Refocusing and Reframing

Paul’s Triplets

Paul frequently groups things, sometimes in couplets, sometimes in fours, and other times in triplets. This week, we will look at a few of his triplets to see if there is anything of value for us, 2,000 years and a COVID-19 virus later. Triplets may not always be the most desired arrival to a home, especially if they cry and need to be fed, but hopefully some of these will be encouragement to you.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 we read” Rejoice evermore; pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” It is not often in the 66 books of the Bible, that we have something clearly stated to be the will of God for us. So, this must be worthwhile to consider.

Rejoice evermore” is his first exhortation. These people were not facing a small deadly virus. They were facing big, nasty men. They were going through a period of persecution. In chapter 3 Paul is so thankful that they are showing their faith by the manner in which they are handling their danger. Now, in chapter 5, he seems to be going a bit beyond that when he tells them, that despite the persecution, they should be rejoicing.

Praise avoids self-pity, that “it feels so good to feel so bad” feeling which lasts about 10 seconds and then goes away, leaving you just as miserable. Rejoice evermore or always means to avoid a grumbling, complaining spirit. Self-pity has pride as its basis. It feels it deserves more than it is getting. Whether in society, work, home, or assembly, avoid negativism as an atmosphere in which you move. We are all in danger of our desires becoming our legitimate “needs,” and feeling we are being deprived.

Prayer avoids self-reliance and independence. Prayer should be an attitude of heart as seen in Nehemiah. Prayer as an expression of dependence. Prayer is the spirit of Worship. Prayer recognizes God as sacred sovereign, sufficient, sympathetic, satisfying. As we face an unseen foe, as we feel the stress of confinement, and for some, of isolation, prayer should remind us that we are never alone.

In everything, give thanks” may seem difficult to do when you are looking at the inside of your home on day 40. It is difficult to do when you are unemployed, when you are concerned about bills and putting food on the table. Giving thanks means I find something for which to be thankful in every set of circumstances. I am content with every circumstance allowed by God. I recognize that there is something bigger than I am, that there is Someone wiser than I am. 

All of this attitude adjustment is lumped together as “the will of God in Christ Jesus” for you and me. I can fulfill God’s will for my life by the way I react to the present circumstances which have blind-sided us for the last 6 weeks. In the midst of listening to the flood of news-streams, reading online all the latest information, and being inundated with figures of today’s numbers, stop and “rejoice, pray, and give thanks.” And don’t forget to wash your hands for 20 seconds!

Pleasing God

Without faith, it is impossible to please Him” Hebrews 11:6

How ye ought to walk and to please God” 1 Thess 4:1

With such sacrifices God is well pleased” Hebrews 13:16

There are numerous places where we are told what pleases God. In his exhortation to the Thessalonians, Paul reminded them that holiness brings pleasure to God. Amidst the immoral and lax society of Macedonia, Paul told them that to walk counter-culture by a life of moral purity was pleasing to God.

The writer to the Hebrew believers, in encouraging them in a life of faith rather than law, encased in Hebrews 11 the maxim for life: faith pleases God. And then in summing up the truth of living by faith, he reminded them in chapter 13 that even though the work of Christ had put an end to sacrifices, there are sacrifices even today which bring pleasure to God. “The sacrifice of praise … to do good and communicate forget not for with such sacrifices God is well pleased” (Heb 13:15, 16).

Holiness, faith, thanksgiving, and doing good to others pleases God. While these exhortations are very practical and applicable to us, and while we need to grow and develop in each of them, there was a Man here Who embodied them all.

One great contrast is that He did not grow in His holiness, develop in His life of faith, be reminded of the need for thanksgiving, or learn to do good to others. All of this was abiding in Him and abundant in Him.

He gave thanks amidst the most negative of circumstances (Matt 11:25). In the upper room, He gave thanks for the emblems and for the reality of what they represented. He sang with His own as they left the upper room and worshiped the God Whom He served. “Thou art My God I will exalt Thee; O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good” (Ps 118:28, 29). And then upon the cross, there went up the spirit of worship from the heart of Christ: “But Thou art holy” as He justified the hand that was smiting Him.

He did not have to learn to do good and communicate. “He went about doing good” is the record of the Spirit of God. And again, “He hath done all things well.” There was never idle time, no “me-time” in His life. Even when weary, He would use it as an opportunity to reach a thirsty Samaritan woman at a well. Upon the cross, He continued to do good as He cared for His mother and for a thief. What pleasure that brought to God.

No refinement toward holiness was ever needed. He was “that holy thing” born to Mary. Demons owned Him as holy. A centurion, observer of countless crucifixions confessed, “This was a righteous man.” And the Spirit of God adds in Hebrews 7 that He is holy! His holiness brought delight to His Father.

In Hebrews 11, after establishing the principle that faith brings pleasure to God, and after parading before our view the great heroes and heroines of faith, every eye is turned to behold another. “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of faith.” It is not “the finisher of our faith” as in our A.V. It is rather that He is the ultimate example of the life of faith. From the moment He left heaven’s portals with the words, “Lo, I come to do Thy will,” He lived a life of faith, putting into everyday life that principles of the Word of God in His life. He lived by faith every moment of His sojourn here below. Faith for Him was not, as some would claim a leap in the dark, it was living His life in the light of the Word and will of God.His holiness, faith, thankful spirit, and doing good all meant that here was a life to which the Father could testify: “This is My beloved Son in Whom is all My delight.”

Enlarged Steps

Peace Header

David could write and extol how God protected and cared for him. In one of best-known verses from the Psalms, he speaks of “As for God His way is perfect … and maketh my way perfect” (Ps 18:30, 32). He relates the ways of God with him. He attributes all the blessings he had to God’s gentleness. He spoke of God being his rock, shield, and buckler. He could face everything that life and his foes threw at him with God as his companion.

As he thought of his pathway, he spoke of how God “enlarged my steps under me” (v 36). The imagery may sound a bit foreign to us, but it would not have been to an Israelite back in David’s day. The idea is that God gave David a sure footing when the way was dangerous. It may have been meant literally as David had to negotiate the hills and cliffs of the wilderness. Some of the mountain pathways were likely narrow and treacherous. But it was definitely meant that God assured him safety in his pathway.

We have never had to tread the path we are currently on. Who would have thought that a time would come when, without the help of dementia, you could not remember what day of the week it was? Without the normal routine of certain things on certain days of the week, it seems as though every day is the same. New words have entered our vocabulary such as “social distancing” and “flattening the curve.”

We are all wired to have goals and a sense of accomplishment and yet we sit in our homes waiting for when things will change and we can return to “normal” life, whatever that will be after COVID-19.

But we can be assured of “enlarged steps” both now and then. God is dealing with us in His “gentleness” and goodness. His way is still perfect for each one of us; and if we are given grace to bow to His way, then He will make your way and mine perfect. It does not mean He will make it pleasant, just perfect, something which accomplishes His will in your life and mine.

So, your shoe size is not going to grow. You will not have an excuse for going out and buying an entire new array of shoes (plus you better not leave your house!). But you do have His promise that He will make sure your feet are secure in the pathway He has mapped out for you. Even though it is a road we have never walked before and for which there are no available maps, as we are finding out, He will make your steps enlarged under you.

So even though you have to check the calendar to see what day it is, carry a tape measure with you when you go food shopping so as to keep six feet away from everyone (just try it in the aisles of your supermarket), and try and breathe through your face mask, at least your feet will be secure on the pathway.

Enlarged (Part 2)

The name of Jabez will forever be associated with the thought of prayer. His request is one of those bright spots as you work your way through those early chapters of Chronicles where you feel as though you are reading through an old white pages phone directory.

He wanted to be blessed, and among the blessings he asked God for was, “O that Thou … enlarge my coasts (borders)” (1 Chron 4:10). Here is just one verse which stands out amidst a long list of names. Here was a man who wanted his inheritance to be enlarged or greater. He wanted to claim more of the land for himself.

Paul actually prayed this prayer for the Christians in Ephesus. He very likely had prayed it for himself many times, but the prayer in Ephesians 1 was for the readers of his letter. He asked the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ for three things for these Christians. That the eyes of their hearts might be enlightened to know:

  • The hope of His calling
  • The riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints
  • The exceeding greatness of His power, the power that was at work in raising Christ from the dead.

He wanted to shake the believers from being mediocre Christians to become enlarged in their vision and understanding. Comfortable Christianity is a danger to us all. At times, God has to rock our world a bit to make us sit up and take notice, to take inventory and ask ourselves some painful questions. When our routines and predictable lives are upset, we lose our sense of security, a security based on how we have ordered our lives. There is nothing evil in this; but He wants us to find everything in Him. Maybe, just maybe He will use the current pandemic to do that in my life.

As you watch your retirement plan bottom out, as you see the economy in dire trouble, as you endure the lockdowns and the curfews, and as you see all the avenues of service which you once did for the Lord closed, you have to stop and think. In my own case, the economy is not a big worry. It was an economic depression that took a grandfather from Italy to New York in the early 1900s instead of to Argentina where he really wanted to settle. When he came to the USA, he heard the message of the gospel and was saved. That brought the gospel eventually down to me. So, at times I say, “Thank God for recessions!”

But life has changed for now and you realize that the real point about Christianity is not the work I do for the Lord but the work He does in me. Can I use this time to begin to appreciate the “land,” the blessings into which salvation has brought us? If so, I can be enlarged. My vision will be enlarged, my worship will be enriched, and my life will be more conformed to His.

During this time of economic downtown and unemployment, lots of things are getting “smaller,” from your savings and investments to your plans for the next few months. But you can enlarge the one aspect of your life which will bring the most profit.

Getting Enlarged

No, this is not a reference to overeating while we are on lockdown, although that is a real concern.

David said, “Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress” (Ps 4:1). Literally, he was saying, “I grew under pressure.” We think in the natural sphere that pressure makes something smaller; but in the spiritual realm, pressure leads to growth.

The background of Psalms 3 and 4 is when David had to flee for his life from Absalom. His life was in danger. As well, he had no idea when the danger would end. He did not know whom to trust. His best advisor and friend had turned against him. He didn’t know where he was safe.

Sound familiar? The flood of news feeds keeps telling us of the danger. Then, as though to further beat us down, they assure us that really no one, even the experts, have any idea when all this will be over. We are reminded that no one is really safe – keep six feet away. And don’t leave your house but somehow be sure to exercise, and above all, don’t get discouraged!

And yet, though we may think this is all a deterrent to spiritual progress, all this “pressure” can actually “enlarge” us spiritually. It is a tremendous comfort to always keep in mind that God will never allow a circumstance in your life or mine that does not have the potential for spiritual growth. Even the present pandemic with the limitations it has imposed on us to meet together as believers cannot hinder our growth. But growth will not occur automatically. Growth will require effort on our part. With added time, can I use it for studying the Word of God, listening to ministry, or for prayer? Can I turn the long hours of the day to profit by reaching out to other Christians, those who are alone, to encourage them?

Spiritual growth is not a matter of doing but of being. It is not what I accomplish for God (as valuable as that is), but what I know of God and how much of Christ I can reflect in my life.

David Livingston the famous missionary to Africa of the 1800’s was once hindered from going down river. Sadly, the obstruction was the corpses of dead slaves who had been thrown into the river. When his assistants came to him telling him that they could not navigate the river, and asked where he wanted to go, he gave his famous answer: “Anywhere as long as it is forward.”

We can go forward despite the barricades on our parks and walking paths, the curfew which says we must be in at 8 pm, and the myriad of other restrictions which tell us to stay put! We can move forward and enlarge ourselves even amidst the present circumstances. Allow the pressure to make you a bigger Christian!

The Lord’s Promise

“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

2 Peter 3:9

The United States was presented with a grim and sobering prediction this week as we appear to approach that apex long predicted by leading scientists. Yet all the accumulated intellect and expertise at leading national health institutes such as the CDC and NIH, are incapable of delivering solid promises to the American people at a time when uncertainty reigns and we are left to predictive models and best-worst-case scenarios. Aspirations for better days to come are stuck in the mire of despair.  How we long for the ability of one who can promise and deliver. We yearn for certainty especially in times of so many unknowns. The Word of God has revealed to us that only God has the capacity and power to see that His promises are kept. He does not trifle with predictions because His Word is spoken and destined to be fulfilled.

Many of us can recall that time in our lives when we acknowledged that our sin, which separates us from God, was fully paid through the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ at the cross of Calvary. We came to the Lord Jesus Christ, understanding that only He could fully satisfy the awful judgment of sin, and we placed our trust in His saving power.  The promise of salvation is that sinners such as ourselves will never face an eternity of separation and judgment but will be ensured a place in the presence of our God because the Lord Jesus Christ has provided us this path by paying the full price of our sin.  We have yet to see the fruits of these blessing with our own eyes, but we have the certainty that these things await because this is precisely what God has promised. While His promises are backed by the weight of divine authority, He has delivered on this promise when His only begotten Son was nailed upon the cross of Calvary. We can take comfort in the words of that song, “no power of hell, no scheme of man, can ever pluck me from His hand,” to know the power of our salvation.  Such is the comfort we have as believers. But we ought to be mindful that many believers, who lived in previous generations, were not spared from being marched into the Coliseum to face certain death at the jaws of wild animals or from dark pandemics in their day.  To stand on the promises of Christ my Savior is not a guaranteed fail-safe from the many adversities, tragedies, and pitfalls of life. Believers will suffer tragedy, as we sadly know from our own experiences. But we take great comfort that the Lord is not slacking in His many promises, starting with salvation which has brought us back to Him and for which we give thanks and glory to God.

Yet if we have not yet come to the Father, through the Lord Jesus Christ His Son, we should tremble in reverent fear when it comes to God’s other promises.  His Word tells us in no uncertain terms that “it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this the judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27). The appointed hour of death has sadly already visited thousands of our fellow citizens in this pandemic and these turbulent times only reinforce this grim reality. Sadly, many will judge the things of eternity spoken by God through sensory perceptions and ultimately will never heed His promises. Yes, death frightens us. It is what has brought us into this protracted and unprecedented shelter-in-place order that has come at a cost to social interaction and our economy.  But what of the judgment thereafter? Can it be easily dismissed when we are reminded here that “the Lord is not slack concerning his promise.” If the promises of God, as they relate to things that scare us, are ordained to come to pass on that appointed day, then so too will the promises be fulfilled that He has made in His infinite grace. Yes, judgment awaits as He has promised. Yet God has given us His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to suffer once for sin so that He might bring us to God. (1 Peter 3:18). God patiently waits for whosoever to believe in His Son that he or she should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). He is not willing that you or I should perish. Only God can make this promise.  Only His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, could facilitate the fulfillment of this promise. Only you can fully place your trust on this promise for your salvation right now. 

The Fourth Watch

“And he saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them: and about the fourth watch of the night he cometh unto them, walking upon the sea, and would have passed by them”

Mark 6:48

The fourth day, the fourth man, and the fourth watch all have related truths in which we can find comfort and confidence.

They had entered the boat at His request. He had constrained them to enter it and to go to the other side to Bethsaida while He sent the people away. Did they wonder about how He would get there? Were they wondering what was delaying Him and what He was doing?

They had obeyed His request. And yet … the wind suddenly arose, perhaps a gale was blowing. There was among them, seasoned fisherman, accustomed to storms. But this was a challenge even for them. Why should things go wrong when they had obeyed Him and where they were supposed to be? Wasn’t everything supposed to go smoothly when you obeyed?

Two things are worthy of note before looking at the Lord’s arrival on the scene: He had prepared them for this trial. Earlier, He was with them in a storm on the sea. He was available to them and they only had to awaken Him and call upon Him for help (Mark 4:35-40). 

Second, He was not really away from them. He was upon the mount praying (v 46) and His eyes were watching them (v 48). They did not know it, but He was as much with them while on the mount as He had been when in the ship.

They must have wondered as well, how everything would work out. He had said He would get them to the other shore, but it looked hopeless. They kept rowing as the hours passed. Finally, the fourth watch of the night, as late as it could be before the sunrise, He came. The waves they were fearing became the very vehicle which brought Him: He came walking on the waves. They did not recognize and understand everything at first, they thought it was a spirit. But when He entered the small boat, the wind ceased, and all was calm.

We can be faced with things which “do not make sense.” Our plans and goals can be upset. We think we are in the mind of the Lord and yet problems seem to arise. We struggle and wait, and things do not get better. It may not be the fourth watch of the night yet. He had to let them exhaust all their own strength before He came. It is not that He finds delight in seeing us struggle; He delights in having us depend on Him. We would want Him to arrive in the first watch of the night; to come immediately when problems begin to arise. He is not ignorant, impotent, or indifferent to our situation as we face COVID-19. Especially with being homebound, we want this thing over now if not yesterday. Maybe it’s not the fourth watch of the night as yet.

The fourth day became the day of His presence in their sorrow; the fourth Man was His presence in the fire; the fourth watch was His presence in the storm. Each provided a revelation of His greatness and sufficiency.

The Fourth Man

“Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? … Lo I see four men loose, walking … the fourth is like the Son of God” Dan. 3:24, 25

The story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego is familiar to every Sunday school child. Who cannot marvel at the courage and conviction of the three Hebrew boys who refused to bend and blend in with everyone, falling down to worship the image? Their resolute faith in God has been an encouragement and example to generations of tried believers ever since. They not only did not fear before the king, but they were willing to stand out even from their fellow countrymen.

The words they spoke to the king are a testimony to both their scriptural intelligence and spirituality: “Our God Whom we serve is able to deliver us … but if not … we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image” (Dan 3:17, 18).

As a result of their stand for God, they were cast alive into the burning fiery furnace. To the astonishment of the king and his entourage of onlookers, what they saw were four men walking freely amidst the fire.

The fourth Man is always there in the trial! There are times when He delivers from the trial and the believers do not know the furnace experience. But even if He does not, then He is always with us in the furnace of trial. As a result of being in the furnace, they knew His presence: He was with them, walking together. They knew His protection: the fire did not consume them. And they knew His power as there was not even the smell of smoke on them. The fire that slew the men who cast them into the furnace had no effect on them at all.

We are in a time of trial, perhaps the worst societal trial which many have experienced in a lifetime. We have no promise in the Word of God as to when this will end or what we can expect. We do have the promise of His presence. For the believer, while we look for deliverance from it, we have His presence with us in the trial. I doubt if the three Hebrew young men would have traded the trial for anything Babylon could possibly offer.

Just as there was a fourth day in the experience of Mary and Martha, so there was a fourth person in the experience of three young men. Never forget the fourth man in any trial which comes into our lives.

The Fourth Day

They had sent a message to the Lord. They were assured of His love and interest, but He had not come in time. Hopes they entertained for healing slowly ebbed. The inevitable happened, crushing the last faint glimmer the had for his recovery. Reality confronted them – he died.

The funeral cortege followed the grieving sisters to the tomb where they laid the body of their brother Lazarus. One day passed, then two, and then three. He did not come.

But then Martha heard that He was coming. She ran to meet Him and poured out her grief at His feet. He, in turn, gave her a revelation and a promise of seeing His glory.

Mary had remained quietly behind in the house. Her grief was just as real but expressed in a different way. The divine sympathizer knew how to address and comfort each of them. Together, they made their way to the tomb.

At the site of the tomb, the Lord Jesus issued His command to remove the stone. Martha, ever the practical one, remonstrated that it was the fourth day. In her mind, the fourth day meant it was too late to do anything. She thought the Lord was too late! And we all know the rest of the story.

Perhaps as we “shelter in place,” we feel like the sisters did as they awaited the coming of the Lord and His healing touch. We have prayed; we have supplicated for His intervention. In some places there are believers who are afflicted with COVID-19 and assemblies are praying. Yet He does not come.

The virus continues to spread with epicenters in the New Jersey-New York area. We are that red dot in the center of the dart board. The pandemic has come, and we feel as though it is the fourth day – nothing can be done now. We are immersed in it! The Lord is too late.

Are you sure of that? Do you think that somehow things are out of control? We have to assert again that God does not cause pandemics during this age of grace. Sickness and disease are the fruit of sin in our world. But God uses even the evil for His purposes. Sin may fuel the ship of evil, but God is able to steer it in whatever direction He chooses.

So, continue to pray; continue to look for God to use all that is happening for the good of sinners, the blessing of His people, and to further His great purposes. It may be the “fourth day,” but God is not finished.

Thy Will Be Done

A meditation on the Lord’s prayer in Gethsemane

My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26.39)

Why did our Lord Jesus pray thus in Gethsemane?

He knew His Father’s will and was always determined to fulfill it, continually and unwaveringly. To this the Scriptures witness in abundance… 

In John’s record, the cross is forefront in His thinking from beginning to end throughout His manifestation: 

It was in His own words before His first sign: 

         “My hour has not yet come” (John 2.4). 

And when the time drew near: 

The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit… Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name” (John 12.23-28). 

And before Gethsemane: 

         “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you” (John 17.1)

The lengthiest section of Luke’s record spans from Luke 9.51: 

         “When the days drew near for Him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem” 

To Luke 19.41:

         “When He drew near and saw the city” 

There portraying Jesus’ final journey to Jerusalem, not necessarily a direct journey in geographical terms, but with unmistakable deliberateness: 

He sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him. But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem” (Luke 9.52-53).

Likewise in Matthew, when Jesus reaches what is probably the place farthest north and away from Jerusalem, it’s then that: 

[North of Israel, in Caesarea Philippi] “Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised” (Matthew 16.21) 

There the long southward journey to the cross starts; not a visit due to a feast of the Jews, as was His custom, but a deliberate journey to His Scriptural destiny, through which He prepared His afraid disciples accordingly:

[South of Caesarea Philippi] “As they were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them [the disciples], “The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him, and He will be raised on the third day.” And they were greatly distressed.” (Matthew 17.22-23)

[South of Galilee, already in Judea] “As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way he said to them, ‘See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.’” (Matthew 20.17-19) 

[And already in Jerusalem] “He said to his disciples, ‘You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified… Go into the city to a certain man and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, my time is at hand.’’” (Matthew 26.1-2, 18)

Also His certainty on the complete fulfillment of the Scriptures is evident that very fateful night:

And as they were eating, he said, ‘Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me… The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed!’” (Matthew 26.21-24)

Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.”” (Matthew 26.31-32)

At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples left him and fled.” (Matthew 26.55-56)

Why then did He pray thus “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.“? (Matthew 26.39) 

We are standing on “holy ground”, in the presence of the “Holy One” and “True God”, and “who is sufficient for these things?” But can we consider a thought about this, even if inaccurate, or too human, yet profitable for us in knowing Him, loving Him and emulating Him better?

At Gethsemane we peer into His soul. It’s a unique disclosure in the record. The written hour has come, and the majestic Christ’s inner being is deeply moved:

         “He began to be sorrowful and troubled.”  (Matthew 26.37)

         “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” (Matthew 26.38)

And at the least by way of application to us, in human identification with Him, as Christians, we could think this way: In a difficult hour, when distress has come, but it’s not to settle in the heart: 

God, you are my Father, my loving and all-caring Father. 

You can be trusted completely in all circumstances, and all things are possible for you, even now.

Above all I want that your will be done. This may not[1] be taken away from me. 

I do recoil at the event to come. My Father: Can this be taken away from me?

But I want your will done, not mine!

And there appeared to Him an angel from Heaven, strengthening Him.” (Luke 22.43)

Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.”  (Matthew 26.42)

In your strength I am determined to carry out your will.

For this reason I pray to you intently, because I want your will done.

May you be honored in me, whether by life or by death.

Therefore I pray to you in this hour: “Your will be done”

My Father!

The disciples at Gethsemane ought to have prayed that they may not enter into temptation, but the holy Lord Jesus could not be tempted to sin. Yet He experienced sorrows and distress, like we do, and thus, He experienced the sorrow of this tremendous hour. What should be done then?

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”  (Philippians 4.6).

Let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.”  (1 Peter 4.19)

The time at Gethsemane is ended. The majestic Christ is no longer prostrate, but leading the events to come. The cross is still ahead. And He continues His journey to it, and He’s not going to let any of the Scriptures fall to the ground: “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.” (John 4.34)

In that very same place the Lord Jesus says to His disciples:

         “Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand” (Matthew 26.46)

And to the betrayer:

         “Friend, do what you came to do.” (Matthew 26.50)

And to the impulsive disciple:

“Put your sword back into its place… Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?” (Matthew 26.52-54)

And to the “arresting” crowds: 

All this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled’. (Then all the disciples left him and fled)” (Matthew 26.56)

And later on, to the earthly judge:

 “He gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed” (Matthew 27.14)

And to the great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him:

Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves” (Luke 23.28)

Nevertheless we understand that Gethsemane was not the end: the cross He faced completely. In another unique disclosure of the travail of His soul, we hear the cry that still pierces through the soul of each individual cleansed by His precious blood:

         “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27.46, Mark 15.34)

And we worship Him who in unshakable trust and obedience to the Father, came from above, endured the cross, glorified His Father, saved our souls, and went back where He was before:

Fatherinto your hands I commit my spirit!” (Luke 23.46)


[1] Christ could have said “this cannot be taken away from me”.