Thursday, April 17, 2014

Some Before Easter Thoughts

Today, I landed on a word I don't typically contemplate.


It all started when I came across this tweet from Desiring God.

Today is Maundy Thursday. When Jesus prayed the world’s greatest prayer.

That's a big claim, and I had to check it out. You can read the article for yourself here.

In the article, the emphasis is not on the Last Supper, which is what is typically talked about on the Thursday before Easter. It's on Jesus' prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Here's what Hebrews 5:7 said about that prayer:

 Hebrews 5:7 says, “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.”

The first thing that hit me about this passage was why Jesus was heard. It was because of his reverence. If you look up reverence, you'll find words similar to:

 a feeling or attitude of deep respect tinged with awe.

That was my first check of the day. 
When I pray, how do I approach my creator God? 

It was my first check, but it hasn't been my last. Even as big as that question is, it took a back seat when I read the rest of the article. In it was this paragraph:

Nothing in Jesus’s experience comes closer to this description than the prayers of Gethsemane. “Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears,” corresponds emotionally to Luke 22:44, “Being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” “Loud cries and tears” is a description of the “agony” of Jesus.

When Jesus was in the Garden, he was in agony. 


There was no physical pain yet, and the Bible says he was in agony. I saw this picture on A Holy Experience. Out of all the ones I saw when I googled "Jesus praying in Gethsemane," this one spoke to me.

So all day, off and on, at random times, I would think of Jesus in the Garden in agony. What does that mean? What exactly was he agonizing over?

The article describes aspects of it, and I encourage you to read the article for yourself to go deeper. 

But I thought I caught a glimpse of at least one possible aspect of his agony when I was taking a few minutes today to read the book my Luke gave me for Christmas. In Malcolm Gladwell's David and Goliath on page 148, Gladwell quotes J. T. MacCurdy, who said, "We are all of us not merely liable to fear, we are also prone to be afraid of being afraid."

When I read that, I thought maybe Jesus was a little like me. Did I really just type that? Jesus like me? Only in the sense that he was somehow fully human and I'm definitely only fully human. In my humanness, I have a time with the "before" to something that is predicted to be sad or hard. Can I do it? Will I do it, or will I chicken out if an "out" presents itself?

It hit me when I read the above quote, that Gesthsemane was the pinnacle of a complete week of  "before" for Jesus. He knew Friday was coming. A day that would be sadder and harder than any day before or since. I believe he was just as human as you and me (although I don't understand that fully) and that part of his agony was:

Can I do it?
Will I do it, or will I chicken out?

The "before" something has its own set of issues that God has to help us with. He helped Jesus in the Garden.

Please know I don't pretend to have this completely figured out. I don't even have it completely thought out. I just wanted to share what God and I have been bouncing around in my soul today.

Today. Tonight. When a little over 2000 years ago, he was in agony. 


Because he loved you and me.

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