This tweet caught my eye: “7-year-old Brody Stephens has leukemia, but that hasn’t stopped him from playing basketball and inspiring NBA stars like Steph Curry.” The tweet was accompanied by a video of Brody dribbling and shooting, along with a gallery of athletes he has met with and encouraged.
When someone chooses courage in the face of overwhelming obstacles, their decision inspires the rest of us. I believe that’s one reason why Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane on Maundy Thursday is recorded in Scripture. We don’t need to know about his prayer to know that he was arrested and then executed. His disciples were asleep and did not hear his agonizing surrender to God; either Jesus or the Holy Spirit revealed to them his decision.
Our Father wants us to know of his Son’s faithfulness so we can choose to follow his example. Jesus’ prayer is our model: “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42).
The word “nevertheless” is found 245 times in the Bible (in thirteen translations). For instance, the Jebusites “said to David, ‘You will not come in here'” (2 Samuel 5:6). “Nevertheless, David took the stronghold of Zion, that is, the city of David” (v. 7). The psalmist testified, “When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, I was brutish and ignorant; I was a beast toward you. Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand” (Psalm 73:21–24).
It takes “nevertheless” faith to serve Jesus when the crowds turn from “Hosanna!” to “Crucify!” It takes “nevertheless” faith to follow him when his disciples forsake him. It takes “nevertheless” faith to join him at his cross and tomb. But “nevertheless” faith is rewarded by the One who, despite all circumstances, is nevertheless God.
On this Maundy Thursday, remember with Thomas a Kempis: “We usually know what we can do, but temptation shows us who we are.” Watch how the enemy tempts you to fail your Lord and turn his tests into opportunities for prayer, faith, and victory.
On this Maundy Thursday, remember with Mother Angelica: “Every time I say ‘no’ to a small temptation, I strengthen my will to say ‘no’ to a greater one.” Choose to follow Jesus today so you can follow him tomorrow.
On this Maundy Thursday, remember with Oswald Chambers: “God never gives us discernment so that we may criticize, but that we may intercede.” When you discern that others are failing your Lord, pray for them. And pray that you do not join them.
On this Maundy Thursday, remember with Francis Schaeffer: “Biblical orthodoxy without compassion is surely the ugliest thing in the world.” Choose to love Jesus by loving those for whom he died. Including yourself.
And on this Maundy Thursday, remember with Thomas Merton: “The biggest human temptation is to settle for too little.” Settle for nothing less than faith that moves mountains and calms seas.
Why do you need “nevertheless” faith today?
NOTE: To read my Maundy Thursday website devotional, click here. Also, I invite you to join me at Dallas Baptist University for the eighth annual Easter Eve Service. We will meet on Saturday, April 15, at 6:00 PM in Pilgrim Chapel. I will share a message from God’s word as we celebrate our Risen Lord together. I welcome you to bring any family and friends who may wish to join us for this special service. There will be a reception at 5:00 PM and 7:00 PM.
Jim Denison, Ph.D., speaks and writes on cultural and contemporary issues. He produces a daily column which is distributed to more than 113,000 subscribers in 203 countries. He also writes for The Dallas Morning News, The Christian Post, Common Call, and other publications.