Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Matthew, Chapter 26 part 2

I love the image of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. I think it is an image that projects Jesus in His truest form. To this point we have seen Him exhibit both knowledge and power that illustrate Him as the Son of God. Sometimes it is easy to forget Him as anything else. One of His most important aspects, and indeed the aspect that gave His sacrifice on the Cross value, is the fact htat He is fully human as well as fully God. There have been glimpses of this throughout the book of Matthew, but it truly comes out in the garden.

36Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." 37He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38Then he said to them, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me."

 39Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." – Matthew 26:36-39

Here is a man that was perfect in every sense of the word. Just a few verses later we see that He had the power to call down the armies of heaven. He literally had absolutely no reason to fear any man. Still, Jesus was afraid and crushed by His burdens in this moment. I cannot imagine being in His shoes, but in my humanity I can't think of how burdensome the weight of not only every sin committed in history to that point, but the weight of every sin that would be committed until the end of time would be. Personally, I am currently having a day like many days recently where I feel crushed by the weight of my own sins and mistakes over the course of my life. I can't imagine what dealing with this weight amplified trillions of times.

This passage also shows Jesus' love for humanity, as well as His humility. He recognized that even He needed help with this burden. He therefore first seeks the company of his companions in his disciples to pray with him. They fall short, but He also seeks strength from the Father just as we seek strength from the Father. This makes Jesus, on His human side, no different than us! In the end Jesus somehow finds this strength, and is ready once He is confronted by Judas.

69Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. "You also were with Jesus of Galilee," she said.

 70But he denied it before them all. "I don't know what you're talking about," he said.

 71Then he went out to the gateway, where another girl saw him and said to the people there, "This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth."

 72He denied it again, with an oath: "I don't know the man!"

 73After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, "Surely you are one of them, for your accent gives you away."

 74Then he began to call down curses on himself and he swore to them, "I don't know the man!"

   Immediately a rooster crowed. 75Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: "Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times." And he went outside and wept bitterly. – Matthew 26:69-75

This is another lesson on the dangers of relying on our own strength. A mere few hours had passed since Peter had boasted he would never fail Jesus. In this section he fails miserably because of his lack of faith and conviction. This is a man that would go on to become the cornerstone of Christ's church in the first century. If someone like Peter can fail miserably, what chance do we have? The long term lesson is seen in his life after this moment. He was able to recover and, through Christ, accomplish great things. I take encouragement from this because it shows that all things are indeed possible through Christ.

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