Maundy Thursday 2017

 

By Pastor Michael Cofer
Maundy Thursday 2017

Here in the garden we are given a glimpse into the full scope of what happened on the cross. Once Jesus is arrested and taken off to be crucified, He is already confirmed in what must be done.  On Good Friday we see no hesitation, no flinching, no fear or doubt. And that is precisely why this time of prayer in Gethsemane is so important for us.

Jesus stood fearlessly in the prow of a boat and rebuked a storm that threatened to capsize them.  He faced off against demons and banished them with a word.  He never looks nervous or apprehensive or afraid.  Except in this moment.

It can be tempting to think that because Jesus knew he had come to die on the cross for us that that somehow made it easy for Him.  Or we might think that because He is the Son of God, that he was at peace with how it had to happen.

But listening to Jesus pray in the garden, it is clear that he was not at peace.  He was troubled down to the bone.  He was so distraught that His sweat rolled down like drops of blood.  And He prayed, “take this cup from me.”

On the one hand, we are hearing his true humanity speak.  The crucifixion is incredible suffering and excruciating death and no one should ever experience.  But I don’t think that that is enough to make Jesus want to turn back.  No, there’s far more going on in the Spiritual realm than in the physical.

God’s Word tells us that Jesus had to become sin for us.  I’m not sure I can fully understand that, but when I imagine how much guilt and shame can weigh me down… and then I try to imagine what it would be like to shoulder that much weight from every person who ever had or ever would live… it’s absolutely crushing.

And when I think about the closeness and love that Jesus and the Father share at all times, and then I imagine what it must have been like to be suddenly and utterly cut off from it.   I can’t fathom the loneliness and rejection that He would endure.  Not just to be abandoned by his disciples – but to be forsaken by the one person with whom he had been in constant communion from before the creation of the world!

I don’t think it’s theater or farce when He asks the Father to take this cup from Him.  In fact, I think it’s wholly necessary that He should feel this way – because to be the Christ He must obey His Father’s will above all.

The whole plan of salvation is Christ setting right what Adam had broken.  Through Adam’s sin famine, disease, and death spread throughout all of God’s good creation.  Through Jesus ministry the hungry were fed, the diseased were healed, and even the dead were raised.

In the Garden of Eden, Adam took the fruit and ate, craving the glory of godhood for himself.  And when he did so, it was as if he said to God, “My will, not thine be done.”  But in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus takes the cup that his Father has chosen for him – forsaking the glory of godhood that He rightfully owned.  And in so doing, He can say, “Not my will, but Thine be done.”

That’s how we know it’s love.  There is no other reason that Jesus would go through with it – but He loves the Father and the Father loves us.  This is a love the likes of which the world has never seen, and will never understand.  And that’s what we see as we follow Jesus to the cross… not tragedy or travesty or injustice.  We see the Love of Christ on full display.

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