Monday, March 28, 2016

Salvation From Eternity Past, Determined in Unity -- Part 1

Jesus praying in the garden of Gethsemane -- photo used under Public Domain license.
The image is of a painting at the Darlington, MD Methodist Church, also under Public Domain license
There was an online discussion, based on a devotional that suggested Jesus was sweating blood because of the intensity of His prayer and asking to get out of going to the Cross.  He highlighted the struggle Jesus was experiencing, which I had no problem with.  But I suggested there was an alternative interpretation of the struggle that I believed was correct.  I still believe his interpretation, to my way of thinking, misrepresents Jesus' character and nature.  I could be wrong in my understanding.  But, it fits in with the Easter season.  Enough to make me want to document how I came to my conclusion.  And to open it up for further discussion.

John 17:4  I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.

That verse follows several chapters of teaching the disciples and then praying.  And, yes, this is in the garden at Gethsemane.  Look at the beginning of John 16.

John 16:1  "These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. 

After that, Jesus gives them an idea of the turmoil they'll experience.  Before they can panic, He teaches them about the Holy Spirit coming to assist, support, and love them through it all.  What He's guiding them toward in John 13 and John 15.  They're to love each other.

John 13:34-35  A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

John 15:12-17  This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you....  These things I command you, that ye love one another.

We see a relationship in those passages.  Christ desires the unity of love between the disciples. We know the disciples, to this very day, have layers of imperfection.  While the unity developed in love brings them closer to being "perfect", on earth they still must lack the perfection of God because only He is truly perfect till we are fully one with Him in heaven.  Look what Jesus says later, as He continues to pray at Gethsemane!

John 17:20-22  "I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.  And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one:

Think about that!  Jesus isn't praying to get out of going to the Cross!  He's already looking at the needs of future disciples who couldn't be disciples without the Cross!  Looking at the unity of love because of the Cross!

Take a look at verse 22!  "And the glory which You gave Me I have given them...."  That's an interesting statement that deserves a further look.  But it digresses from today's thoughts.  So, we'll hold that till next Monday.  But note that John 17:20-22 is clear our unity, any part of it we can muster despite our flesh, is all part of the gift given by Christ, from the Father.  And it's a unity Jesus wants to match the unity between Him and the Father, reiterating John 10:30, "I and my Father are one."  That's a unity that goes beyond just the physical oneness of the Trinity existing as one being.

The epistles add another dimension.  Take a look:

Ephesians 1:3-4  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,

1 Peter 1:20  He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,

Paul tells the Ephesians that "He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world...."  Peter expands on that thought by saying that the plan of salvation, in all its details, was in place before anything was created to cause a need for it.  It was created and agreed to by all members of the Trinity.  Since they're one being, there was no surprise when it happened, nor could there be disagreement by the very nature of who God is.  Unity and agreement are fundamental to the character and nature of God.

There's enough more to this topic that we're going to do something very different, this week and continue our discussion with a second post tomorrow.  It's that important.

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