As we prepare our hearts for Easter during Holy Week, I really wanted to jump to the end and write about his glorious resurrection. That is, after all, our absolute proof that Jesus was who he claimed to be. And since you won’t be getting another meditation until the day after Easter, I didn’t want to miss my opportunity.
However, the Spirit challenged me to look at the implications of glossing over the pain of Jesus’ sacrifice. . .
Our Verse of the Week
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.” Matthew 26:39Matthew 26:39
For me, this single verse beautifully captures both the full humanity and full deity of Jesus. As a man, he was “grieved to the point of death” (v. 38) at the prospect of his upcoming crucifiction. He gives us an example in this prayer of supplication and obedience to God. We are to go to the Father with our concerns and fears; we are to ask for what our hearts desire. But we’re also to follow his will in obedience.
The fact that Jesus is this distraught just a few days after being welcomed into the city with shouts of “Hosanna!” and just after sharing a significant meal with his closest friends, indicates that he knows exactly what is happening, the timeline, and his purpose. From a worldly, human point-of-view, things are looking up (assuming Jesus wouldn’t know of Judas’ betrayal if he wasn’t divine). It’s probably why Peter, James and John were complacent and fell asleep: they didn’t know what was coming. But with perfect eyes, Jesus sees what is coming the next day.
Wouldn’t it have been nice if Jesus had died an old man with years and years of teaching behind him? Wouldn’t it have been nice if he had amassed thousands of followers that glorified him on earth and cared for his needs like he deserved? He could have even died in his sleep, and risen in three days. But would a life like that have carried the magnitude of who he was? Would we, two thousand years later, accept a life lived for us as an atonement for our sins?
I don’t think so. A full life would not have been a sufficient sacrifice to sustain our short attention spans. God knows our hearts too well. Violence is there. Guilt is there. A need for atonement is there. We are the ones who cry out for justice, balance, and blood against sin.
I know that when I sin, I want to wallow in guilt in order to punish myself so that I can achieve some internal balance–it’s part of our human sin-nature. The story of an old man, living a peaceful life, with a tender message of “you are forgiven” would not be enough to balance the violence in my heart. God, and therefore Jesus, knew that only blood can satisfy that.
The story of a young man, in tears before the Lord, dreading torture, violence, separation from God, and death, and yet submitting to it in order to prove his sacrificial love for me … to show me that he has done a thing worthy of taking on the magnitude of my sins, and in the end, conquering them. That’s a story that shouts across all time and humanity, and one in which I can believe.
Below is a look at my dialogue with the Holy Spirit while meditating on this passage. I meditate on the same verse every day for at least a week, and this is just a model to get you started. Meditating on scripture is a very personal journey and relationship with God, but you may find my Meditation Guide helpful. Subscribe now to my Newsletter and get immediate access to a Free Printable Library that includes meditation guidelines, a Meditation Journal Page, Scripture Writing pages, and bookmarks for this verse.
Going a little farther: Jesus, I see you stumbling away from your friends. I see the loneliness in what you’re facing. Forgive us for not being with you. Forgive us for not fully understanding, even now. Thank you for being lonely at times, for I know you understand my loneliness. I close my eyes and visualize Jesus taking these steps away from companionship toward isolation.
he fell facedown and prayed: Jesus, I see your desperation. I see the magnitude of what is before you. Father, I ask that you keep this soft in my heart. Let me stay sensitive to the full weight of Christ’s sacrifice.
“My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me.: Jesus, thank you for your transparent humanity. Thank you for letting me see your fear and dread. I won’t ever face what you did, but it’s comforting to know that you weren’t always happy. That you faced the hardest thing and dreaded it.
Yet not as I will, but as you will.” : Jesus, thank you for your obedience in spite of your dread. Thank you for sacrificing yourself the way you did. And Father, thank you for an example of unanswered prayers, and the beauty of your will over ours. Spirit, I ask for strength to follow Jesus’ example of sacrifice and obedience to God.
Suggested Breath Prayers
For more info on Breath Prayers, visit the article You’re Just a Breath Away From God.
He fell facedown and prayed
Not as I will, but as you will
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