Jesus went to the Mount of Olives the night of his crucifixion to pray. The scripture records Him as pray; "Father if it is possible, let this cup of suffering pass from me. Nevertheless, not my will but yours be done". But it also records Him tell the disciples to pray so that they did not fall into temptation. I wonder what that was all about?
The Mount of Olives is an odd scene. Jesus knowing he is soon to die, the disciples sleeping just like I would have. Jesus telling them to pray to avoid falling into temptation......what is the meaning of all this?
Dr. Crabb says its a place a hope. Really? I mean, in hindsight we recognize it as the beginning of the Calvary experience that ultimately paid the price for my sin and yours....but in the moment, a time and place of hope?
Think about this for a moment. Jesus has been telling his disciples he is the Son of Man now for a while. I suspect they all desperately hoped He was the Messiah. The Anointed One. The Promise the heroes of faith all died still hoping for. The miracles, the teaching, the love and joy they felt in His presence, all must have pointed to Jesus as the one. These men KNEW the scriptures of the coming Promise. The one that would save His people from their sin. They knew He was the One. They had to, otherwise they would not have stuck around as long as they did.
Now, here He was, in trouble, having stirred up the religious leaders against him. He is going to pray as was His custom. The disciples knew something was up. Just before the prayer time, Jesus asked them if they had a sword and if not, to sell something to buy one. But they had two, so He said, that's enough. I have no idea of the significance of this little exchange, but it was very unusual to say the least and I think it prompted in them some sense of impending change.
These guys had HOPE. John the Baptist, just before losing his head to Herod, had asked his followers to ask Jesus if He was the one Promised. John hoped but in his time of persecution, had an inkling of doubt. He needed reassurance. I am sure Jesus' followers had hope.
Which begs the question, what temptation was Jesus warning His followers about. I mean, there is no mention of Him telling them anything like this in the past. This was special.
I think Jesus knew they would be tempted to lose hope during His arrest, trial and crucifixion. That in reality, the Promise was only three days away....but in the meantime, it would look like all hope was lost. He did not want them to walk only by what they were going to see and hear in the next few days. Instead, He wanted them to walk according to what they had heard and seen in the last three years......and to hold on to hope.
Their hope was that Jesus would defy the Roman armies, secure the Jews in their homeland and set them free to worship Jehovah once and for all time. They still did not recognize the Promise was to save the people from their sin, even though the prophets had spoken it hundreds of years prior. It took the destruction of the earthly dream..the slaying of Jesus like a common criminal to remove the last hope of an earthly Jewish kingdom from their hearts.
They had a clue when Jesus said to Pilate, "If my kingdom were of this world, my followers would have taken up swords to defend me". And they did, but were rebuked by Jesus....He even healed the damage done by the single blow struck by one of the followers. But alas, the clue was missed.
So for three days, I suspect they wallowed in grief and self doubt. They wondered if they had put their hope and trust in the wrong man. They wondered if just maybe, they had missed something and some miracle would take place and they would be vindicated.....but mostly, had I been there, I would have been pretty cynical.....see I told you so...He is not the one...how could He be....He's dead.......
The scripture records that upon His death, the ground opened up and faithful men and women from centuries past rose and walked around the city. That the veil in the temple that separated God from man was torn in two. This is no big feat until you understand this veil was probably around 20-30 feet tall, 50-100 feet wide and some accounts say it was woven from so many layers of cloth that it was somewhere around 1-2 fee thick. Now rip that in two from top to bottom.....now its impressive.....all these things happened and I am sure Jesus' followers either saw it first hand or heard it very quickly from others that had. Surely this meant something important.
For three days, hope was dead. From my perspective, it was time to go back to the fishing boats, the carpenters shed, the tax collector booth, back to "real" life. And hope the authorities did not figure out I had been with Jesus.
But Jesus had said, "pray that you don't fall into temptation". Maybe they did. Maybe they maintained hope. Just maybe, they knew something was up. Maybe they kept the hope alive. I think so. They were still around when Jesus showed up all of a sudden. Instantly, the realization hits....."Oh, thats what He meant when He said His kingdom was not of this world". Upon the appearance of Jesus that night, I am sure many things He had told them and the prophecies they had memorized as children all clicked into place.
Now comes joy! He is the Messiah....buts it not how we thought it would happen....its better.....my sins are forgiven. I am free....no matter what happens to this body, I am free. My life here on earth is just a prelude to what is to come. I no longer fear death. I no longer fear the suffering this present world can inflict on my soul and body....because Jesus, the Messiah, has over come all these things and I am entitled to the same because of His great love for me......O Happy Day.......
This changes things. The days when He seems distant, I can maintain hope. When the things I want so desperately are withheld, I can still hope....but not just in this life only, but in perfection and fellowship with Jesus forever.
Now my hope is two fold....to please Him and to be part of His plan....however that plays out. I surrender my agenda and what I thought His plan was. Instead, I wait for Him to reveal His plan.....in His time.
My prayer today:. Papa, I only want to please you, to hear you say you are pleased. To feel the warmth of your pleasure in me. I surrender my agenda to you. I recognize how easily my flesh usurps this vow. How so very easy it is for me to forget that you are in control and to take control for myself. Papa, help me with this. Help me to remember you, to remember you are in control. That what I have now, is your best for me.....that where I find myself is exactly where I am supposed to be....and to be at peace there. Papa, I need rest. From my labor, from my worry and doubt. You said to cast all my care on you and that you would care for me.....so all my labor, all my worry, all my doubt and fear, I cast them on you.....I lay my burden down at the foot of the cross where the blood that still flows from Immanuel s veins can cover them for all eternity....Thank you Papa for the grace to trust, the grace to surrender and the grace to follow....
The song is almost 9 minutes long but oh so worth it!