“They came to a place named Gethsemane; and He said to His disciples, ‘Sit here until I have prayed.’ And He took Peter and James and John, and began to be very distressed and troubled. And he said to them, ‘My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death; remain here and keep watch.’ And He went a little beyond them, and fell to the ground and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass Him by. And He was saying, ‘Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what you will.’” (Mark 14:32-36)
At the moment that Jesus would be betrayed by Judas and handed over to the Jewish religious leaders, and later, to a Roman governor in order to be crucified, Jesus wanted to please his Father. “And He was saying, ‘Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what you will.’” Jesus died on the cross for the glory and pleasure of his Father, above all.
Yesterday morning, we sang this: “Like a rose trampled on the ground: he took the fall, and thought of me, above all.” It is a beautiful song, here in just 5 words, marred by very bad man-centered theology. Above all other things, Christ didn’t think of me while he was dying on the cross. He thought of his Father, above all. Christ died on the cross to please the Father (and it pleased the Father that Christ would die on the cross to save sinners to the glory of God the Father). This is good news because Christ is “the bread of life; he who comes to [Him] will not hunger, and he who believes in [Him] will never thirst” (John 6:35). With that, Jesus says, “This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:39-40).
Jesus “came down from heaven, not do do [His] own will, but the will of Him who sent [Him]” (John 6:38). I think that helps make things plain. Christ was grieving in Gethsemane the night that he would be betrayed because he knew that redemption for God’s children would require his death on the cross. Is. 53:5 says that “the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” While on the cross, the Son of God was forsaken by his Father and the cup of God’s wrath was spilled out upon him (2 Cor. 5:21). This is good news because God loved his sinless Son, and raised him three days later. Also, this is good news for us because Christ loves to do what pleases the Father, and it pleased the Father to give us Christ that his righteousness might be ours (cf. Luke 24:45-49), and that we might honor and worship Christ as his sheep, forever, to the glory of God our Father. The gospel is God-centered and that is wonderful good news.
The good news that comes along with that is: God loves his children, and therefore, he sent his Son to die on the cross for them (see John 3:16-17, 6:40; cf. Acts 3:17-19; Eph. 1:4; Col. 1:19-20; 1 John 5:12). Also, God loves his glory and he is greatly glorified by justly redeeming (see Matt. 5:17-18; Acts 13:38; Eph. 1:4-8) his children from the trappings of their sin (see John 1:12-13; Rom. 3:10-18).
In other words, God’s love for us, Christ’s love for us, is a part of God’s glorious character (e.g. Ps. 145:8; Eph. 2:4-6). He didn’t put us before himself by sending Christ to the cross. He glorified himself by saving us from our sins (see Phil. 2:6-11). The praise he is given for what he did on the cross is also our gain! Therefore, we were made righteous and given the riches of God’s grace through Jesus Christ. With that, I do also believe that Christ thought of me on the cross (cf. Matt. 18:10-14; John 10:3-4, 11, 14-15; 17:9-12, 20-24; Gal. 5:1), but he thought of pleasing the Father first (cf. Matt. 22:37-38; John 4:34; 12:27-28; 14:3; 17:4; Acts 2:23-24), above all other things (cf. Rom. 11:33-36).