Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Beautiful, Part Two

What kind of love is this?

Jesus’ ordeal actually began in the Garden of Gethsemane. Because He is both God and man, He knew in vivid detail what was about to happen to His very human body before it happened. Gethsemane means "oil press.” Jesus suffered so much anguish there from the pressure of knowing what was to come that His sweat was as drops of blood, just as an olive would have the oil pressed out. Despite His request that His disciples remain awake with Him through His ordeal, they repeatedly fell asleep. They had no idea how momentous the time was, or that tomorrow would be nothing at all like yesterday.

“But I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man will certainly suffer at their hands." Matthew 17:12 And he strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” Luke 9:21-22

Then Jesus said to them, "You will all fall away because of me this night, for it is written, 'I will strike down the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered.'” Matthew 26:31

Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and He told the disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.”  Taking along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed.  Then He said to them, “My soul is swallowed up in sorrow—to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake with Me.”  Going a little farther, He fell facedown and prayed, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.”  Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping. He asked Peter, “So, couldn’t you stay awake with Me one hour?  Stay awake and pray, so that you won’t enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”  Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, Your will be done.”  And He came again and found them sleeping, because they could not keep their eyes open.  After leaving them, He went away again and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more. Then He came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the time is near. The Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners.  Get up; let’s go! See, My betrayer is near.”  Matthew 26:36-46

And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. Luke 22:44

While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, "The one I will kiss is the man; seize him." And he came up to Jesus at once and said, "Greetings, Rabbi!" And he kissed him. Jesus said to him, "Friend, do what you came to do." Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him. And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, "Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 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?" 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 26:47-56

What is true strength?

When we think of strength, we usually think of someone relying on themselves to achieve something great. God sees it differently. Contrary to human logic, the weakest is the strongest. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:10 He is the source of all strength, so the mightiest one is the one who relies fully on Him. The greatest is the one who laid down their own will and accepted His. Jesus knew that His suffering and sacrifice was the ONLY way to save us—that He was the ONLY One who could do it. And through it all, He submitted Himself to the will of His Father, even asking forgiveness for the sins of those continuing to mock and reject Him as He died. We have nothing to compare this kind of cruelty and ignorance to. I can’t imagine anyone in this day suffering like that, let alone anyone taunting them in their agony! But Jesus’ love and His faithfulness was stronger—He accomplished the purpose for which He came. He finished it once and for all.

And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. And Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." And they cast lots to divide his garments. And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, "He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!" The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine and saying, "If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!" There was also an inscription over him, "This is the King of the Jews." One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, "Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!" Luke 23:33-39

When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, so they said to one another, "Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be." This was to fulfill the Scripture which says, "They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots." John 19:23-24

When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:30

This is Part Two of a series.  You may download the entire devotional in a "pretty" format here or in a basic, small file size format with highlighting here.

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