Grieving Our Losses Day 19 – A Grieving Savior
“Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and He said to His disciples, ‘Sit here, while I go over there and pray.’ And taking with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, He began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then He said to them, ‘My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with Me.’ And going a little farther He fell on His face and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.’” (Matthew 26: 36-39, ESV)
If you were given the option of knowing the exact day you would die and how it would happen, would you want to know? I can see the benefit of living all your days knowing how long you had left. The saying goes, “Live every day as if it were your last.” You would know whether or not it was! But ultimately, I don’t think I would want to know. Every day, I would think about it; it would consume me. That’s not an enjoyable way to live, but it’s how Jesus lived; that’s clear when you read the Gospels. He knew when He would die, where He would die, how He would die, and who would be involved. He told His disciples many times: He said it would be at the hands of the religious leaders, it would be in Jerusalem (and He knew the precise visit when it would happen), and that He would be crucified. Since He is God in the flesh, He knew all these things—even the heart of Judas Iscariot before he betrayed Him. Maybe that’s why, after a joyful meal shared with His followers, a time when spirits would typically be high, Jesus was filled with grief. The moment He had long been telling His disciples about had finally arrived. Why was He grieving? Why was He so filled with sorrow that He felt near the point of death? There are several reasons.
First, I think He grieved the forthcoming betrayal by Judas and the departure of His disciples. His companion whom He would still call His friend was in the process of selling Him out. The rest would flee in fear, leaving Him alone with His captors. He had communed closely with these men and had been surrounded by great adoring crowds. But very soon He would be alone. For the moment, He had them, and He sought the companionship of Peter, James, and John while He contemplated the horrors ahead. But even then, they slept as He sorrowed.
I believe He also would have grieved, knowing the physical ordeal He was about to experience. With cruelty, men He had created and loved would do their absolute worst to Him. We don’t know what physical pain He dealt with in the 30-something years prior to this, but nothing would compare to what was ahead. We read in the prophecies in the Old Testament (which He, through the Holy Spirit, inspired men to write) what the depth of His suffering would be. He knew about the scourging. He knew men would pull the beard from His face. He knew He would be spit on. And He knew He would be nailed to a cross. As awful as all of this is, imagine counting down the seconds in your head until it arrived—brutal!
But mostly, I believe His sorrow was linked with “the cup” He references in His prayer. Shortly after He left Gethsemane, He spoke in a way that made men fall to the ground. But here, He falls on His face. He had inspired David to write Psalm 22, and He was mere hours away from living through the worst hours of His life, and of His eternal existence. He was hours away from reciting, “My God, My God; why have You forsaken Me?” This was the great dread. To do what He was sent to do—to save His people from their sins—He had to pay the price for sins. He must die and be separated from God.
If you are a Christian, even in your darkest hour when you feel nobody is there with you, God is always there. He will never forsake us—but He forsook Jesus. As He prayed in that dark garden, I believe Jesus was thinking about something we as Christians will never experience. He was going to be without God. He was eternally One with God—how could this happen? I have no clue. I can only point us to this passage and note how horrific it was for Jesus. Just thinking about it drove Him to this point. So, what was it like to actually experience it? Again, I have no clue. But as He was viciously scourged, He said nothing. As He was fastened to a wooden cross with nails through His hands and feet, He cried out only in forgiveness to those who did it. But here? In these hours of abandonment? Now, He cries out in agony.
No wonder He was so filled with grief and sorrow. He was facing three of the greatest fears a human can face: abandonment, rejection, loneliness. But just as we noted yesterday, He had a choice. And His choice was to face it—all of it.