Jesus prayed, ‘and being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground’ (Luke 22.44).
Jesus was terrified and he prayed to God (his Father) that the suffering that was ahead of him might be taken away but he also went on to say that he would submit to God’s will.
Jesus and his disciples had come from their Passover meal that we talked about yesterday and they had gone to pray in the garden of Gethsemane.
It is interesting that Jesus left a religious gathering to go outdoors to pray.
Our relationship with God shouldn’t be just dependent on those times when we worship with others, we need to make space to talk God him in our everyday lives as well.
In his prayer, we see Jesus’ humanity shine through.
Jesus knew he was going to die and he had just given his disciples symbols of bread and wine to help them remember the importance of his death. Despite all of this, he asks God to spare him from the suffering even though he knew he had to go through with it. If you analyse this rationally it makes no sense, to ask to be spared something that you have promised will happen, but if you take into account Jesus’ emotional state his prayer makes perfect sense.
The terror, anguish and other emotions that Jesus was feeling threatened to overwhelm him.
Jesus is swamped with emotions but as he talks to God things become clear again. Rather than crumpling in a heap, God restores Jesus and gives him the strength to continue.
Jesus knew that he would die and he seemed to know how it would come about, but I wonder how much he felt the pain of each part of what was just ahead?
1. Judas, his friend, really would betray him.
2. Jesus is arrested in secret and at night rather than in public. Feeling like people are manipulating a situation can be really painful.
3. The religious leaders taunted, hit and spat on Jesus before any verdict is given.
4. While he is on trial, Peter who is nearby denied three times that he knew Jesus.
5. The Jews didn’t have the authority to execute Jesus and so they took him to the Roman Governor Pilate who could command the death penalty. Pilate really didn’t really know what to do with Jesus and so he came up with a cunning plan. He could see that Jesus wasn’t guilty and so he offered to free a prisoner as a gesture of goodwill so that Jesus could be freed. Pilate gave the crowd a choice between Jesus or Barabbas (a revolutionary) to be released and astonishingly the crowd, who a few days earlier shouted Hosanna, began to shout for Barabbas.
We can be so fickle, particularly when the person who we had had confidence in is beginning to look weak. They had shouted Hosanna calling on Jesus to rescue them from the Romans, but he had not done what they wanted him to. The Romans still ruled and Jesus looked broken.
How did Jesus feel about the crowd shouting for Barabbas? Ironically, he knew that their rejection was necessary as it took him towards his sacrificial death but that doesn’t mean that it hurt any the less.
Watching shows like the X factor or the Voice is heartbreaking when you see the real disappointment on people’s faces who don’t go through to the next round. Their hopes and dreams are dashed in that moment of rejection and you can see their pain. As we look at their faces, we see a small amount of what Jesus was going through.
Jesus must have felt rejected but he stuck to his task. At any point he could have called on God, his father to rescue him but he went willingly to his death.
Jesus must have felt overwhelmed with emotions, but he didn’t let his emotions take control of him.
Jesus was mocked, beaten and tortured and yet there was no emotional outburst.
Jesus looked to God, he trusted in God and he was helped by God.
When we suffer we ask ‘why’ but Jesus didn’t need to know why, he just needed the strength to persevere. When we focus only on why, we make the problem the Lord of the situation but when we move past why we can come to Jesus as our Lord who can and will provide for us. Sometimes God rescues us and sometimes he gives us the strength to persevere through the difficulties.
So what would we have shouted for Jesus at his trial? I hope we would have shouted for him, but the reality is that it is hard to stand up for what we believe when everyone around you is shouting the opposite. May Jesus inspire us to stand up for what we believe in and know is right.
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