Jesus led His band of faithful followers from the upper room out of Jerusalem across the Kidron Valley into the Garden of Gethsemane. The disciples were very familiar with this route. As itinerant students of a mobile rabbi they often stayed in this area at night when they had business in Jerusalem.
But, tonight was different. The tone had been set in the room. One of them was now missing. Talk of a body and blood being offered up added to the mystery. Suddenly Jesus stopped and looked at the group. “Stay here and pray that you don’t enter into temptation.”
He pointed at Peter, James and John motioning for them to follow Him farther. Jesus’s steps slowed. When He turned around the full moon’s light glistened in His eyes. “Remain here while I go and pray.”
The three men sat at the base of an olive tree as Jesus walked on alone. They watched as He fell to His knees, His body heaving from the sighs.
Jesus looked up. “Abba, infinite Holy Creator of the universe, how I long for Your embrace. The time has come for My suffering. The pain and ridicule I can endure, I know they are only temporary. What I haven’t had to encounter is being outside of Your presence. We have always been One from all eternity. The thought of being sent away from You is more than I want to endure. If there is another way to accomplish this act of salvation let it be done.”
Jesus bowed to the ground. “I know You are Sovereign and that there is no other way. This must happen to fulfill Your Holy mandate of a perfect sacrifice for imperfect people. So, it’s not as I will, but because I know it is Your will that I will endure separation from You for a season so mankind can be with Us for all eternity.”
Jesus wiped the tears off His cheeks as He stood. He walked over to His disciples and kicked Peter’s foot. “Can’t you stay awake for one hour? Watch and pray that you don’t succumb to temptation. Satan has asked for you to be sifted as wheat. The only way to overcome him is by prayer.”
Jesus looked up, then, His head dropped as He sobbed. He turned around and fell at the placed He was earlier, repeating His petition. “Father let this cup pass from me, yet, not as I will, but Your will be done.”
A return trip to check on His men saw Jesus put a hand on the shoulders of James and John. “Please pray!”
Another sob preceded Jesus’s trip back to His position on the ground. The intensity of the moment brought great sweat from every pore of His body and a resolution to His soul.
Jesus was looking into the distance as the three disciples opened their eyes. “The hour has come for My departure.”
The disciples stood and saw a line of torches winding its way across the valley and up the hill.
Gethsemane, the place of our Savior’s anguish. I don’t think if salvation was simply Jesus dying and lying in the grave for three days before He came back to life that it would have been such a big deal to Jesus. The significance of the ordeal was the fact that ALL the sins of all mankind was about to be placed on Jesus on the cross. Since God can have NOTHING to do with sin Jesus would have to be expelled from God’s presence for three days.
About now some of you are saying, “Wait, wait, wait… I thought Jesus is the second person of the trinity, equal to God, and in some ways the same as God. How can God be separated from God? That just doesn’t make sense.”
You’re right. That doesn’t make sense, but that’s the way God designed it. That’s the extent God went to to make salvation available to us. That’s why this only had to happen once. This transaction began nine months before the first Christmas. When God caused the egg inside a young woman to develop without the sperm of a sinful man entering her body.
The reason Jesus calmed the storm on the Sea of Galilee with a word, and made the food multiply to feed multitudes of people, and healed so many diseases, and overcame the ultimate enemy of death was because He was God in a human body. Yeah, I know, that doesn’t make any sense either, but, that’s why it only happened once. A perfect God would require a perfect sacrifice to accomplish the ultimate transaction.
The Jewish sacrificial system that began after the Exodus from Egypt required that a male lamb without blemish be used for the passover offering. That lamb was a foreshadowing of Jesus– the only sinless person who ever walked the face of the earth. When Jesus bowed in that garden He saw my face and said, “I will endure all that is involved in the crucifixion so Wade Webster can spend eternity with Me rather than being separated from God for that same eternity.” And, you know what, He did the same thing with your face and your name.
There’s a point while Jesus is hanging on the cross that He quotes Psalm 22:1. “My God, My God why have You forsaken Me?” It’s at that time that God heaped ALL the sins of mankind on Jesus. And the sky went black. 1 John 1:5 says that “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” That darkness was God’s statement that He couldn’t be in the presence of sin.
Go back and read the entire 22nd Psalm. It’s the most detailed physical description of what happens to a body during crucifixion, and it was written many centuries before crucifixion was ever invented. You can’t convince me that God didn’t have all this worked out ahead of time.
Don’t despair. The light will return… brighter than before!
I’ll see you later. Wade