27 September 2015

The Humanity of Christ Shows Through


A Lord's Supper devotional I gave a while back...

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This past week in my Bible reading, I was going through the chapters dealing with the arrest and trial of Yeshua, and in reading through with the chronological reading plan, it of course lumps all of the same gospel stories of this together. So basically I am reading the same story multiple times. In doing so, I was really struck by the humanity of Christ.
 Then he said to them, "My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me." (Matthew 26:38)
The word in the original is much stronger than the one translated “sorrowful.” It means to be pressed down or overwhelmed with great anguish. Some translate it as him saying “my soul is so dissolved in sorrow, my spirit is filled with such agony and anguish, that, if speedy assistance is not given to my body, death must be the speedy consequence.”

I do not know about any of you, but I cannot say I have ever experienced such a feeling. We know it was serious because the story in Luke reveals that it took an angel to come and strengthen him from this state.

So, he goes away and begins to pray:
And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will." (Matthew 26:39)
Now maybe in the moment, I was taking it too emotionally literal, but when I read this I envisioned in my mind this heavily sorrowful man walking a stone’s throw away, as Luke states it, then basically just collapsing in anguish and praying to not have to go through what he knew was coming.

We know that he clearly knew there was no escaping this coming suffering he was to take on, as He himself pointed it out in John 12:27:
Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. (John 12:27)
So even though he said he knew that this is his whole purpose for coming, and also states how he recognized that asking for this situation to pass was pretty much nonsensical, and yet when the hour was so close, he did just that – asked for it to pass.

Reading this at the time spoke to me of just how sorrowful and burdened he was in a human sense as the hour approached. And even after the angel came and strengthened him, we are still told that:
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)
And according to the Matthew version, he did not just ask once for it to pass, for after praying, he returned to his disciples to find them asleep, and he went to pray some more and we are told:
Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, "My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done." And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. (Matthew 26:42-44)
Though this comes across as him sounding less burdened the second and third time, it still has a sense of wishing it would be possible to find a way to escape from it. Regarding this desire that there would be another way, commentator Albert Barnes sums this way:
That is, if the world can be redeemed - if it be consistent with justice, and with maintaining the government of the universe, that people should be saved without this extremity of sorrow, let it be done. There is no doubt that if it had been possible it would have been done; and the fact that these sufferings were “not” removed, and that the Savior went forward and bore them without mitigation, shows that it was not consistent with the justice of God and with the welfare of the universe that people should be saved without the awful sufferings of “such an atonement.”
These words that Christ uttered in the final hour clearly show us his humanity – for only his humanity could suffer what was about to happen. And while he was wishing there was another way, he was not fighting God in this matter, he was simply crying out in anguish and acknowledging that the will of the Father is more important than his own will. A sentiment that we would do well to have in our lives too – that we may live unto the Father’s will and not just seek our selfish ways constantly.

And that is what we come to the table of the Lord for weekly to remember – that sacrifice that was paid by Yeshua whose human body was suffered greatly, and his blood spilled in accordance with the Father’s will so that we may be brought into a relationship with them for all eternity.