Saturday, April 19, 2014

"His Cup To Bear"

And coming out, He went to the Mount of Olives, as He was accustomed, and His disciples also followed Him. When He came to the place, He said to them, "Pray that you may not enter into temptation. And He was withdrawn from them about a stone's throw, and He knelt down and prayed, saying, "Father, if it is Your will, remove this cup from Me; nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done."
Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. And His sweat became like great drops of blood falling to the ground. When He rose up from prayer, and had come to His disciples, He found them sleeping from sorrow. Then He said to them, "Why do you sleep? Rise and pray, lest you enter into temptation." Luke 22:39-46
I don't know about you but one of the first things I notice as I read this section of Scripture is ...He went to the Mount of Olives, as was His custom, and His disciples followed Him. When He came to the place... Did you see the words 'as was His custom' and 'when He came to the place?' These words show us that this time with the Father was something that He did often and that this spot in the garden was a regular meeting place for Him to hang with His dad, Almighty God.

When I was a kid, I know that my all time favorite thing in all the world was hanging out with my dad. I have three sisters and three brothers and my parents were also foster parents so time alone with my dad was hard to come by. Actually, I figured out a way. When there was work to be done the others preferred to be off playing while I took advantage of that and it became  my time with him. I became, 'his helper.' I remember when he was building an addition to the house being right there beside him carrying boards and handing him nails. I worked along side him in the garden, raking leaves, and any other projects he had going. I loved those times even though they involved some work because it was time that was filled with laughter and 'talks' that I still remember to this day. I treasure those memories because it was time spent loving and being loved by my dad!

Jesus had that and more with His Father. He reveals His love for the Father every time He speaks of Him. He reveals His confidence in and His knowledge of His Father's love for Him with the words He speaks as well! He never, never, never, NEVER has thoughts of doubt about His love for His Father or His Father's love for Him. NOT EVER!

I say all that because you need to know and understand that turning to the Father was what He did. He was in this place crying out to the Father because what was about to happen was something that was inconceivable to Him. He was having a really hard time with this something; this cup that was about to happen.

It says that once they got there He separated Himself from the disciples and knelt down to pray and the words that He spoke were these, "Father, if it is Your will, remove this cup from Me; nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done."  Between being a youth pastor for 34 years, a teacher for 14, and a foster parent for 7, I've heard, "Do I have to?" a million times. Jesus is here in this place doing what He does, turning to the Father, because He knows He needs help to do the thing this cup represents and its something the Father has obviously told Him needs doing. I know that there have been times in my life that my dad has asked me to do something that was outside my comfort zone, and I've gone to him with the attitude of, "I really don't want to ... but if you really need me, OK, fine, I'll do it, I won't like it, but, I'll do it."

These words, ...not my will but Yours, be done." are used so often that I think that we forget that when He spoke them they weren't spoken in some monotone tone of voice so that we would have cool words to quote about surrendering but that they were spoken with all the emotional agony that He was feeling. It says that as soon as they were spoken an angel came from heaven to strengthen Him. His Father knew and understood his suffering. He sent an angel to Him to help so that He would be able to bear the cup that was to come.

Next it says ..."And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. And His sweat became like great drops of blood falling to the ground." Being in agony; agony here means struggle, anguish and this is the only time in the NT that this words is used. It says ... being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. He was in agony - He was struggling and it was so great a struggle that He prayed even more earnestly. I keep saying it so that you see He was still looking to the Father for help. He was still talking with His Father. This thing was huge to Him. It says that He even began to sweat drops of blood. According to Wikipedia it is called - Hematidrosis - It can occur when a person is suffering extreme levels of stress. So what was this thing, this cup that was so hard for Him that it caused Him such a struggle, such extreme stress?

I know what I think. You may not agree but I don't think it was the beating, the scourging, the spitting, the punching, the betrayal, the crown of thorns, the struggle He felt as He carried the weight of the cross up the hill, the ridicule, the spikes being pounded through hands and feet, or even the hours hanging on the cross trying to breathe through the pain and agony. I don't even think it was a combination of all those things. As horrible as all that is I think He would be able to endure and face all that. People did. The other two thieves did. I think it was more; or rather a different 'cup' to bear.

I think we see the answer here, in this particular moment found in Mark 15:34 and Matthew 27:46...And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" which is translated, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" I believe that the thing that caused Him such agony; and so much stress that it had Him in the garden crying out to His Father for help was what took place right here in this moment. The word forsaken means to leave behind in some place, to desert, and it comes from a root word that means to leave down, i.e. behind, by impl. to abandon. Personally, I believe this is the moment that Jesus was dreading. This moment when He felt abandoned and deserted and left to bear the weight of all our separation from His Father all by Himself. Remember, Sin separates. This was the real horrific moment, when the sins of the world, our sins were laid on Him (2 Corinthians 5:21) and the He was for the first time, no longer in that place of resting and abiding with the Father. He no longer felt His Father's love. I believe that this was the cup He longed not to have to bear!

If you look at Adam and Eve and their lives after they left the garden; the place they had been abiding with God you get a very real sense of their hardship as that they carried the 'weight' of that separation all the rest of their days. I think that we, as human beings, all too often don't appreciate the price Jesus truly paid on our behalf because we don't fully grasp what He sacrificed in those moments while He was under that weight of our sin, our separation, from the love of His Heavenly Father. After all, don't forget it was His custom to hang with His Heavenly Father, Almighty God and I don't say that because I am in any way belittling what He went through physically; the beating, the scourging, the spitting, the punching, the betrayal, the crown of thorns, the weight of the cross, the ridicule, the spikes through hands and feet, the hours of suffering as He was hanging, the pain, the agony, The Cross. I'm not!  I get what He suffered! I do; I just think that the hard part, the struggle, or rather the cup that He took to His Father in the garden was the harder part. The weight of the spiritual separation from the love of His Father.

"My God. My God. Why have You forsaken Me?" paints the picture of the agony He felt at the moment He felt the loss of His Father's love; It was the moment His Father turned away!

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