Every year as the season of passover approaches I try to reflect on the past year. Have I truly tried to live for the sacrifice that was given to me? Have I served fearlessly and selfishly? Have I given my all out of complete obedience to the One who died so that I could be free. The answer is always no, giving me even more reason to be thankful for forgiveness, mercy and grace. This year as I’ve read through the Last Supper, the Prayer on the Mount of Olives and the Betrayal of Jesus one verse in particular has caught my attention. It’s from Luke 22:42 and it says “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Something about these words spoke by Jesus caused me to pause, reread and ponder. I’ve read this verse many times, its nothing new and yet this year I find myself going back to it over and over again.
I try to imagine what Jesus was feeling in these moments before the physical suffering He was about to endure. Was He scared? Was He doubtful? Was He angry? Was He uncertain? Was He thankful? Did He have any idea of what exactly it was that was going to happen? The notes in my study bible say that Jesus felt all the emotions of his humanity, including fear and anxiety. All the emotions!! For some reason this moment gives me peace. It gives me reassurance. We see Jesus on His knees begging God for another way out. He says “if you are willing, take this cup from me”. How many times have we all been in a situation, on our knees begging and pleading for a way out? How many times have we ask that we be taken around the storm rather than having to weather our way through it? We pray that God would allow us to by-pass the suffering and just hand us the reward.
Sometimes God answers “yes” and frees us from the suffering. Other times He simply says “no”, takes our hand and guides us through the pain, turmoil and suffering. He never leaves us. He endures with us, collecting all our tears along the way (Psalms 56:8). Then He celebrates with us as we reach the end glorifying His faithfulness and provisions. That’s what I picture when I try to imagine this moment when Jesus is praying asking His Father to take the cup of suffering away, yet willing to be obedient to His calling at the same time. Jesus is willing to go through the pain unlike any of us can imagine because He is certain that His Father will be with Him through it all. That in the end it will be the name of His Father that will be glorified. That all will be made right not only for Him but for all who believe in Him. The ultimate sacrifice lived out through the blood of christ so that all could be set free. The suffering that Jesus endured was excruciating… The reward great.
In those moments when you can’t take anymore, when the pain is too great, think of how Jesus must’ve felt hanging on the cross. I am certain the pain was too much for any man to endure. Being suffocated by the weight of His own body, blood dripping from the crown of thorns placed upon His head and the nails placed in his wrist and feet. Open wounds from the numerous lashes, a hole poked in His side and heart breaking for the bitterness and anger of this world. A sacrifice I’m almost sure none of us would willingly volunteer for. A sacrifice that lead to the greatest gift all of us have and ever will be given. So in those times of doubt, pain, suffering and complete frustration remember that through suffering comes perseverance, redemption, wisdom… Reward. Rewards that glorifies the One who created you.