Friday, April 13, 2012

Afar Off–Part 2

Today's post is dedicated to an amazing lady, Cheryl Veader, who went home to be with our Lord.  She was wife mother, aunt, and about any other female familial relationship you can think of.  She was always there to encourage the Body of Christ.  All while going through years fighting cancer.  And always loving God.  Cheryl was loved and she'll be missed.

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“Sunrise in My Backyard”, lit by something beyond the horizon.  As I was looking at this picture by John Vincent, it struck me how much contrast plays in how we perceive things.  Whether you focus on the sunsrise or the murky fog, neither would have the same impact without the contrast between the two.  And so it was with the last main events of “holy week” before Jesus’ arrest.

If we look at Matthew 26, we get to what we call “The Last Supper”.  It was, in fact, the Passover supper.  Like so many other things Jesus did, He wasn’t negating Judaism in His life, but rather He was a willing participant.  But that’s a discussion for another time.  Here, in chapter 26, Jesus and the disciples celebrated seder together.  In the process, Jesus did the first communion ceremony.  And announced that there was a traitor among them.  After which, Judas left to betray our Lord.  Along with those, Peter did the old “I’ll follow you anywhere” routine.  At which point, Jesus told Peter that he’d deny Him before the cock crowed three times.

The thing I believe is most interesting about that supper is that there were two very obvious examples of situations where we'd be tempted to quit the plan and head for something easier.  Another time where Jesus' connection with the Father and their love for us preempts normal thinking.

From here, Jesus goes with the disciples to the garden at Gethsemane to pray.  We've read how well that went.  But let's take a look again.  There may be some things we ought to consider.  Because of the events that occurred before Judas brought the soldiers, I see this time as the beginning of Jesus being our substitute.

We read in Luke 22:44, "And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.".  That's a condition called hematidrosis, where a person sweats blood under great stress, such as facing their own death.  We know that the plan was in place before it was needed.  So, Jesus was aware of His own death for a very long time.  I don't believe that was what caused the bloody perspiration.  So, think with me, as we look at it.

This is only my consideration. There's no documentation in the Word.  But I believe it's supported by the circumstances.  First, Jesus was committed to going to the cross.  Second, sin will be a draw for demonic activity.  I've seen some explanations of Jesus' prayer to "remove this cup" was Him asking to be let out of the plan.  I don't see that as a proper understanding.  The massive fear that came upon Jesus was, I believe, all of the demons coming against Jesus because sin was already placed upon Him, drawing them like ants to honey.  But also, the demons were aware of the plan of salvation and that they'd be thrown into Hell because of Jesus fulfilling the plan.  This was their opportunity to bring such oppression to bear on Jesus that He'd quit.  In a sense, almost their last hope.

I see Jesus asking not to get out of the events to come, but rather that the oppression be taken away so there was nothing that could prevent His crucifixion.  And, while the demons threw their best stuff at Him, the stress was so great that Jesus' literally sweat blood.  Some scholars suggest that the wording indicated a large amount of blood.  And, if Jesus had been just a man, He might have died right there without fulfilling the plan.

If that scenario is correct, then I understand the disciples sleeping instead of praying.  I don't know about anyone else, but I know when I've been really down (not in a really long time) or sick, it's difficult to get up the energy to do things, but very easy to sleep.  The atmosphere at Gethsemane was so charged with oppression that I believe the disciples were overwhelmed into sleep.  Perhaps part of the onslaught on Jesus, to make Him feel He was alone.  I picture understanding as well as disappointment when He asked why they couldn't pray with Him.

That time in the garden is a good place to end this part of the series.  We can meditate on the contrast here between the spiritual darkness of the demonic attack and the light of Jesus' commitment to continuing in the plan.  And we can now remember that He's in us, so we can take advantage of that spiritual light and commitment, too.

We'll continue with the arrest, next time.  Till then, what has that spiritual light shown you?

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