Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Father in Gethsemane

This was my feeble attempt to grasp some small part of what God the Father experienced as Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane, preparing to die for our sins.  The italics are quotations from the four Gospels.

The Father in Gethsemane

They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus began to be deeply distressed and troubled. "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death," He said to them.

The Father hears the Son’s anguished words.  To the point of death.  God the Father, with the Son and the Spirit, has always existed, outside of time, three-in-one, in perfect community.  And now, His Son, His beloved Son, part of the Trinity, is going to die. 

Going a little farther, He fell with His face to the ground and prayed, "Abba, Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as You will."

"Abba" - a term of intimacy.  Jesus is not praying to a distant deity, but to His 'Papa' or 'Daddy'.  Earlier, the Son had prayed, "that they [the disciples] may be one as We are one" (John 17:22). As One, the Trinity spun out the galaxies of the universe.  As One, breathed life into dust.  As One, knew that these dust-made creatures would fall.  As One, determined the Way for mankind’s redemption, knowing the terrible cost. 

And now, in scant hours, as was planned before the foundations of the earth were laid, the wages of sin would be paid.

Then He returned to His disciples and found them sleeping.  "Simon," He said to Peter, "are you asleep?  Could you not keep watch for one hour?"

He went away a second time and prayed, "My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may Your will be done."

The Father hears so much sadness in His Son’s voice.  Pain and loneliness are palpable - perhaps for the Father, too?  For, as the Son drinks the cup, the Father will also experience suffering.  He will endure the Son’s gasping pain and groans of agony. 

The Father will allow His Son to be tortured, spit upon, treated as a criminal.  Witness His beloved Child abandoned by His followers.  Already, one of His closest friends has betrayed Him.  Another will do so very soon.

When He came back, He again found the disciples sleeping, because their eyes were heavy… Once more He went away and prayed the same thing.  An angel from heaven appeared to Him and strengthened Him.

Full from the Passover feast, bewildered and frightened by their Master’s sorrow, the disciples cannot stay awake.  The Son is so very alone and distressed.  The Father will not enter the Garden.  He could.  All things are possible for the Father (Matt. 19:26).  The Father could call down legions of angels to save His son.  Leave humanity to the mess it has made. 

Instead, He sends one angel from heaven, to strengthen and comfort His son.  Like His Son, the Father is faithful, despite man’s unfaithfulness.

And being in anguish, He prayed more earnestly, and His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.

Then Jesus returned to the disciples..."Enough! The hour has come… Rise, let us go! Here comes my betrayer!"

Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to Him, went out…

The Father knows all that is going to happen, too.  In agony that goes far deeper than any physical pain - and this from battered, swollen lips, as He hangs on a cross - the Son will cry out to His Father “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?”  

His Son, perfect, spotless, without sin, will take upon Himself every evil and despicable thing mankind has ever done or will ever do.  The Son will become sin (II Cor. 5:21), and in doing so, will become everything that separates humanity from the Father.

And, in some way none then, nor now, can truly grasp, with a love mankind is unable to fully comprehend, for a time, the Father will turn away, and His only begotten Son, Very God of Very God, who has shared His glory since before time began, will die.

"Who is it you want?"
"Jesus of Nazareth," they replied.
"I am He," Jesus said.

Indeed, the hour has come.

"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."  John 3:16

1 comment:

  1. So glad you got the angel thing. Everywhere God breaks into history, there is an angel to soothe our fears and offer us peace. Whether we be a young mother-to-be, a shepherd, a Lord in temptation, a savior in a garden -- whatever -- there is the reminder of hope beyond our power but within our believing. (Picture the stained glass above the organ case at 1st Pres.) Thanks, Kim.