Once again, in searching through
the writings of my late father, Rev. A. Donald Magaw, I came across something he
wrote and I wanted to share it with you. It contains something that applies as
much today, if not more, than it did almost 50 years ago.
“AND HE WENT A LITTLE FARTHER” written by Rev. A. Donald Magaw
Of the thirty-three years of the earth-life of our Savior, the details of only three are given us for intimate study. And those years were lived in simple, loving service to the people. Except for his performance of miracles, and for his speaking “as man never spoke,” he lived as his beloved disciples as down through the ages have lived—sharing griefs, carrying sorrows, revealing the love and power of God in ministering to the needy.
But in the record of his last hours we are brought in contact with another phase in the life of our Lord, one that had to do with being rather than doing, a condition more vital than that from which sprang his gracious works and his wondrous words—the Son of God who was also the Son of Man, surrendering to the last degree his will to the will of God. The Holy Spirit has recorded this solemn experience for our profit, for each child of God is called to the same humble and glad submission of self.
It was the list night Jesus spent on earth. He had taken the last meal with his chosen disciples; he had conducted last “prayers” with them, had broken the bread and given them the cup. He had washed their feet. They had sung their last hymn together. And then we read:
“Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, “Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then he said unto them, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death; tarry ye here, and watch with me.”
“And he went a little farther,” and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt.”
“And he comes unto the disciples, and finds them asleep, and said unto Peter, “What ? Could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, that you enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O My Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.”
“And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy. And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.”
For many days our Lord had been approaching his passion. Knowing all, he had “set his face toward Jerusalem,” which meant Calvary for him. Let us reverently follow him as he goes forward. First, he leaves the city with its crowds. The he leaves his disciples, all but three. Lastly, he leaves all, and goes unaccompanied to make his utmost surrender to God.
He prayed once, and returned to his comrades for human sympathy and support: they failed him. He returned to the place of sacrifice; then back to the human. He left the place of utmost surrender three times. Here is a profound fact and unfathomable source of encouragement to human hearts. Finally, he left all, and…Casting himself into the will of God, into the arms of the Everlasting Father, in that act of utmost trust and utmost surrender our Savior found strength which enabled him to go all the way to Calvary. He met his betrayal with gentleness, his denial with forgiveness, the judgment hall with silence for himself, but witness for God. Buffetings, smittings and revilings he met with meekness. His murderers he met with love, his fellow sufferers with pity and compassion. And death he met with triumph!
“And he went a little farther.” That furthermost step, that act of furthermost love and trust, made him ready and able for every other hour. In every age, those souls who have gone a little farther, in love and sacrifice and trust for Jesus’ sake, are those who have made their Lord live again for those of their generation. The apostles, martyrs, great missionaries have done so.
And in our own day, do we not see them here and there—simple, holy souls who themselves have chosen the way of the cross and help us to choose the same way?
They are those who have gone a little farther in the way of self-surrender and faith in order that their lives might be heralds of and witnesses for Christ.
It is not that they are born different from other men and women, but that they chose differently. To them, as to us all, has come the heavenly vision, and they follow, follow all the way. First, they leave the spirit of the city, with its endless competitions and pleasures as they go the way of the cross. Then they have needed to leave the fellowship of numbers in their quest for power that will make them more than conquerors. And finally, the nearest and dearest must be left as the soul, stripped of self and freed from the last shreds of the poor wisdom of this world, comes in the spirit of the Lord to do all his will. In that hour they find power to carry the cross, to witness before small and great, to conquer through the blood of the lamb that was slain.
If ever the world needed such souls, it is today. On the horizons of many lands are signs of persecutions because the witness of Jesus is returning to the earth.
But here in our land of peace and plenty, there is a need as never before for the disciples of Jesus to go a little farther in self-surrender and in a covenant with God that his will shall be fulfilled in them. Are we ready for this? May this year’s past celebration of the Lord’s passion be to us a Gethsemane garden where “in the solitude of communion with God we look into the face that was marred for us and say from the depths of our soul “Thy will be done in me!”