The Easter Story and Ethics



“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”

–LUKE [22:42]



Late at night in an ancient Judean garden, a man in his early thirties asked, “Are you sure this is the only way?” It was the third time that evening the young man had returned to the garden, each time with the same request: “Are you sure?” He was met by silence, but the answer was clear. The fullness of his humanity exposed, he was sweating to the point of bleeding. “Not my will but yours,” he reluctantly assented. He knew what lay ahead. Betrayal by his friends and humiliation in front of his community. An agonizing beating that would tear the skin from his back. A trek carrying his cross to a hill. Death by crucifixion. All this he and he alone had to undergo in order to connect humanity with God. In fact, he was creating a flower for humankind called Easter. (From the preface in Jesus & CO.)

“By doing “God’s will” Jesus created Easter.”

Today’s verse reveals the answer to the critical question that had to be answered before Jesus could create the Easter story. A question of “What ought He to do?” In His answer, He puts aside His human desire to avoid the pain that would follow by giving in to “what he ought to do.” He knew the struggle that would follow by agreeing to God’s way. In His humanness, Jesus desired a different way. After much prayer and thought, He gave in to God’s will and marched forward. By doing “God’s will” Jesus created Easter.]

“The fundamental question of Christian ethics is “What ought we to do?”

In our own lives we are often confronted with the question, “What ought we to do?” Certainly in our lives this we will not be confronted with a situation that is as dramatic as Jesus’s in the garden. But in every day we all have to answer the fundamental question of Christian ethics of “What ought we to do?” Sometimes the question arises hourly, perhaps even minute by minute.

The Easter story is one of salvation and freedom, but hidden in Jesus’s struggle in the garden is the very essence and answer of what it takes to be an ethical Christian. While the answer seems simple, follow Gods will, it is hard to always comply. We are often beset by the temptation to walk away or ignore the right path. We may become offended by our neighbor or face a task that will require us to suffer short term pain. But when we model Jesus’s behavior in the garden we reach higher places. We walk the longer road that is shorter. We put out fires with the “living water” and not gasoline.

This Easter, let us all consider the question that Jesus dealt with in the garden, “What ought we to do?”


Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman



How often do we think about, “What ought we to do?”

What problem arose this day that had to be resolved?