My fellow Christ followers – you who have pledged your lives’ allegiance to the King of Kings – may I chat with you a moment? May I beg a moment of your time, my Church family, to have a quick huddle up? I’ll only take a minute.
The problem with God awakening my heart is that it is now… well… awakened. Not just for a population half a world away, but for my fellow Americans, here and now in this tumultuous time.
I know you’re not unaware. Perhaps you’re feeling empowered or perhaps you’re feeling condemned. Maybe you’re feeling disgusted and maybe for a different reason than the sister standing beside you. These are trying times – moments that reveal the best in us and the worst in us. Some are stirred to action and some are feeling it’s best to withdraw.
But can I share my perspective? I know you’re inundated with opinions, but this isn’t about who’s right or wrong. This isn’t about sides, this is about Jesus.
I was reading about Jesus’ last night with His disciples before He died. You know, the garden of Gethsemane? The night He was betrayed and arrested.
Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Going a little further, He fell with His face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Matthew 26:38-39
And, being in anguish, He prayed more earnestly, and His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. Luke 22:44
And I wondered today… why was Jesus so distraught?
I mean, this is Jesus. Walked on water, raised Lazarus from the dead, was tempted by Satan, baptized by John the Baptist, filled with the Spirit, transfigured and affirmed by God Himself…
Yes, He knew the pain He was about to endure – the humiliation and flogging and death by the most cruel and torturous treatment imaginable. I am sure in His humanity He felt the natural recoil from physical death we all experience.
But Jesus had talked about His death and resurrection over and over again, showing no fear for His personal safety. He was absolutely certain of His purpose – with a Spirit-filled confidence in the power of His Father to raise Him from death. Why, in these last hours, would He suddenly be freaking out?
Or, put much more eloquently…
What ailed Thee, O Lord, that Thou shouldst be so sorely troubled just then?
May I humbly posit, it was not the agony of the cross that troubled Him so – not in the physical sense at least. The soul-crushing anguish our savior endured, which theologians argue was so intense it may have physically killed Him had He not been strengthened in his body by an angel, was not a sudden surge of fear for the trauma ahead of Him.
(It would have been for me – staring at the ledge asking, Father, what have you asked me to do?)
No, I am beginning to see that in the garden that night, Jesus the man and Jesus the divine began to hold the gravity of mankind’s sin. He began to experience the Father’s grief over Israel’s rejection and humanity’s depravity. The cup of Matthew 26:39 is our salvation(1), yes, but was it also the wrath of God for the sins of this world(2)?
I believe the soul-wrecking reality Jesus was experiencing was the immensity of our sin, and His responsibility to carry it for us. Jesus wasn’t asking God to let Him off the hook so He didn’t have to die. I think He was so incredibly overwhelmed by the catastrophic consequences of our selfishness that He asked God to spare Him from the weight.
“Nevertheless,” He prayed, “Not my will but Your will be done.”
He had looked at [the cross] calmly and quietly, and felt that whatever it was He would bear it for our sake; but when it actually came to the bearing of sin He was utterly astonished and taken aback at the dreadful position of standing in the sinner’s place before God, of having His holy Father look upon Him as the sinner’s representative, and of being forsaken by that Father with whom He had lived on terms of amity and delight from old eternity. It staggered His holy, tender, loving nature, and He was “sore amazed” and was “very heavy.” – Spurgeon
I don’t presume to know the mind of Christ, but I know that His perspective is so immense, it is utterly impossible for me to grasp.
And I know whatever Jesus felt in Gethsemane that night was enough to suffer His soul into overwhelming agony – so much so, His physical body could not bear up under its weight. He fell with His face to the ground and prayed.
I don’t know what you’re standing for these days. Maybe you’re standing for women’s rights and human rights. Maybe you’re standing up for President Trump and defending him. Maybe you’re standing in judgement. Maybe you’re standing in dismay.
May I humbly suggest that before we stand for anything, we first find ourselves with our faces to the ground in prayer?
Can we draw near enough to the Father to feel His heart? His absolute heartbreak for suffering and injustice… His total desperation to rescue the lost… His earnest plea that we somehow love each other in such a way that our love would point directly back to Him?
May we be overwhelmed by the weight of it, such that our physical bodies can hardly bear up under it, and then may we find ourselves in prayer. Not for our agenda or our politics, because there are members of the body of Christ on every notch of the spectrum, but for the hearts and lives of our fellow Americans, that they would find their rescue in the hope we’ve found. Plead for the abused and displaced, the hopeless and the persecuted, the orphan and the widow and the hungry and the homeless. Plead for supernatural solutions that defy human intuition. Plead for wisdom and courage and selflessness.
Then may we sense the Spirit’s leading for each and every one of us – what role He would have us play in this rich and complex history. His answer may astound you.
Love to you all. I’m right here with you.
Heal my heart and make it clean, [then] open up my eyes to the things unseen. Show me how to love like You have loved me. Break my heart for what breaks Yours.
Hosanna, Hillsong United
- Matthew 26:28, Luke 22:20, 1 Corinthians 11:25
- Psalm 75:6-10, Isaiah 51:17, Revelation 14:9-11