Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Most Lonely Moment

"Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree” Galatians 3:13

"But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons." Galatians 4: 4-5

I was reading Matthew 26 this morning, feeling awe as I did so. It tells the story of Christ's time in the Garden of Gethsemane, and his ultimate betrayal by Judas. I have read this story many times before, but it touched me differently this morning. Here was Jesus, God, but also a man. He now knew that "His hour" had come. None of the rest of us in the human race can know what all that entailed, but we can be assured it was a horrifying thought for Him to realize the exact time drew near that He must be separated from His Father, and be abandoned alone to the tree.

He asked His three closest friends on earth to stay awake and watch with Him as He prayed for strength in the garden. If ever He felt vulnerable, it must have been then. Three times He asked, and three times they failed Him.

Incident #1
36 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.” 37 And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. 38 Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.”
39 He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”
40 Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? 41 Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (emphasis mine)

Jesus rebukes them by telling them to watch and pray. But somehow they did not or could not hear Him.

Incident #2
42 Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.” 43 And He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy.

Can you imagine how lonely He must have felt at that moment? He knew that soon the sins of the whole world would be on His back and yet His closest three friends did not seem to care enough to stay awake for one hour!

Incident #3- the Final One
44 So He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. 45 Then He came to His disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand.”

There was no more time for rebuking or for staying awake, for now His betrayer had come for the express purpose of turning Jesus over to the authorities. His closest friends: Peter, James and John could not stay awake with Him during the one hour when He was the loneliest Man in the world. I curiously noted that Jesus said to Judas, His betrayer,

50 But Jesus said to him, “Friend, why have you come?”

He called Judas "friend!" His closest friends fell asleep when He desired their prayers and now the one who pretended to be a follower turns Him in to the authorities, yet Jesus still called him a friend. He knew what Judas would eventually do, and He knew why Judas had come, yet that did not stop Him from calling him "friend." Jesus knew it all and as a human being, He felt rejection by His closest friends and by the world. On the cross, He was rejected as His own Father in heaven turned His face away while Christ became a sin offering for us, in order that we could have His very own righteousness. (See II Corinthians 5:21)

The thought that Jesus, in His humanity, felt the same pains that I feel is of great comfort to me. Though my troubles could never match His, just to know that He , as a man, knows exactly what I am going through gives me courage to somehow keep on keeping on. The fact that He was alone, utterly and desperately alone, because of my sins, is reason for me to praise Him for the rest of eternity. Also, I thank my God and Father that He did not leave His Son dead in the grave but gave Him resurrection from the dead. Death no more has any hold on Him, nor on us who share in His life!

Romans 6:8-11
8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Isaiah 53:5

But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.

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