Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Not my will

Mickey Connolly's message on Sunday was one that I won't forget quickly. Every time I hear/think about what took place on the road to the Cross, I'm just amazed. Each time I think about what Jesus endured with me in mind, I'm freshly aware of how much he loves me.

Have you ever gotten really anxious before doing something? Maybe it's going to the doctor...but you know that weird feeling in your gut right before you have to do something you don't want to do. Imagine that feeling and then think that you never had to face the unspeakable horrors of Calvary, or the depth of God's wrath toward sin being heaped upon your shoulders. The night of his betrayal, Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane and prayed. This moment in time is probably one of the best examples of obedient faith expressed in history...pause for a moment and reflect on the agony and the lessons from the Garden.
Mark 14:32-42 And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, "Sit here while I pray." And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And he said to them, "My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch." And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, "Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will." And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, "Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy, and they did not know what to answer him. And he came the third time and said to them, "Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand."
At this moment in time, Jesus was experiencing great anguish...he was greatly distressed and troubled...very sorrowful. It was an incredibly extreme emotion...horror, appalled reluctance, hopelessness...these might summarize the emotions surging through his entire being, but I'm sure don't come close to describing what he was feeling on this night. What he did feel, he felt so heavily that he believed it literally could kill him - "My soul is very sorrowful, even to death."

How is it that this particular man could be feeling such deep pain and anguish? He was the man that throughout the Bible had been more courageous than any man...resolutely calm even when facing the devil himself! Other men had faced death with more courage than this...how are we to explain?
JOHN STOTT (The Cross of Christ, 73) - "Here something takes place which, despite the sober way the evangelist describe it, simply cries out for an explanation, and begins to disclose the enormous costliness of the cross to Jesus."
The weight of emotion in this moment literally overcame him and he couldn't stand...he fell on the ground and poured out his heart to his Father. What would cause this strong man to fall faint? It wasn't the fear of physical pain...it's a much greater pain that he is about to endure: (v.36 And he said, "Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will."). The cup he speaks of is the wrath of God poured out on all evil. This cup...it is to be poured out on him.
Isaiah 51:17  Wake yourself, wake yourself, stand up, O Jerusalem, you who have drunk from the hand of the LORD the cup of his wrath, who have drunk to the dregs the bowl, the cup of staggering.
Ezekial 23:32-34 Thus says the Lord GOD: "You shall drink your sister’s cup
that is deep and large; you shall be laughed at and held in derision, for it contains much;
you will be filled with drunkenness and sorrow. A cup of horror and desolation, the cup of your sister Samaria; you shall drink it and drain it out, and gnaw its shards, and tear your breasts; for I have spoken, declares the Lord GOD.
Isaiah 53:5 But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.
2 Corinthians 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

In these verses it gives us a clearer picture of the cup...what he was facing. Jesus had a holy aversion, a holy hatred toward sin for his entire life, and now that horror was to be laid on him, in its entirety. All the big sins, all the small sins, the known and unknown sins, past, present, future...all we've ever done and ever will do was to be placed on him...he who had never known sin. He'd never experienced it...and now he was to become sin and drink the entirety of the cup of God's wrath against him...the cup without mercy.

The verse in Isaiah 51 says he would drink it to the dregs...meaning that he had to drink every last drop. If even 1 of my sins had been left out, that 1 sin would be enough to send me to hell for eternity. He drank the cup of poison willingly, so that we wouldn't have to.

Jesus cries out to his "Abba Father" - a most intimate name. It means Daddy God. Abba Father expresses the eternal love they had for one another...a love that had been felt forever. When he becomes sin, he will experience separation for the first time in eternity. The one whom he loves and the one who loves him will completely forsake and abandon him.
SINCLAIR FERGUSON (Mark, 239) - "Jesus was about to be exposed to the one thing in life he really feared: not the cruel death which would end it (he knew he would rise again), but the indestructible experience of feeling himself to God-forsaken. He felt he could not live - indeed, that life was not worth living - without the consciousness of his Father's love for him. Yet the fact that he entered that darkness and experienced such grief is the source of all our comfort. It assumes us that he understands our darkest hours. But more, it means that he has drawn the sting from our darkest hour for he has entered our God-forsaken condition so that we might share his God-accepted relationship to the Father!"
This should be our source of unbroken joy in our lives. Not even the worst sinner on the worst day of their lives has ever or will ever experience being completely forsaken by God. We casually use the phrase, "hell on earth" but what Jesus was about to face - complete abandonment by his Father - was literally hell...on this earth...complete and utter forsakenness. And yet, even as he sat staring into the cup, anticipating abandonment and becoming sin, he still is able to say, "not what I will, but what you will." He asks for the cup to be taken away - is there another way around this - but he was still 100% willing to face this. In this moment, Jesus is saying that nothing was more important to him than obeying his Father. To stare into that cup and still say yes reveals the depth of Jesus love and submission to his father.
SINCLAIR FERGUSON (Mark, 240) - "Everything in Jesus longed to escape from this terrible experience, seen in its own light; yet everything in Jesus also longed to be obedient to the Father - in that light he bowed before him praying 'not my will, but your will, be done, Father'."
He became our sin-bearer.  We cannot comprehend the depth of the cross without the Garden. If it were not for this glimpse into the Garden, we could not see how deep Jesus love for the Father and for us goes.

The Garden also helps us to face our own tests. Turn your attention to the disciples for a moment. They were to keep watch and to pray, but they were sleepy. Many times in our lives, our spirits are strong...but our flesh is weak. We end up sleeping like the disciples. It is important for the disciples to watch and to pray...not that Jesus would be rescued...but so that they would not enter into temptation. Jesus knew what they would encounter in the near future and his command is simple, yet their flesh was weak. The scene repeats 2 times before the hour of betrayal is at hand. When Jesus says "Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand." - he isn't saying "hurry, let's get out of here" he's saying "I prayed, the Father spoke, it's time to fulfill my Father's will."

There are 3 lessons we can take away from the Garden:
  • When tests and trials come - temptations follow.
    • Watch and pray...be prayerfully dependent upon God, not just when you think you need him.
    • Every day there are temptations to complain, stagger, dismay, despair, be depressed, be selfish, be fearful, and be unbelieving.
    • Also make note that Jesus took others with him in his time of need to pray with him. This is how we are to live our own lives...when trials and temptations come, bring others along side of you to lift you up in prayer.
    • Watch.
    • Pray.
  • Jesus' example of submission to the Father.
    • Every trial comes from God's sovereign hand for his glory, purpose, and kingdom. When you face a trial, don't respond, "Get me out!" - God always has a loving purpose even if he doesn't tell us why...his will is in no way capricious.
      • Isaiah 53:10-11 Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.
    • God's will, his purpose, was loving and redemptive even in crushing his own son. It wasn't just because his Father "said so" that Jesus obeyed...it was because God's purpose is loving, sovereign and redemptive.
    • Because he obeyed, we are declared righteous.
  • Jesus' example of intimacy with the Father
    • Where are we to turn in trials except to the Father?
    • He is committed to our good
    • He went to the cross so that we could call him Abba - Daddy
      • JOHN CALVIN (Institutes, ch.16, p.508) - "And here was no common evidence of his incomparable love toward us: to wrestle with terrible fear, and amid those cruel torments to cast off al concern for himself that he might provide for us."
    • He faced fear, stared into the cup...and did it anyway.
There are also 3 things the Garden helps us realize we need to be grateful for:
  • This horror that Jesus faced - the wrath of God, the cup...it's a horror that I will never face.
  • I will never face the wrath of God against my sin.
  • I will never be forsaken or abandoned by him.
These things we can be grateful for because Jesus loved us enough to face these things for us. He faced unspeakable horror so we could have unspeakable joy.

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