Friday, November 4

Mystery in Gethsemane

Prayer is a mystery. Sometimes.

The incarnation of Jesus is a mystery. Always.

Put together I have a couple of thoughts, one on praying, the other on the imponderable person of Jesus Christ.

A Promise We Hardly Believe About Prayer
I've been reading Paul Miller's "A Praying Life" where he is dealing with Jesus' blanket promise in John 14:13-14, “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” Wow! Anything? Really? OK, so there are two extremes to avoid, 1) don't explain it away, and 2) don't turn such a promise into a genies lamp, rub and get anything you wish. But I tantalize, because today, I don't plan to delve into this precious and broad-ranging promise, but rather to focus on one aspect, balancing between NOT ASKING or ASKING SELFISHLY. Miller points out that James deals with this in chapter 4 and Jesus exemplifies it in Gethsemane. Simply, Jesus passed the first test by crying out to His Father, "Take this cup from me." Then he passed the other test by acquiescing, "Nevertheless, not my will but yours be done" (Mark 14). So, Jesus DOES ask, but in the next breath he relinquishes his own desire, planting it firmly in his Father's hands. This leads to a meditation . . . 

Fix on the Imponderable Jesus
The above cry from the Incarnate One raises a question which to my mind can only be categorized as fathomless. Here are my thoughts "on paper." Jesus cries out in true angst. We cannot draw any other conclusion. He wouldn't fake it, even to teach us a lesson. Right? Of course not. His suffering was quite real. What he felt internally was simply incomprehensible. Why? He was/is the only one of his kind. Unique in the universe. What he was enduring at that moment no man could know much less understand. Jesus knew why he had come, "to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10). Even Simeon and Anna at his dedication gave credence to this deep truth. Still, after having lived approximately 33 years on the evening of his betrayal Jesus is in great anguish of heart. So distraught was he that Mark says he was "very distressed and troubled." Then Marks says Jesus went a little farther and fell on the ground. The word "fell" is in the imperfect thus inferring repeated action. So, it could read, "he kept falling," which would indicate a sort of exhaustion that rendered him so beside himself that he could not even stay on his feet, but kept falling first on one knee and then the other as he made his way to the place of prayer.

I bring this out so that we might realize how very distraught Jesus really was. Incarnation means that Jesus took on human form with its restrictions. He could've reversed it at any time. Was he ever tempted to do so? I don't know any reason to doubt it. Understand, Jesus emptied himself in his humiliation (Phil. 2:7), and so had to learn (Luke 2:52; Heb. 5:8). So, limited of his own volition to operate with lessened divine qualities, he could take them back at any time. Here's eternity bound in human flesh, about to be tortured in a typically unbearable fashion. But greater than that is this separation from his Father. God divided! Frankly, that is total mystery, the depths of which defy human imagination. The struggle was of cosmic proportions.

What does this mean to you and to me? I stand amazed just at what I think I know of Christ, my Savior.

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