Thursday evening (but remember… to the Jews it is the beginning of Friday), Jesus and the disciples have finished the Passover meal and they are heading to the garden. Jesus wants to pray....and the clock is ticking....
As they arrive at Gethsemane, Jesus tells the disciples to "watch and pray lest you enter into temptation". He goes "about a stone's throw" from them and kneels to pray. Remember, it is evening, it's been a long day. They are full (they just finished a meal, not juice and a cracker chip), they are tired and as they close their eyes to pray, they fall asleep. Has this ever happened to you? It sure has happend to me. You have the best intentions of praying, but soon you can't hold your eyes open. All evening Jesus had been telling them "I must go away", "A little while and you will no longer see me", "I am going to the Father", but they just didn't get it. The clock was ticking, but they had no idea that this would be the longest night of their lives.
How often do we neglect to pray when IF we only knew what the day would bring, we would RUN to our prayer closet to seek guidance, strength and help for the next 24 hours? Have you ever been so burdened that you couldn't wait to get alone with the Lord? When being with Him is ALL you wanted to do, because you knew HE was your only hope...I've been there, and I think sometimes God allows those heartrending situations in our lives just so they will drive us to that point. But none of us have ever been as heavy as Jesus was that night.
The clock was ticking and Jesus KNEW. A stone's throw from the disciples, he was in agony as they slept. If any one of us had known what was about to occur as Jesus did, we would have probably run like Jonah! But Jesus prayed. He asked the Father if there was any other way. I think we see his human side here more than ever. If you have not read this passage lately, I urge you to go and read it in all 4 gospels and pay attention to the details. Jesus was in anguish to the point of death. So much so, that God sent an angel to minister to Him and strengthen Him. So much so that he sweat drops of blood. This is not a figurative term, he literally sweat drops of blood. It was anguish like none of us has ever known. He pled with the Father, "if there is any way....BUT not my will but thine be done". Jesus was NOT in anguish over the physical suffering he was about to endure, though that would have been understandable. Jesus was in anguish because he realized that He would be separated from the Father while He bore our sins. I do not think God had totally revealed that to Him til that moment.
You and I are born in sin, spiritually dead, but physically alive, just like Adam after the fall. God had removed His spirit from him after he sinned. Just as God had told him and Eve, "you will surely die". They thought physical death, God meant spiritually. But Jesus was born spiritually alive because He had been fathered by God Himself. He had never known one second of being spiritually dead, separated from His Father's Spirit. The prospect of that was killing him!!
In this body, we have struggled with sin since the day we were born. But not Jesus. He had never sinned, never known a sinful thought, never been separated from the Father. It is hard for us to comprehend that, or to comprehend how difficult it was going to be for that to happen to Him. But, it was all part of the plan, and the clock was ticking....
Judas must now come and betray him. He comes with many soldiers, he is arrested and the disciples flee just as Jesus had predicted they would. In the city, Peter denies him as the rooster crows. Jesus is mocked, spit upon and beaten before the morning light. Soon the darkest day in history will dawn, and the clock is still ticking....
Dawn breaks and they bring Jesus to Caiaphas, then to Pilate. A mock trial is held, Jesus is beaten beyond recognition. The cruelty of it is beyond our comprehension. When I think of the scenes portrayed in the PASSION OF CHRIST I still cannot bear it. My heart comes up into my throat, my eyes fill with tears. I could not bear to watch most of the beating. No man should ever have had to endure what He did, but He did and He did it all for me....and for YOU! It was part of the plan.
9:00 am Friday morning....Jesus is hung on a cross between two thieves. Crucifixion was a horrible way to die...a slow, agonizing, excruciating, painful way to die. But Jesus bore it for you and for me. Max Lucado, in his book HE CHOSE THE NAILS, stated that if the soldiers had not nailed him there, He would have somehow nailed himself to the cross. It was part of the plan, they did not take his life from Him, he willingly laid it down for you and for me. HE CHOSE THE NAILS!!!
From 9:00 am til noon, Jesus suffered the wrath man, but from noon til 3:00 pm he suffered the wrath of God....what He had so desperately feared and dreaded. It was hell for Him. For those 3 hours, God turned his face away and removed His spirit from Jesus as he took on all the sins of the world....all that you would ever commit....all that I would ever commit...ALL the sins of the world!! The sky darkened and the world was dark in the middle of the day. The earth shook, the veil in the Temple was split in two and all Heaven groaned as God poured out His wrath on Jesus...the wrath He should have poured out on you and me. Jesus, who just hours ago had cried out to His Father, crying "Abba", which translated means "Daddy", is now crying out for the only time in scripture "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?" God was now in the role of judge and Jesus cried out to Him!
At 3:00 pm God returned His spirit to Jesus. The plan was complete. Jesus said "IT IS FINISHED"!! He bowed His head and dismissed His spirit. He was in control to the very end. He had said "No man takes my life from me, I lay it down." He laid it down, bore our sin, endured the agony of the cross, choosing the nails....He did it all for YOU and for ME.
Think on that today. He did it all for you. What love!!!!!
But that is not the end of the story.......
It is Friday
Sunday (Easter) is coming...............!
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