Various monumental events mark this day, and various important teachings. But I want to focus on only one thing here today, i.e. Jesus’ prayer in the garden of Gethsemane. To me, nothing demonstrates His truly human nature as here.
We often forget, or perhaps, I often forget, how true Jesus was to His human nature. He suffered every desire, pain, joy and pleasure as a man would. And in Gethsemane, we find Jesus battling a great sense of agony – as a man about to take the full force of God’s wrath. Facing judgement of any kind, as a guilty man is worst enough; have you ever wondered how it might have felt to face the same judgement as an innocent man?! But that was what Jesus did. We find in the account of the Apostles that Christ prayed twice. First, He pleads for the cup to be taken away. But the second time he pleads for the cup, He also accepts it as the will of God. Between these two prayers lie, the fear and anguish of a God who was truly human. He wrestled with His fears like an ordinary man would. But thank goodness, He overcame His fears with a perfect obedience – truly as God would. The Book of Hebrews therefore confirms:
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (4:15, ESV)
A lot many people will focus on the teachings of the Upper room today, and on the institution of the Lord’s Table. And perhaps, they should. Because it was during this period that Christ instituted the new law – love one another: just as I have loved you. (John 13:34) But Jesus was not just any other new age guru of enlightenment. So, to me this teaching will always feel incomplete; if we do not remind ourselves, intimately how Jesus demonstrated His love for you and me, suffered like you and me (would) and ultimately died in our stead. Jesus, truly lived as He preached, there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:13, NLT) And what a great comfort that is to know that Christ knows all our sufferings. He is never far. Even now, the scripture says, He pleads our case to the Father. (Rom 8:34)
Dear readers, the cross we are called to bear is not one where we are pinned to it. We are called to the cross to crucify our sins. Christ said, my yoke is easy and light, and it grants rest and understanding. (Matt 11:28-30) Let us take comfort in the Christ who prayed with perfect reverence and YHWH answered. (Heb 5:7) This is the same Christ, who suffered like a man in our stead. And most importantly, this is the same Christ who continues to plead for us. You and I can fail. But He cannot. And it is because He did not fail, we will also not fail. His grace endures. Dear reader, I don’t know who you are and what your story is. But I want to tell you, Christ knows. He knows you. He knows your wants and needs, your sufferings, your joy, your failure, your problems, your guilt, your sorrows… I want to tell you Christ has already bore that cross of condemnation. I want to tell you dear reader, you belong to Christ. And a life of sin does not belong to you. Embrace holiness today. Embrace grace. Embrace love. To God be the Glory.
Series Index: (1) Introduction: Why Observe the Holy Week (2) Palm Sunday: Sovereign Mercy (3) Holy Monday: Tough Love (4) Holy Tuesday: Who do we say this Jesus is (5) Spy Wednesday: The Temptation of Worldly Logic