In the Garden
Monday, March 30, 2015
Luke 22:44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
As I mentioned yesterday, we are going to spend this week focused on the shed blood of Jesus, and look at the four specific instances where His blood was spilled. We begin today in the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus has gone to pray after His Passover celebration with the disciples.
Judas the betrayer has already met with the enemies of Christ and divulged to them the location of the Lord. The soldiers and religious hypocrites were on their way to arrest the very One who would save them if they would just believe.
Jesus has asked His remaining disciples to pray with Him, and He even invited three of them to stay close to Him and pray with Him. Jesus then moves a short distance away and kneels down before the Father.
He is not alone with God. Satan has one last chance to defeat the redemptive plan of God. He begins an assault on our Lord by appealing to His human nature and the deep desire we all have for self-preservation. Jesus is in agony as He considers the pain and brutality of sin’s suffering. He passionately wants to fulfill the purpose of God, yet He powerfully wants to protect His own life. The agony of the temptation is excruciating. He begins to sweat as He considers all the physical implications of following the Father to the full expression of His grace. There must be a way to avoid the suffering.
I’m pretty sure I’ve never gone so far as to sweat drops of blood. I have been in situations that have caused me to sweat profusely, but I can’t imagine the agony that must be experienced to cause capillaries to burst beneath the skin and blood be carried out with the drops of sweat. I tend to slow way down or even stop when the pain begins to intensify to that level.
Blood and water were mixing together long before the poured out of Christ’s chest from a spear wound. The flesh (water) being infiltrated with the spirit (blood). The finite and the infinite combining to accomplish the eternal.
O the agony of sin’s temptation. Have you felt it? Have you experienced the anguish of the conflict between the flesh and the Spirit? As a follower of Christ, indwelt by the Spirit of God and determined to obey Him as His disciple, we must feel it. We must feel the agony of Christ even in the daily decisions with which we are faced to either serve self or serve God. We must know the struggle between the desires of the flesh for self-preservation and self-advancement and the desire of the Spirit for serving the Savior and glorifying God over self. How far have we fallen from the Spirit-filled life if we no longer experience such agony?
And yet Christ has already conquered that agony. His blood-sweat has already covered the agony of the struggle between self and the Spirit of God. The shedding of His blood in prayer resulted in surrender to the will of the Father, and Jesus has provided for us the way to serve Him without the agony. When we are in Christ, God’s commands are not burdens, but blessings. Decisions to follow Christ rather than follow the world are to be easy. If they are not, then we have not yet fully decided to serve Him. We have not surrendered to His will and are still negotiating for our own.
The agony of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane has provided a way for us to be released from the agony of sin’s temptations. When we are tempted to serve self, we now know that the blood of Jesus was already shed to pay for the agony we would feel whenever we put our will up against God’s. Our will is gone. God’s will be done!
There is no agony in doing God’s will.
Hebrews 9:11-14 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.