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Gethsemane Meditations

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A ministry of www.ConhecendoDeus.com.br Knowing God through the Humanity of Christ John Kokenzie, Jr.
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A ministry of www.ConhecendoDeus.com.br

Knowing God through the Humanity of Christ

John Kokenzie, Jr.

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created 11.5.2009

What would God be like if He were a man? We can know this through Jesus Christ. He is the God-man. The

greatest exhibition of the humanity of Jesus Christ was in the Garden of Gethsemane. May the following

meditations from the Garden deepen your knowledge of our God and enrich your relationship with Him.

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What would God be like if He were a man? The answer to this intriguing question is answered in the person of Jesus Christ. He is the God-man. When Jesus was conceived in the womb it was by way of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is God robed in human flesh. The way He lived, how He talked, what He did, how He responded to life are all a revelation of our God. The longer we look into the life of the Lord Jesus the deeper will be our knowledge of God. This was by divine design. God wants us to know Him. Christ literally fleshed out our God for all to see. The theological term for this is incarnation (en-flesh-ment). No true understanding of God is complete until one spends time at the feet of Jesus Christ and considers God in human form. We know that Jesus did not simply come in the appearance of human flesh. He actually became a man. His most favorite title for Himself was, “Son of man,” a title which is peculiar, first, because He had no earthly man for a father, and second, because He is also the “Son of God.” This title, however, did our Lord use more than any other, and we must believe it was because He wanted to highlight the significance of His incarnation. How human was Jesus Christ? While He never lost His deity on sinlessness, we can also be confident that He was completely human. He was tempted like us, hungry like us, weary like us, thirsty like us and the list goes on. In fact, Jesus not only took on full humanity, He also lived a life that endured the pressures of humanity to their fullest extent. Scripture records, “We have not an high priest [Jesus Christ]which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Heb. 4:15). When we open our Bible and take our journey into the Garden of Gethsemane on that fateful night when Christ agonized over Calvary, we come face to face with the fullness of Christ‟s humanity. Our eyes are immediately opened to the human frailty Christ accepted for His earthly sojourn. The longer one peers past the olive trees to the anguish of Christ the more he begins to learn about God. It is from this vantage point the following meditations were drawn. They do not have any

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special order but they do have special significance. They are the observations of one who has grown exceedingly in his appreciation for the God that saved Him by suffering and dying in His place.

36Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. 37And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.

38Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. 39And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.

40And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? 41Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing,

32And they came to a place which was named Gethsemane: and he saith to his disciples, Sit ye here, while I shall pray.

33And he taketh with him Peter and James and John, and began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy; 34And saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch. 35And he went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. 36And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt. 37And he cometh, and findeth them sleeping, and saith unto Peter, Simon, sleepest thou? couldest not thou watch one hour? 38Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready,

40And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation.

41And he was withdrawn from them about a stone‟s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, 42 Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. 43And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. 44And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. 45And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow, 46And said unto them, Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.

1When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into the which he entered, and his disciples. 2And Judas also, which betrayed him, knew the place: for Jesus ofttimes resorted thither with his disciples.

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but the flesh is weak. 42He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. 43And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy. 44And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. 45Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me.

but the flesh is weak. 39And again he went away, and prayed, and spake the same words. 40And when he returned, he found them asleep again, (for their eyes were heavy,) neither wist they what to answer him. 41And he cometh the third time, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: it is enough, the hour is come; behold, the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42Rise up, let us go; lo, he that betrayeth me is at hand.

Remember, that which Christ suffered both in Gethsemane and on Calvary was for you and me. This brings our vision of Gethsemane into the keenest focus. The anguish and suffering, the steadfastness and spirituality of the scene—of our Lord—all had their direct connections to us. If we were not eternally important to Him, He would never have entered Gethsemane or marched onward to the cross. Jesus Christ had the power to renounce His claims as the Messiah and so avoid the cross, but He remained resolute, that we might escape our deserved damnation. Take note of the anguish He suffered and especially the wrestling He had in prayer. These speak of His frail human flesh which resisted the torments of the coming cross. Then notice Christ‟s resilience. His spirit was willing to take that lonely march to the cross. He valued His Father‟s will too much to turn back.

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Never one time should we think Christ lost interest in us, even when He asked His appointed cup to pass. Let us give room for His genuine humanity. He simply desired a search for some other way. We now know that there was none. Someone had to die for sin. Christ was the only fit sacrifice. As Christ reflected on this prospect it was a terror to His mind. All of us know how intense thoughts and extreme emotions can distract us in our frail humanity. Jesus' human mind certainly was consumed—not so much the nails and thorns, but that He would be forsaken by His Father as He would suffer the punishment for mankind‟s sin. Like a flood, how could His human mind, for so He took one on, not be distracted from the purpose of His deed, if even but for a moment? Most of us have suffered anguish for another. Many have spent nights in prayer for those who have wondered off in sin. At such times, we are consumed with repetitious thoughts, agonizing over them again and again. Here we see Christ, in accentuated humanity, bowing with His face to the earth at the prospect before Him! Behold, the man! Let us never forget that this experience and His undaunted commitment to fulfill the will of His Father were for us! We are unworthy wretches but somehow, God, in His vast and boundless heart of love, had within Him the capacity to esteem us valuable enough to Him—the Eternal and Almighty One—to do the utmost for our salvation. He became it in human form and suffered under the weight of it until finally He was cut off from the land of the living. This we must never forget.

Our finite minds cannot fully understand (1) the Almighty Holy God, (2) the severity of our sin against Him, (3) the eternal torments of Hell we deserve or (4) the horror Christ suffered on the cross. Jesus Christ knew and understood these things much better than any, and with that knowledge, He also knew that He was the one destined to suffer on the cross the hellish damnation we deserve. Had Jesus been God only, His anguish in Gethsemane would have never happened. He was, however, God and man, and, as man—fully man—the full

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weight that came upon His mind of what He was soon to endure nearly killed Him. In fact, had He not had an angel to minister to Him, it seems very probable that His humanity could not have endured the thoughts that pressed upon His mind. Our Lord Jesus even said, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.” I dare say we will never understand the suffering of the cross like Jesus did—praise His name—but we sure can better appreciate it as we observe Christ in the garden of Gethsemane seeking His Father‟s face to have victory over the temptation to forsake it. In fact, as I continue to ponder Christ, I see the temptation in the garden of Gethsemane to be many times more difficult to overcome than those temptations of Satan that came early in His ministry (Lk. 4). Those were petty lusts to fulfill one's pride or flesh, but, here, we find the God-man staring the horrors of being abandoned by His eternal Father only to be punished under the weight of man's sin—the very sin that was against Him, and that by sinners who wanted Him on that cross in the first place! Yes, I do believe this time in the Garden was a time of temptation exceedingly greater than when the Devil took Him to the pinnacle of the Temple.

To me one of the most precious words that our Lord ever spoke on earth was this compound word "nevertheless." It points to the innocent submissiveness of our Lord to His Father. His flesh was brought trembling to the ground in the Garden, and His heart burst into the prayer, "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt" (Matt. 26:39). At first thought of His impending damnation on the cross, our Lord pours out that which was pressing in on His soul. He could barely handle the thought of it, and in fact, could not, save that an angel ministered unto Him. Yet, just as soon as those words poured from His lips, they were followed by the word "nevertheless," and nevertheless what? He submits, "Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt." The surrender of His will to the Father was always there, and it came out with the burst of anguish. That word "nevertheless" is a compound word, and it has many times brought me near to the heart of God. Jesus was saying, "I do not want to go through with this terrible suffering, yet, never-the-less, that is, without any decrease in my submissiveness to my Father, without any change in my level of obedience, without any loss of hope for fallen humanity, I will submit to my Father's will and go all the way through to the cross!" When He said nevertheless,

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He meant that there was no decrease, no lessening of His intent to obey the Father's will. This is most precious to me. The Lord Jesus placed an extremely high premium on praying through temptation. “Being in an agony he prayed more earnestly” not less earnestly. He pressed on! Too often we quit on God when agony comes. Not so with our Lord. He allowed His pain and trial to push Him to His Father and not away.

Christ's agony in the Garden of Gethsemane is to me the finest demonstration of His humanity. Every bit of it speaks of true humanness. He (1) expresses His emotional status to His disciples, (2) seeks a place where He can be alone, but where at least His closest friends can be nearby, (3) is so vexed mentally and emotionally it would have killed Him had not an angel ministered to Him, (4) paces back and forth to check on His disciples, but comes only to disappointment and astonishment when they could not share enough in His trial to pray with Him, and furthermore, seems to question why they would sleep as if He did not know that their sorrow for Him was the actual cause of their sleep, (5) falls on His face in prayer, (6) acknowledges that His will, though able to be submitted to God's will, wrestles with God's will, and (7) repeats the same prayer three times. These are not divine traits. Jesus is divine, and, has always been so, but upon His virgin birth, He took upon the form of man. He was fully human, and so, what became an additional nature, temporarily subtracted His full use of divine power, knowledge and so forth. I cannot understand this. Elsewhere we see Him demonstrating power and wisdom that can only be that which God could possess, but such expression of deity we can never let subtract from His humanity. The Bible plainly states Christ became not merely a sympathetic high priest, but an empathetic one. He knows our infirmities. He understands temptation at the human level. He endured it. (Furthermore, anyone who denies the humanity of Christ is considered an antichrist [II Jn. 1:7], which shows the interesting importance of Christ's humanness.)

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What does this do for me? It deeply increases my appreciation for what I have in Christ. He not only secured salvation for me, but He went to an unimaginable, inexpressible cost to procure it for me. I love you, Jesus! Critics of Jesus Christ need to spend some time with Him in the Garden of Gethsemane. The entire scene defies anything a human mind could conceive—that of God wrestling with the decisions of God, because He had come to earth in true human flesh to be a sincere and sufficient sacrifice for humanity. In fact, while it would seem logical that the humanity expressed in this episode would detract from His deity, it actually magnifies it, because it paints a picture so vastly foreign to anything we would ever imagine, it can only be from above. It is far more likely that the story is completely true than that some lying writer claimed Jesus was God and then went through all this effort to expose His humanity. That would not make sense, but, to God, it makes perfect sense!

I have come to believe that a proper understanding of Calvary comes by way of Gethsemane. As I read the passages, Jesus Christ is described as being “in agony,” “sorrowful and very heavy,” “sore amazed,” “kneeled down” and “[falling] on his face.” He, Himself, plainly said, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.” His mental anguish had to be due to His deep realization of what the cross involved. This near death experience was kept from true death only because “there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.” He is God, no doubt, but from this dark hour, the fullness of His humanity is realized, maybe even more so than from His death on the cross. Many thoughts race through my mind as I meditate on this, but one continues to pervade the rest. It is this: whatever victory Jesus got in Gethsemane kept Him steadfast on the cross. I would say that He somehow endured the agony of the cross by means of prayer in Gethsemane. There is a mystery to all of it for me, but it is a mystery that continues to draw my interest. When we listen to Christ on the cross, He makes seven key statements. I note that only two show any anguish: “I thirst,” and “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me,” and the first may simply be to fulfill Scripture.* If so, then the only real anguish that Christ verbalized was the spiritual separation which He had from His Father. This stands out to me. Whatever we make of the nails, cross, the whip or the cursing by the priests and scribes, does not compare to the horror Jesus suffered the moment God turned His back on Him! I‟ll say the torment of that experience when the eternal love of

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God the Father and God the Son was vexed and separated leaves me nearly speechless. Christ was damned on the cross. How much plainer can we put it? This deeply impacts my heart. And, think of this! No matter how much we imagine the horror to have been for our Lord, it is a horror that we absolutely will never experience because He took it in our place! I am feasting on this; He is the bread of life. His salvation is ours to enjoy as much as He suffered to get it for us! Nobody has ever enjoyed it too much. [*It is also possible that He said, “I thirst,” because He was longing for the voice of His Father, who was not speaking to Him. Two good reasons to believe this are that (1) He said these two words just after stating He was forsaken and (2) the verse plainly states “After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, „I thirst.‟”]

Only Jesus knows what exactly occurred on the cross those three hours when the sun darkened and His Father forsook Him. Whatever happened was completed before His death, for He died after saying that statement of completion, "It is finished." Maybe by this He only meant that He had totally fulfilled all prophecy concerning the first coming of the Messiah, but, if not, it could very well mean that the fullness of damnation was taken there, on the cross, and when He finally died, it was the proof of it. I do not know. I do wonder if His consciousness in that time of suffering parallels the suffering in complete consciousness experienced by sinners in Hell. Many, including myself, have inferred from the type in Jonah and the substitutionary nature of Christ's death, that Christ suffered Hell only after He died on the cross. I have moved away from this view because though the type in Jonah seems very explicit, it is but a type and does not bring into account Christ‟s words on the cross. Let it be said that because of what Christ stated on the cross, something very terrible had to have happened on the cross. Even though He fulfilled Scripture by crying, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" yet why else would He say this unless He had actually at that moment, prior to His death, been forsaken? This, to me, puts a lot of weight on Christ's time on the cross; that is, He experienced Hell‟s equivalent and all its horrific damnation right there consciously on the cross, and though no fire was seen, yet He suffered just as if His whole body were in flames. We cannot deny, whatever view we take, that something was happening there on the cross more than is explicitly expressed in

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the written record. Christ was left alone, bearing man's sin, and He was totally aware of the absence of His Father. What exactly was that experience? No saint will ever know. Hellfire, however, is in human terms the best way we can express it, and it seems to me that this is why fire is so regularly emphasized in the written record. Does this mean that the fire is not real? I do not say that, nor do I believe that. The Bible never makes out that the fire is only a figure of separation from God, but actually a part of the separation. Yet, without fire on the cross, I believe Jesus experienced its equal while hanging there. If anything, let us rejoice. This is a mystery to us and always will be; He suffered it in its fullest so we do not have to know it in the slightest!

How terrible must be our sin if Christ actually begged exemption from its punishment! Was there ever another time in our Lord‟s life when He behaved in this way? I do not know of one. I want to observe this shrinking from the cup of the cross by our Lord in the scope of all things. He is the Creator of all things, even the former of the very tree from which the cross was taken, and just before He was to be crucified on it, he shriveled in the Garden. He holds the weight of the entire world without breaking a sweat, but then sweat pours from His brow at the thought of Calvary! I cannot help but think that sin must be unimaginably vile to God. I am also convinced sin‟s appropriate punishment—the eternal Inferno—is absolutely and inexplicably horrific. I am saved from my sin, but I still tremble at the thought of Hell. This then pushes me to one point further. If such be the case, that sin is extremely severe and Hell is unimaginably horrific, how boundless must be the love of God, who after having fallen on His face in the garden with a plea to avoid being our substitute, that He would yet, "nevertheless," go through with it! What a precious and sacred thought! This is a thought that should not be passed over lightly or quickly!

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We must give attention to the struggle Christ in His humanity had with the will of His Father. He wanted Christ to go to the cross; this was very difficult for Christ to accept, though accept it He did (and with a sinless attitude). What did Christ understand about the horrors of the cross that brought about His prayerful wrestling in the Garden of Gethsemane? Our physical eyes are immediately drawn to the nails, thorns and cat-of-nine-tails. These, however painful they were, could not possibly be the height of our Lord‟s suffering. They may be emblematic and certainly reveal Christ‟s suffering to those who do not yet have the spiritual discernment to see beyond the visible, but He never one times mentions these things. On the cross, we have recorded only seven statements, none of which speak of physical pain. To add to this point, consider Christ‟s life up to the Garden. It was rugged. He did not have a place to lay his head. He surely was accustomed to suffering. Likewise, I do not believe Jesus had lost His desire to redeem fallen humanity. He would not have finally and unequivocally said “nevertheless” unless He had His heart in it. His Father showed no signs of forcing Him. I do see, however, something which gives a very worthy answer to the question before us. When Christ suffered on the cross His most exclamatory statement was “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” He said only six other short phrases, but this one stands out among the rest. It shows bitter agony, even confusion. If, then, I am to discern what Christ dreaded while in the Garden, I am going to believe it was this separation from His Father. Besides, damnation, in its strictest sense is separation from God. Christ, as our substitute, was banished from God for us. This damnation suffered by our Lord must have been the equivalent of the Hell we deserve. It is true, we see no fire ascending from the cross, but there was that deathly absence of His Father which cannot be silenced. Ponder as we will, we can only speculate as to the horror of this experience. We will never endure it; Christ did so that we would not have to! Let us make the situation for our Lord as plain as possible: Jesus Christ experienced Hell on the cross for us. Every moment of this damnation was eternal for Him who had always had a perfect and inseparable relation with His

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heavenly Father. Those were three everlasting hours of darkness when His Father was nowhere to be found. For those of us who have entered into the love of God, to be put out of that love is a horrific thought. Jesus knew that love in its fullness and then it was suddenly taken from Him as He became sin for us. This brings me to the mystery of Gethsemane and the mystery of the cross. Oh, how precious is that mystery, and for all those who believe in Christ, it will remain a mystery! Hallelujah! We will never be able to understand all Christ experienced and we will never have to! He experienced it for us once for all on the cross! He has redeemed us not only from the experience of Hell but also from a full comprehension of it.

Christ's conflict was further compounded by (1) the hideousness of sin that He would bear, (2) the betrayal of a disciple that had been dear unto Him, (3) the failure of His disciples to remain by His side, (4) the attacks of Satan, and (5) the fact that this entire effort to redeem mankind was not going to be received by the great majority of people. How could He endure all these things unless it was that an angel ministered unto Him? Let us consider these additional torments which plagued His thoughts in the Garden. First, sin would be put upon Him. What exactly does that mean? We know it must be—at least—forensic. That is, He was imputed, or attributed, the sin that others had committed, and was thus damned on the cross. If that is all that happened it was horrific, because of the damnation. If, however, as the Bible says, "He became sin for us," and we take that in a supernatural sense (not just a legal sense), then we find Christ, in all His holy purity, being thoroughly and unimaginably contaminated. Every culture has a certain level of disgust for something. The Middle Eastern culture, however, has a heightened consciousness; this is especially true for the Jews. Their purity laws so pervade life that filth is exceedingly repugnant, abominable and vile to them. Sin, the vilest of all things to God, was what Christ not only bore, but became! We must see that it was an utterly repulsive thing for His mind to even consider. This added to His anguish.

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Then, Christ did not come to the garden in a world of friends. Gethsemane was the very same place where His closest friends would abandon Him and one would betray Him. He was about to perform the greatest act in human history by means of the greatest self-sacrifice to endure the grossest and most painful experience imaginable for the benefit of fallen humanity, and along the way He is isolated, alone—left to handle it Himself. The worst part of all this was the betrayal of Judas. How could a man that Christ and His disciples had trusted with money do such a thing? How could He allow the devil to control Him so? Jesus knew it was happening and even anticipated it, yet such a thought within the mind of the God of love, must have added to His sorrow and torment. Add to this that if ever Satan was going to attack Christ, it would seem it was in the Garden. The temptations of the devil at the beginning of Christ's ministry were insignificant compared to this moment. Christ was under intense pressure, and every part of His flesh was crying out for relief, which gave the devil ample ammunition for tortuous temptation. The Lord Jesus, in the midst of all else, had this to endure also. Fourth, Christ had to know, for His parables continually taught it, that the great majority of humanity was not going to turn to Him, that the overwhelming majority would not only fail to trust in Him, but there are also literally billions who have not even heard this gospel story. If we take the parable of the sower, then we must account that only 25% of those who hear will believe, and of those only a fraction will bear significant fruit. Are we to suppose that this was not in His mind? It stands to reason that this had to be one of the most poignant reasons for Christ not to go through with the substitutionary sacrifice; nevertheless, He laid down His life, surrendered Himself into the hands of wretched, baneful, woeful and hateful sinners. Allowed Himself to say, "Not my will, but thine be done," and after severe torture accepted the cross and its ultimate damnation. This had to have been part of the horror Christ knew in the Garden.

We know the Garden of Gethsemane was beautified by olive trees. The name Gethsemane itself means “olive press.” It is fitting that such a term would be employed in the very place where Christ was pressed. The olive was pressed by a huge stone. As the stone rolled, oil was ably excreted into the press. Calvary was the stone the pressed upon our Lord in Gethsemane.

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Its weight was so great that Jesus “sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” Medically speaking, there is a condition which adds bodily fluid to the sweat of one in deep agony, so that it appears as blood. Very few have ever made it to such a point where they remained under the weight of their troubles enough to sweat as our Lord did. Usually, we find some excuse for evading responsibility. We somehow justify our way out of the pressure. Not so with our Lord! He allowed the press to be applied and it nearly killed Him. If ever there was a scene in the Bible which won my heart over to Christ it was that of His agony in Gethsemane. For me, it revealed so much more of Calvary than ever I would have known. Imagine, the God-man actually struggling—and He did it all for me!

My life has been arrested by the agony of Christ. He did not simply die; He foreknew coming horror, got up under its weight, faced it without failure and allowed the fullness of damnation to be His experience, that I might have eternal life and peace. I deeply treasure my salvation. It is no cheap gift. The Bible records that Jesus was crushed first in His mind while in the Garden, then in His body by the Roman soldiers and finally in His soul on the cross. Every moment of this anguish was experienced that Christ might buy my pardon. I cannot escape the fact that this high price for my eternal freedom obligates me to live for Him. His love constrains me; His worth convinces me. We must all do our best to calculate the price of our salvation. The deeper we grasp it, the deeper it will grasp us. We will never know it fully though, not even in eternity, because to do so we would have to experience what Christ experienced, and this will never happen—praise God!

The nature of Christ is mysterious. We know He was simultaneously God and man, but we cannot explain it. Nevertheless, we are permitted to peak within the veil of His nature to some degree, and we should. There is so much to appreciate and apply to our own lives.

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When it comes to Christ‟s humanity, we are able to observe what a perfectly sinless person is like. If we imitate Christ, therefore, we cannot go wrong. Furthermore, by observing Christ in Gethsemane we are able to discern those things that we might do under pressure that show weakness or frailty from those actions which demonstrate a lack of faith. Jesus Christ never lacked faith—He was full of faith—but, He was also touched with the feelings of our infirmities; that is, He, though God, lived within the confines of humanity. He was truly a man. Watch our Lord in the Garden of Gethsemane. What a paradoxical sight! There are a number of actions you will see Him do which are not actions of deity, only simple humanity. These are highly instructive, especially as they reveal how even a sinless person is affected emotionally, physically and mentally under stress. Ultimately, what we observe gives a great measure of relief. First, we are relieved because we know Christ empathizes with us. He not only knows all our infirmities because He is God, but also because He personally experienced them. It is, no doubt, for this cause we read, “We have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). Second, we are relieved because we can see those stress related actions of humanity which are only natural, not sinful, because as they were in Christ they certainly could not be evil. He had no sin, even in His time of greatest anguish and sorrow. If ever our response in times of stress is in question, take it to Gethsemane. Observe Christ. His manner in the Garden is the example for us all. Whatever Christ endured in body and soul on Calvary, He experienced in mind and emotion in Gethsemane. His time in the Garden was preparation for Golgotha. He said He was experiencing great sorrow and heaviness. Thoughts were overwhelming. He even admitted that He nearly died right there without ever getting to the cross. Praise God for the angel which ministered unto Him. His infirm human body and mind were being taxed beyond their limit. His only hope was to call upon His Father in prayer, to which He was readily answered and sustained. We might suppose that Christ marched from the pulpit to the cross with His brawny chest out, ready to conquer the devil. This is not how it happened. He

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passed through dreaded Gethsemane—the place where His anticipation of the cross became most clear. In that Garden, He was tormented in His mind. What was the exact thought that nearly cast down His soul? The answers are many. First and foremost, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, did not want to be separated from His Father. If He was to be our substitute, however, He had to go through with it. Our sin was deserving of such separation. Jesus, who had only known eternal sinless fellowship with His Father, was aghast at the thought of any separation. The horror of being abandoned by God was devastating. There is no terror ever experienced on earth to compare to it. What helps us see that it was this separation that brought Christ trembling to His knees in the Garden is what actually took place on the cross. There the epitome of His suffering is expressed in the words, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Of His other six sayings on the cross, none speak of the nails, thorns or mockery of those surrounding Him. Christ could really only think about what He lost in His relationship with His Father. Ultimately, the separation was damnation. He was shunned by His Father. Analogous to this would be as if a father and son walked along a pathway together enjoying each other‟s sweet company. Winding up the path they come to the edge of the highest cliff. The father, instructing his son to stand on the outer edge, guides his son to a place of crumbling footing. The son cries out for his father to see if there is a better place to put his feet. The father says, “No, son. You must stand there.” The boy does and as the ground crumbles beneath his feet, the father removes his hand from that of his son, and turns his back while his son plummets to a frightening death on the rocks below. This is what Christ experienced for us. Someone could reasonably ask, “How could God do that to His Son?” The answer rests in His love for you and me. God did not spare His Son from the cross; this made it possible to save us from sin. Christ was damned in our place that we would not have to perish for eternity. Thank God for the willingness of Jesus Christ! We must not forget, however, the totality of Christ‟s suffering because of the large shadow cast by His separation from the Father. There were other horrors that Christ endured in Gethsemane. These greatly compounded Christ‟s primary concern. In just a simple list they include, first, that He would become sin for us. Second, He would be rejected by His people. Third, He would be betrayed by one

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of the twelve as well as forsaken by the others. Fourth, He would not be trusted by everyone. Five, in the grand scheme of things very few people have truly turned to Christ and even fewer have lived for Him completely. So, as we see from a human perspective, the Lord Jesus had an untold amount of anguish that plagued His mind. How did He handle it? Well, as was earlier said, He did not arrogantly stare it in the face and say, “It does not bother me. I am God.” He certainly was God, but it did bother Him—it nearly killed Him. Notice what Jesus did. First, Jesus sought to be alone with a few friends. This is pretty typical of someone under stress. He did not want to be in a large crowd. Second, Jesus spoke about His grief. He was compelled to communicate it to His dearest friends. His heart was pouring out. Third, Jesus sorrowed nearly to death, and would have died had not an angel sustained Him. He was truly stressed. Fourth, Jesus fell on His face to pray and sought to excite His Heavenly Father‟s sympathy with a pitiful cry, “Abba.” Fifth, Jesus had to admit His human will was contrary to the divine cause. He simply said, “Let this cup pass from me,” and, “Not my will but thine be done.” Sixth, Jesus appears to have paced back and forth to check on the sympathy and prayers of His disciples. Sadly, they had fallen asleep, and in a distraught form of speech—so it seems—He asked, “Could not ye watch with me one hour?” Seventh, Jesus prayed repetitiously. This is a trait of someone who is at their wit‟s end. Jesus prayed three times for the cross to be bypassed. For our sakes, that prayer was never answered. You know what all this does for us? It does much, but in one way of thinking, it relieves us. We can monitor our response to stress and determine what is naturally human from what is sinful. God never tells us that once we become believers our humanity is destroyed and we become divine. No, He allows us to remain frail. It is our duty then to take our stress to God.

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This is the beauty of Christ in Gethsemane. In all that anguish and notable torment which affected both mind and body, the Lord Jesus prayed His way through it. God saw Him and with keen delight sent an angel to bring His Son through the torture. When our Calvary approaches us, let us take it to Gethsemane. If we do not get to God and obtain His ministering spirit, we are either going to fail miserably in attempting His will, or we will not survive the stress. This is an important lesson from Gethsemane.

My appreciation for Jesus Christ is magnified by observing Him in Gethsemane. His anguish in this garden shows that He truly dreaded the cross but was willing to still go through with it. He saw the cross and nails, the mockery and jeers, the pain and sorrow, the separation from His Father, the imputation of sin and the failure of many to believe. He saw and these things and yet determined to go through with it in the Garden. Some of my dearest friends have sacrificed much in order to be a blessing to me. Every time this happens it melts my heart. Often it becomes difficult to know what to say or how to respond. I am speechless. Can this sacrifice from my friends, however, be even remotely compared to Christ‟s sacrifice of Himself for me? I know it cannot be. None have ever nor could ever anticipate coming agony like our all-knowing Lord did, and if they did, they would not go through with it as He did. There are those in this world who have great hearts, and are willing to suffer much for others, but can there be any who would know such coming horror and still go through with it? Awe, what appreciation we must have for our Lord! No one else could or would do as He did! If He had turned His back on the idea of substitutionary atonement, then there would have been no other person either willing or able. This should only magnify our appreciation of Jesus Christ. Gethsemane is such holy ground. Let us remove our shoes from our feet. The tender Lord Jesus prayerfully writhed in mental anguish, emotional distress and physical fatigue to conquer His greatest temptation—to give up on us and escape the cross! With a love for His Father, He rose from prayer and went with His betrayer from the Garden to the hill of crucifixion. Blessed be the Lord Jesus Christ!