Friday, March 22, 2024

When the World Closes In

After saying these things, Jesus crossed the Kidron Valley with his disciples and entered a grove of olive trees. (John 18:1 NLT)

Jesus knew the crucifixion was coming. In fact, He began to aggressively address it at a place called Caesarea Philippi.

Matthew’s Gospel tells us, “From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, and that he would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but on the third day he would be raised from the dead” (16:21 NLT).

Jesus knew exactly what was about to happen. He had to come and taste death for everyone. As commentator Alfred Edersheim wrote, “He disarmed Death by burying his shaft in His own Heart.”

John 18 gives us a rare, behind-the-scenes look at the personal struggle of Jesus as He contemplated the cup that He had to drink. The Bible tells us that Christ was “a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief” (Isaiah 53:3 NLT). But the sorrow He experienced in Gethsemane on the night before His crucifixion seemed to be the culmination of all the sorrow He’d ever known, which would accelerate to a climax the following day.

I don’t think we can begin to grasp the anguish that Jesus experienced at that moment. Being God, He knew everything. And He was fully aware of what lay ahead. Someone has pointed out that ignorance is bliss, and in some ways, that is true. But there was no ignorance with Jesus. He was omniscient.

And He knew that in just a few hours, Roman soldiers would whip Him and nail Him to a cross. He knew that His disciple Judas Iscariot would betray Him and that another disciple, Simon Peter, would deny Him. And He knew that He would bear all the sins of the world.

Next to the cross, His time in Gethsemane was the loneliest moment of His life. In our moments of loneliness when it seems as though our friends or family have let us down—or when it even seems as though God has let us down—we must remember one thing: Jesus has been there. And He has been there for you.

Hebrews 4:15 says of Jesus, “This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin” (NLT).

We are all going to face our Gethsemanes in life, those times when things just aren’t making sense, when our problems seem too much to bear.

Jesus gives us an example of what we ought to do when we face our personal Gethsemanes, those moments of ultimate stress in which the cup that we are to drink seems to be too much to bear, when we seemingly can’t go on another day. He prayed.

During those dark nights of the soul when our friends have abandoned us and our family has let us down, when we are lonely, when it seems as though the whole world is closing in on us—that is the time to pray.

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