Submission … It isn't a word we particularly like. But the Son of God Himself sets the ultimate example by submitting to His Father's will.
In John 17:1, we read, "Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, 'Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You …'"
In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed, "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will" (Matthew 26:39).
And what was the will of God in this situation?
Acts 4:27-28 says, "… truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place." (emphasis mine)
God brought about His sovereign will via the sins of many people, but would God honor these individuals for the role they played in His Son's crucifixion? Of course not.
In 1 Peter 3:17, we read, "It is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil."
Sometimes, Christians suffer, not because of their sin but because of the sin of others. Still, whatever God sovereignly decrees always comes to pass. And it's always for His glory and the good of His children.
In addition to God's sovereign will, there is "the will of command."
There are many commands in the Scriptures. These commands reflect the will of God for us. Yet, each one of us is guilty of disobeying these commands on a regular basis—even after we come to saving faith.
When Jesus went to the cross, was He obeying a command or was He submitting to the sovereign, undeniable will of His Father? It is clearly the latter.
In verse 1 of John 17, Jesus begins His prayer conversationally. Instead of saying "our father" or "the Father" (as He has done on other occasions), He simply says, "Father."
I believe He does this for two reasons.
Jesus reveals a measure of the intimacy we are invited to experience.
Even so, we must never forget the Father's holiness and majesty. We should never take it for granted, and we should never take it lightly. When we pray, we're entering into the presence of the God who created the universe and is fully and completely sovereign over all things. The only reason we're able to access Him is because of Jesus, not because of anything we've done. The privilege of calling God Father should inspire humility, gratitude, and reverence in each of us.
Jesus reveals more of who He is.
By referring to God in a personal way, He acknowledges His submission to the Father. Still, Jesus is part of the Trinity. The Father, Son, and Spirit have the same essence, nature, and glory, but each One has a different role when it comes to how God relates to the world. And what we get to see here is the relationships that exist among God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
Numerous times, Jesus said, "The hour has come." And what hour was that? It was time for Him to go to the cross. This was the Father's will, and He was well aware of it.
In John 17:3, we read, "And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent."
One of the words that should stand out to us is the word sent. I encourage you to underline it in your Bible. Jesus is referring to His purpose in coming to Earth. He was sent by His Father. In fact, John refers to Jesus being sent 41 times in his gospel. John wanted us to know that Jesus lived always knowing His purpose for coming to Earth: to accomplish the work the Father sent Him to do (John 17:4).
Unlike Jesus, who knew the Father's sovereign plan ahead of time, we don't know God's plan. But what we do know is that we can trust Him. Even when we're experiencing hardships and heartaches, God is completely sovereign over all things. We can endure whatever comes, knowing that God reigns and that He directs all of history.