Yesterday was a historic day. I know that this presidential election has been especially tumultuous, and that there are many people who are still not at peace. This being said, there is a way that brings peace and that will help us to treat each other with love and respect.
When individual people, of their own free will, find salvation at the foot of the cross and partake of Jesus’ spirit of self-sacrificing love and humility, they become progressively less contentious, and more loving and respectful toward others.
I have personally found that, more than shared family ties, more than finding other people of my own race, more than finding people who share my culture, when I find people who are in love with Jesus Christ I am drawn to them.
It is beautiful how people who are mutually in love with Jesus Christ, of their own free will, are kinder, more loving people who are always striving to get along with each other. I long to become closer to Jesus, and to help others to understand how wonderful He is.
Today, I will begin talking about the crucifixion story. I realized today that I will need roughly four blog-posts to really share this story. This blog-post focuses on Jesus’ experience in Gethsemane. The next of these blog-posts will focus on His disciples’ experience in Gethsemane. The third of these blog-posts will focus on Jesus’ trials before His crucifixion and the last of these blog-post will focus on the actual crucifixion story. There will be more to come in this series after I finish talking about the crucifixion story.
The story of Jesus in Gethsemane is a powerful, heart touching, life-changing story for those who understand its meaning.
“Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.
And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.
Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.
And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying,O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” Matthew 26:36-39 (KJV)
What “cup” was Jesus asking to not have to drink, if possible? He was asking if it would be possible for Him to forgo figuratively drinking the cup of the feeling of eternal separation from God the Father. You see, Jesus was taking upon Himself all of the sins of humanity.
“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:5-6 (KJV)
The struggle in Gethsemane was very intense.
“And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down*, and prayed,
Saying,Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.
And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.
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.” Luke 22:41-44 (KJV)
Jesus was struggling intensely-so much so that He sweated blood, but He chose us. He chose to, on behalf of every single human being, endure that cruel, awful and wicked feeling that every person who clings to sin will eventually have to feel: that terrible feeling of being completely lost and separated from God. He did that for you and me so that we will not have to experience this if we will only truly accept Him as our personal Savior. He bore the penalty that we deserve, so that we would be able to have the gift of freedom from sin and eternal life-which we don’t deserve.
Jesus made up His mind to go forward and to die on the cross in order to pay the penalty for the sins of the world. Gethsemane is pivotal for us. Gethsemane is where Jesus totally made up His mind to save us. Gethsemane is where Jesus resisted the discouragements of Satan and refused to allow His intense sadness and fear to rule Him.
In Gethsemane, Jesus received strength from above to go forward and fulfill His mission of saving us from sin (Matthew 1:21). He showed us that He loves us with an incredible, vast, selfless and self-sacrificing love.
I have heard of at least one story of a dog who give up its life for its owner. It is touching that some of these animals love us so much that they will do this for us at times.
We are far more touched, and rightfully so, when we hear of human beings who selflessly give up their lives in order to protect others. These are the kinds of people who will allow others to be saved from drowning before themselves. These are the kinds of people who will share their meager food with others during times of widespread starvation.
These are the kinds of people who, when asked to give up their love for God or be put to death, say that they will allow themselves to be put to death rather than give up their love for God. They have found something so precious in God and they love Him so much that they don’t want to live life apart from Him.
There aren’t too many of these kinds of people in the world, but these kinds of people do exist, and I want to be one of them. My prayer is that God would remove every bit of selfishness from my heart and make me a person who loves self sacrificially. I see that selfishness and a lack of self-sacrificing love is at the root of most of my problems. I am so grateful that Jesus will give me a loving, self sacrificing spirit and that He will help me to live to bless others.
“And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:
And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” 1 John 5:14-15 (KJV)
I know that it is God’s will to make me loving and self-sacrificing like He is, and so I know that He is hearing my prayers and that He is helping me. If you ask Him for help to become more loving and self-sacrificing, God will hear your prayers too.
As we will see next week, Jesus’ experience in Gethsemane prepared Him to go through a cruel and unjust trial with a noble, selfless dignity. It also prepared Him to still be thinking of and blessing others while He was hanging on the cross, dying for the sins of humanity…sins which He didn’t commit.
My prayer is that all of us will surrender completely to God as Jesus did in Gethsemane. When we surrender all to Him, we will be enabled to grow in our relationships with God. We will be enabled to be peaceful and dignified while being treated unjustly and we will be enabled to love others to the full extent. We will be enabled to go through any trial and we will be enabled to pass any test that life may bring us. Oh to be like Jesus!
Note: Regarding loving other people more than we love ourselves; I’m convinced that during hard times, this is a choice we have to make while asking God for the strength we need. Also, love isn’t all affection. If you are in an abusive situation, please do the loving thing, which is to reach out for help. Here is a resource for people in abusive situations and also for abusive people who want to change. https://www.thehotline.org/ (this paragraph was copied and pasted from one of my YouTube videos)