MAKING THE PASSION PERSONAL
A Journey with Jesus to the Cross and Beyond
In Struggle we See Him
Organized religion has domesticated the crucified Lord of glory, turned him into a tame theological symbol. Theological symbols do not sweat blood in the night.
Take some time to become still in God’s presence. Slow your breathing through the following exercise:
Inhale: Breathe in the peace of Christ.
Exhale: Breathe out anxiety of the day.
Inhale: Breathe in the gentleness of Christ.
Exhale: Breathe out mental clutter and distraction.
Inhale: Breathe in freedom in Christ
Exhale: Breathe out that which binds you
Inhale: Breathe in the joy of Christ
Exhale: Breathe out discouragement
Inhale: Breathe in the love of Christ
Exhale: Breathe out selfishness, and personal agendas.
Continue doing this until you feel ready to meet God according to His plan. Offer yourself to Him for His purposes during your time of contemplation at the Cross today.
And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.
Jesus moves beyond his disciples, falling to the ground a few feet away. Pressing his face into the soil he once breathed into being, his body shakes in violent struggle. From the pit of his soul a child cries: “Abba–Daddy.” He writhes, groans and pleads for another way.
My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me. A heartwrenching plea. Is this the Son of God? Weak? Frail? Fighting to hold on? Surely the Father longs to rescue him from this terrible plight. Can’t the whole thing end right here? Perhaps, except for the words he summons the strength to add:“Nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”
Throughout his life on earth, this is how it has been. Whether in the clamor and chaos of relentless crowds or the silence of solitary nights, Jesus has pursued the Father’s will, for the Godhead celebrates a love affair unimaginable to human minds. Yes, for God so loved the world . . . but the Son so loves his Father that he fights the darkness with desire to obey.
The flesh-and-blood battle is real. It saps Jesus of strength, and twice he walks away from it, perhaps to catch his breath, or renew his determination. Each time he returns, it is the same. Needy, frightened, childlike, he seeks another solution for sin-sick humanity.
The Father holds out His hand, but it clutches a bitter cup. Jesus glances into its depths. The contents would be vile, filthy, nauseating, even to those who have experienced sin
personally. But to the Christ, whose heart is undefiled, the stench of it rises up, its dark substance looming like an oozing sore.
His shaking intensifies. Perhaps he envisions himself taking the cup, drinking its bitter dregs until the poison of sin infects his whole body. His insides heave, catching in his throat.
A faint light to his side distracts him momentarily. Turning, he sees an angel. Is it Gabriel who announced his coming birth to a teenage girl just a few decades ago? The archangel Michael, sword drawn, ready for battle? Or is it an unknown seraph, sent to soothe his brow and comfort his suffering soul?
Somehow Jesus finds strength in the presence of this celestial being and prays once again: My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done. With these words the full agony of it all sweeps through the Garden like a tornado, churning the body, soul and spirit of the Son of God until he almost passes out. Bloody sweat from bursting capillaries pours from his face, large drops staining the ground.
All the forces of Heaven and Hell await the outcome of Christ’s struggle in this place. Demons laugh at his weakness, angels weep at what he has become. The Father stands back, unwilling to intervene. Jesus faces poverty of soul…and eternity hangs in the balance.
Contemplate the faces of Jesus we see in this experience:
A child: scared, crying out in baby talk — Daddy, abba . . .
A fully human man: feeling the terror of the future, pleading for another way.
An obedient Son: drawing from deep within to say Your will be done Father.
A fountainhead of love: looking into his Father’s eyes, and finding the energy to obey.
Try for a moment to imagine the cup the Father holds out. Look into it. What do you see? Observe your own sinful attitudes and actions swirling within. Think about the apathy and rebellion of the entire human race, of every generation represented in that cup. See the kinds of sinfulness you encounter daily in your world — the violence, hatred, immorality, and greed.
Then, consider the heart of Jesus as the Father held out the cup to Him. What must He have felt? Why? What was His greatest source of struggle? What would your life hold today had Jesus dashed the cup to the ground, refusing to drink its bitter dregs? Don’t rush with this question. Evaluate it deeply, pondering days and nights of an existence without redemption.
Write a prayer of thanksgiving in your journal. Thank Him that He loves you, and that He loved the Father enough to obey. Rest in the Presence of this love.
Dearest Savior, I find myself wanting to run from your struggle. I’d rather see you fighting battles on my behalf, waging war against demonic armies. Maybe I’m afraid of what I’ll see if I look too close at the cup you cried out against. Oh God, immerse my callous heart in the dark waters of Gethsemane. Weaken me with the weight of my unworthiness, and perhaps I will glimpse my own soul in that vile and putrid cup. May I cry out in desperation as you did: “Abba . . . Father . . .”