Three In One
Three In One
Jesus revealed sovereign love in everything He said and did, but I think the clearest way to perceive and know this love is through His relationship with Father and Holy Spirit.
When I look at their friendship—I see perfect union displayed through a mutual surrendering of one to another. I see self-giving, other-centered love. I see trust and intimacy. I see righteousness, peace, and joy—the family expression of the Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.
Three persons, three wills, three personalities, and in everything, they are in union. There is never a quarrel regarding roles, never a struggle for power or a clash of wills. In all things, they are perfectly one.
And Jesus prayed that we would know this same relationship, “I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.” 1
How is this possible?
I would like to suggest it’s about control… but not the control we have so often been shackled with. No, this is a self-control empowered in union with a Greater Love…
Not My Will, But Yours Be Done
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 1
Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane when He prayed this. He was in such emotional anguish that He sweat drops of blood. He knew He was about to experience the greatest horror of His life. He was headed to a cross where He would feel the heartbreaking sense of separation—the fruit from The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
Jesus told us He only did what He saw His Father do 2 and only said what He heard His Father say. 3 Jesus didn’t take a breath outside the wonder of His Father’s company. He didn’t make a move without the infilling presence of Holy Spirit.
Every thought, every experience, every heartbeat was a display of mutual, self-giving, other-centered love—the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit walking as One. Jesus lived every moment immersed in the lavish surrender of perfect love and the liberty of consent—sure in His Father, confident in the Holy Spirit.
That didn’t change in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus was no less in His Father and no less filled with Holy Spirit when He prayed, “Not my will, but yours be done.” 4
My point? If we interpret this interaction between Jesus and His Father through the lens of separation—the narrative of control—we might conclude that somehow, just this once, there was a wrestling match within the Godhead. As though God the Father was demanding God the Son bow to His will. But that’s just not true!
When Jesus, one with His Father, prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me,” 5 He was echoing His Father’s breaking heart. After all, Jesus only said what His Father was saying.
And when Jesus, filled with Holy Spirit, said, “Not my will, but yours be done,” the Father and Holy Spirit were saying it right back to Him. After all, Jesus only did what the Father was doing.
Please get this, Jesus’ prayer wasn’t revealing some cosmic battle of wills; this was not a Son capitulating to the authoritarian demands of a controlling Father. This was surrender—mutual, self-giving, other-centered love; three powerfully free individuals consenting one to another, revealing what it is to be perfectly yielded to each other in the most significant circumstantial tension of history.
And in this surrendered agreement, Jesus went to the cross on behalf of the Trinity.
Jesus “told His disciples just before going to the cross, “Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me.” 6 There is no separation in the incarnation, not even at the cross!
Jesus, perfectly in control…of Himself—in mutual, self-giving, other-centered love, for the sake of the world—so we might know union—chose to surrender His very life.
The Father and Holy Spirit, perfectly in control…of Themselves—in mutual, self-giving, other-centered love, for the sake of the world—so we might know union—chose to surrender Jesus even unto death.
“For God so loved the world He gave…”
Triune Love, mutual, self-giving, other-centered sovereign Love, for the joy set before Him, free and in complete control of Himself, chose to endure the cross, scorning its shame. 8 And He forever exposed the lie of separation and forever destroyed the bondage of sovereign control so we could be free.
This article is excerpted from Free To Choose, chapter thirteen of, God Is (Not) In Control: The Whole Story Is Better Than You Think
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“In God Is (Not) In Control, Jason gives us the liberty to color outside the lines of our many unperceived biases about God. He courageously addresses the “logic of love,” which always leads us on a journey from knowing, to not knowing, to a new knowing…This book is an invitation to those who realize that if we are afraid of the answers, we will never ask the hard questions. I applaud Jason for the courage he’s demonstrated to reintroduce us to a God who is immeasurably good and relentlessly loves us regardless of where we are on our journey.”
—Dr. Randall Worley
Author of Brush Strokes of Grace, Wandering and Wondering, & A Manifesto for Spiritual Searchers