Today we celebrate a young man who felt more fear, and suffered more greatly than any man has done before or since. Through the most courageous act in the history of the world he showed us the full measure of love, all because he’d rather die than live without us.
“And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, saying, ‘Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.’ Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground.” -Luke 22:41-44 NASB
In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus of Nazareth, being fully man despite his divinity, experienced hematidrosis, which is a medical condition resulting in sweating blood. Do you know what causes hematidrosis? Extreme psychological and physical stress. Jesus was under this extreme stress because he knew generally what was coming in his next 24 hours, yet still was tortured by the very human phenomenon of hope that perhaps he, like Isaac, would be spared against all odds.
Today is a day to put the sacrifice of Jesus Christ in perspective. Jesus would bear the sins of the whole world. In bearing the sins of the whole world at once, he would be banished from the presence of God the Father for that time. In essence, Christ knew in the garden that he’d be tortured, murdered, and simultaneously have his own father turn his back on him.
It’s not controversial among Christians to say that Jesus Christ was the ultimate man, but let’s look deeper. Jesus living without sin bore every temptation to its fullest amount: temptation to lust, to lie, to steal, to murder and resisted them all. He understands temptation better than any of us because he’s felt its full measure in a way we will not, because we so frequently yield to it before it reaches its zenith.
Likewise, Jesus would suffer more than any human would ever suffer, and knew it. Therefore I believe he felt more fear than any other human has ever experienced. Do you know what this means regarding his actions at the garden and beyond? In being more afraid than anyone has likely ever been, of greater suffering than anyone has ever experienced, yet proceeding with his mission anyway, a young man named Jesus demonstrated more courage than this world has ever seen, or will see again.
He did it for you. You, right there, the one reading this right now. He did it because he’d rather die than live without you. I believe he’d have done it only to save you and you alone, by suffering the sentence for your sins so that you wouldn’t have to.
In experiencing temptation, fear, hope, pain, suffering, death, courage, and love as a man, and mastering them to their fullest measures, Jesus proved the ultimate man, and knows your struggles better than anyone else could. Jesus understands your fear. Jesus understands your suffering. Jesus can help you find your courage. Jesus can help you love more perfectly. He wants to help you bear your burdens, if you’ll trust him. I have, and everything good in me is because of him.
A good and terrible Friday indeed. Thank you Jesus, from the bottom of my heart.