of God is where true joy and fulfilment is found. Satisfaction comes as you “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13). It’s incredible! Just think of it. God Almighty has chosen you to bring Him pleasure by living according to His will. So profound and yet so simply.
Anyway, back to Gethsemane. Jesus returns to find His three disciples sleeping again, despite the previous exhortation to Peter, “could you not watch with me one hour?” (Mt 26:40). The drowsy disciples obviously failed to sense the seriousness of the occasion and Jesus words. Isn’t this so often just like us?
Focus repeats itself
“So, leaving them again, he (Jesus) went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again” (Mt 26:44). Preparing for the horrific task of bearing the sin of the world (Jn 1:29; Heb 9:26), Jesus needed to have unquestionable clarity. So, He prays “the same words again.” There are times when knowing the definitive will of our Heavenly Father calls for such repeated prayers. Not that God needs to hear them again, but we need to hear ourselves affirm the deepest convictions of our faith as we live our lives for Him.
God’s not a kill-joy! He really does want His people to experience pleasure in life, but not through sin and rebellion against Him. To achieve this, Christians need to persist at sticking to the task; “whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). Fellow Christian, we “have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised” (Hebrews 10:36). Together, let’s encourage one-another to persist in living for the glory of the Saviour.