Friday, April 06, 2007

The Agony of Christ

"And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground" (Luke 22:44, NASB).

Before Jesus went to the cross, he spent some time praying in a garden. During that time, he became so involved in talking to his Father that his sweat became like drops of blood.

Earlier this week, I heard that people doubted that such sweating could occur, until the Germans conducted experiments during World War II involving how people responded to fear. They discovered that people could be terrified to the point of sweating blood.

If that is the case, what could have frightened Christ to such an extent? He had taught his disciples that they did not need to fear circumstances or people. Even more, Jesus had modeled fearlessness every day of his life. So, what was happening? Was he afraid of death? No, he feared neither people nor what they could do to him. Was he afraid, as I have heard taught, of being seperated from his Father? Not exactly.

I am convinced that Jesus feared facing the wrath of God. As the apostle Paul wrote, "Much more then, having now been justified by (Jesus') blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him" (Romans 5:9, NASB). As he faced death, Jesus knew that he was dying in the place of sinners who deserved to face the awesome wrath of God. While we may wish to downplay the seriousness of our sins and their consequences, Jesus recognized that "it is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Hebrews 10:31, NASB).

So why would Jesus Christ place himself in such a position? He looked forward to the results. He knew that his Father would be satisfied with his sacrifice. He understood that many people's lives would be changed forever as they placed their faith in him and what he had done for them. He realized that his resurrection would change everything, bringing hope to all who would follow him.

Jesus approached the cross dreading the agony of facing God's wrath, but anticipating the joy of renewing the relationship between his loving Father and his rebellious brothers and sisters. "For the joy set before Him, (Jesus) endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:2, NASB).


Bob, Sarah, and Miriam Logsdon said...

Terry, I like your articulation here. Why was he sweating blood? It was like a foreshadowing to the sacrifice on the cross.
I got to watch the Nativity Story. You were right. It was worth watching. I loved that image of the bull chewing on some cud or grass right before he was to be sacrificed. Herod put his head up to the bull, so as to put his sins on that bull. Sarah turned her head for the next part (even though they didn't show the throat slitting).
I also liked the three wisemen and how the movie brought out the significance of each gift, especially myrhh. In Mark, Jesus was offered wine mixed with myrhh to deaden the pain. The last wiseman to present a gift said of the myrhh: For the sacrifice. Thanks for getting me thinking, Terry.

Terry said...

Thanks, Bob. I'm glad you were able to watch the Nativity Story (and liked it, too). Janet said that you will be out of town next weekend. Have a good trip! We'll see you soon.