Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Water and Wine, Part Two

I'm sorry; I guess I fibbed a little about when I was going to be able to post again.  The good news is, the distractions were pleasant ones: two great Easter services at my church and a wonderful family dinner at my grandma's apartment.  But it doesn't need to be a holiday in order to celebrate what Christ did on the cross, so we'll continue exploring Holy Week anyway!

The Cup

Going a little farther [from the disciples], he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him.  “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” - Mark 14:35-36

When He was in the garden with His closest friends, Jesus prayed earnestly to God that the cup of judgment be taken away from Him.  I've heard it preached that Jesus was more concerned about being separated from the Father than from the physical pain of the crucifixion.  This may be so, but let's not allow it to detract from the fact that He knew what was going to happen to His physical body.  If Jesus was fully man, which is of course the crux of our faith - then He surely, surely must have experienced horrible anxiety and fear over His upcoming beatings and death.  How could He not?

I imagine that He must have been deeply conflicted.  He had made the choice to leave Heaven behind Him and live as a man in order to complete the perfect plan of redemption.  The God who created the universe could surely have chosen to rescue mankind another way - yet he did not.  He allowed his innocent Son to be beaten, mocked, attacked, harassed, persecuted, abused, accused, betrayed, rejected, and bullied.  This is still beyond the comprehension of many Christians - and most non-believers.  To be honest, I don't know that God wants us to ever fully understand his decision - because it means that his ways are above ours.  We cannot fathom the idea of sacrificing a beloved child in order to rescue worthless sinners - but that's how God works.

Jesus knew that, of course, but I maintain that it certainly didn't mean that He was looking forward to the physical and emotional mauling He was about to endure.  But I love that He still represented for us the perfect example: even when we are bearing a heavy load and are facing great fear, worry, or terrible circumstances beyond our control, we can trust that God has a perfect plan for us.  It's okay to believe something you cannot see.  He never promised to take away our troubles, but he did promise that we would never be alone in them.

The Cross

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. - Hebrews 12:1-3

This is one of my favorite passages in the Bible.  How can it not be?  I'm mentioned in it!  My salvation was part of the joy set before Jesus on the cross.  When He was suffering there - and I certainly don't think that the word "suffering" can possibly define the misery and agony He endured - He saw through the generations to the people who would come to accept His sacrifice.  He saw that men and women again could freely come to the Lord as his precious children - because they were bought by His blood.  He saw that the curtain in the temple would be torn, allowing access to God.  He saw that millions would believe in His name and that demons would be made powerless, and that thousands would receive the embrace of the  Father.  And although I don't think that such beautiful promises lessened the physical pain of the cross, I believe that He was deeply comforted by the hope they provided.  Yes, what He did would be remembered, and cherished, and revered.  

Therefore, I am humbled and grateful.  I am not perfect in my own right, but I am made spotless through the veil of His blood.  I am a Christian.