Jesus accepted the cup of wrath for us.
By Laura Pilgrim
February 23, 2018
When I was a child our family had a garden. We grew tomatoes, beans, peppers. I associated the garden with bugs and chores – they are not my favorite childhood memories. As an adult I have a renewed idea of a garden. The bugs and work are still there yet with anticipation we plant seeds, fence and water with hope we might actually harvest something.
The Bible begins in a garden, a place of perfect beauty and harmony with God, man, and nature. We find a similar garden of magnificence and vitality at the end of Scripture with the Tree of Life bringing healing and the River of Life flowing from the throne of God.
Centered in Scripture we see a very different garden. In Gethsemane we encounter darkness and blood, not life and vitality. The cross is imminent and Jesus is in rare form-- troubled, burdened, asking questions. This garden will yield something that may not appear nourishing or life-giving at first glance but in reality produces our greatest hope – a perfectly obedient Son and Savior.
'Gethsemane' means 'oil press' in Greek. Just as heavy rock slabs press down upon olives to extract their oil, the weight of the sins of the world pressed down upon Jesus like a burden one could not withstand. As Jesus sweat blood, he poured his heart out to His Father as he had done many times before. We see in Jesus heartache and desolation, seeking comfort and strength.
In "Gethsemane" R. Kent Hughes highlights Christ’s anguish as a demonstration of his omniscient understanding of the horror of the sacrifice he was about to endure:
"The surroundings of Christ’s final hour clearly displayed his sovereign control. The intensity of his agony and his sovereign resolve to bear it, his control over his captors, his protection of his own, his grace to the wounded, all proved he is an omniscient, all-powerful God. (Guthrie, N, 2009. Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, pp.35-36).
It’s this demonstration of resolve and acquiescence that leaves me astounded and amazed. Truly only the Son of God could accept this purpose.
Christ was in control when life was falling in, when things looked the worst. (Guthrie, p.36).
In a world where I try to mitigate pain, minimize discomfort, and resist hardship, I am reminded that Jesus accepted the severe and horrifying reality of separation from God his Father for the souls of his beloved. I am not in control of pain, Christ is.
Gethsemane was not a tragedy, and neither are our Gethsemanes. This does not do away with the wounds of affliction in this life, but it is encouraging to see that behind human tragedy stands the benevolent and wise purpose of the Lord of human history. (Guthrie, p.36).
As I wrestle with questions about brokenness, tragedy and God’s purpose and presence I can remember that Jesus endured estrangement from the Father to enable my adoption into his family. Jesus accepted a cup of wrath that I may drink living water. No matter what garden I’m in I can find hope and life.
Laura is a teacher and stay-at-home mom who lives in Dublin, Ohio, with her husband Mike and their three children, Benjamin, Abigail and Katelyn.