The Answer to the Final Test

Final night in the Garden of Gethsemane—Jesus faced a final test that we all end up facing. Thankfully Jesus gave us the answer for this final test.

Before we go there, time travel back to Genesis 22 where Abraham and Isaac acted out centuries in advance what Jesus—and God the Father—would face. Abraham was given three days notice – you have to wonder if he slept any at all during the trip to Mt. Moriah! No time markers are specified but this moose has to suspect it was Passover day back then since God the Father and Jesus are such Master Timers.

Incredibly, we see nothing about a struggle. “Wait for us. I and the lad will be back soon” Abraham tells his servants.

When Isaac noticed no lamb, he started to get the idea something bad was in the works! “God will provide” Abraham assures him and named the place that.

Fast forward to Jesus in the garden. He was the provision! And He knew it full well! He knew it was coming for a long, long time! He knew He was the “Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8).  He knew looming just ahead: betrayal, judicial lies, scourging and crucifixion.

He would do His best to see and feel “the joy set before Him” (Hebrews 12:2) but that wouldn’t spare Him facing the dread that could only be described as dreadful!  He was the sinless and yet unrisen bread of life bound to die after hands would break and crunch Him like a matzo!

“My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death” (Matthew 26: 38).  Jesus asked us His disciples to “Stay here and watch with Me.” We slept. As He wrestled in prayer, apparently for an hour, the crux of His prayer was: “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will” (v. 39).

He didn’t just say that over and over.  Knowing it was the Days of Unleavened Bread about to begin, maybe Jesus mused: “Well, I knew this was going to be no piece of cake!”  He probably wished He could just die right there as He knelt in agonizing prayer.

Rose Publishing’s Names of Jesus says “Christ’s prayer in Gethsemane before his crucifixion should teach us both about whose authority we are under and about accepting God’s better plan… (‘Let this cup pass from me’), the only request He made that was denied, teaches us that there are some things we ask for — good as they may seem — that are simply not God’s best for us” (2006, p. 4).

An angel appeared from heaven and strengthened Him (Luke 22:43).  “And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly” (v. 44).

His second prayer showed still unquestioned surrender but with a major shift in resolve: “If this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done” (Matthew 26:42).  We slept on.  Jesus prayed a third time,

Luke the physician diagnosed Him as sweating great drops of blood!

This is a well-known medical condition, though relatively rare, called hematidrosis. Blood vessels in a net-like form around the sweat glands constrict under pressure of great stress.  As the anxiety passes the blood vessels dilate and rupture into the sweat glands, pushing to the surface as blood mixed with sweat.

It’s significant that happens “as the anxiety passes.”  This must have happened toward the end of the third prayer.  Then Jesus woke us up, met the mob and carried out the Father’s will, perfectly surrendered to it.

As powerful as Jesus is, He could easily have avoided all of this and simply disappeared.  He could have called down a legion of angels.  He could have made his skin impenetrable, anesthetized to pain so He would feel nothing.  But he meekly kept all His power under control.

Whatever problem or issue we’re dealing with, it ultimately boils down to the same final test faced by Abraham and Jesus. It’s easy to say “your will be done” in the prayer closet when everything is easy.  Of Abraham God said “Now I know” (Genesis 22:12).

Whenever any test comes,the right answer is always: “Not my will but yours be done!”
__________
FUN FACT: Don’t ever expect to find a moose with hematidrosis. First of all, does it look like I work hard enough to work up a sweat! Secondly, we cannot tolerate climates above 80 degrees Fahrenheit because we cannot sweat. You never see a moose worrying or anxious anyway, but if you do, don’t bother saying “Don’t sweat it.”

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