Monday, December 8, 2014

The Great Lesson of Gethsamane

Life of Christ 168

          It is after midnight on Wednesday morning. These are the last few moments of freedom Jesus has prior to His arrest in just a little while. He must prepare Himself for all that is coming. So much of this last day He has spent preparing the Apostles but now He must see to His own spiritual needs. So He comes, as He often did, to the lovely glade of Gethsamane to pour out His soul in prayer.
          After arriving He first separates the Apostles into two groups, one of Peter, James, and John, and the other with the rest. He lays out before these three Apostles the burden of His heart and begs them to pray for Him. (Matthew 26.37-38) He then leaves them in order to find a quiet spot of His own in which to pray. (Matthew 26.39) He prays for a while, and then returns to check back with Peter, James, and John. When He finds them asleep He responds with the burden of a great sorrow (Matthew 26.40) and asks them, once again, to pray for Him in His time of need. (Matthew 26.41) Leaving again, He makes His way back to a quiet corner and opens up His heart to His Heavenly Father. (Matthew 26.42) Returning to Peter, James, and John unbelievably He finds them asleep again. In weariness of soul, spirit, and body He turns without waking them and goes back to His quiet corner to pray for the third time. (Matthew 26.43-44) And for the second time on this, the longest day that any human being has ever lived, the Heavenly Father tenderly strengthens the Son for what He is about to face. (Luke 22.43) Finally, having prayed through, so to speak, and accessed the grace and strength He needs to face the horror of Calvary He returns to the Apostles. He wakes them, informs them His hour has come, and the quiet lovely little glade is overwhelmed with booted tramp of a cohort of Roman soldiers. (Matthew 26.45-46)
Gethsamane, Adam Abram, 2008
         This is a sacred scene to all who love the Lord. He is overcome with a burdensome sorrow and those closest to Him completely fail to minister to Him. He wrestles alone with the Lord in great agony of spirit, repeatedly, and obtains the strength He needs to face the cross. There are lessons here about friendship. There are lessons here about patience. There are lessons here about failure. There are lessons here about faith. There are lessons here about prayer. There are lessons here about all kinds of things but one particular facet of Christ's character shone brightly in that midnight hour – obedience to the will of His Heavenly Father.
          Many years ago when I first began studying the life of Christ I came across a statement in Edersheim's massive tome. He said that the outstanding characteristic of the life of Christ was His obedience to His Heavenly Father. At first, in my simplicity, I disagreed with him. Surely it must have been His miracles. After all, no other human being on the planet had ever walked on water, fed thousands with one lunch, cleansed lepers, healed the blind, cast out devils, and repeatedly raised the dead. Or perhaps it was His holiness. After all, no other human being had ever lived a completely sinless life. Or perhaps it was that He began the world's largest, best, and most enduring religion. Or perhaps it was His atoning death. After all, no one can pay for their own sins let alone the entirety of humanity's. Choosing something amazing about the life of Christ is like going to an exceptional buffet – it is all amazing. Yet as time passed I found myself gradually growing into agreement.
Saying that the most outstanding characteristic of His life is His obedience to the Father does not take away from anything Jesus did in any area. What it does do, however, is bring His life in some small way down to our level. Beloved, you and I are not going to walk on water. Well, I can occasionally if it is frozen but even then it is difficult. We are not going to raise the dead or lead lives of moral perfection. We will not atone for anyone's sins. But we should and can live lives of obedience to the will of our Heavenly Father. In this He set His greatest example.
Jesus said His meat was to do the will of His Father. (John 4.34). He said that He did not seek His own will in anything. (John 5.30) He said He did not come to do His own will but to do the Father's will. (John 6.38) He said, I do always those things that please the him. (John 8.29) And thus it is that we find Him in lovely Gethsamane gazing full on into the bitter cup of Calvary – and yielding to His Father's will on the matter.

Mat 26.39 And he went a little further, 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.
Matthew 26.42 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.    
          The great question that faced Jesus in the Garden is the great question that faces you and me today. Will we do what we want to do or will we do what God wants us to do?
          I know how Jesus answered that question His whole life long.

          How will we answer it?

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