We are continuing our meditation of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Just a few hours before His crucifixion, Christ said something very intriguing:
Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will" (Matthew 26:39).
In the above Scripture, we have the one prayer of Jesus that God refused, the cup that was given to Him by the Father to drink. What was in this cup? Jesus spoke of the cup of wrath deserved by all of us for our sins. Isaiah the prophet spoke of such a cup of punishment for sin that had to be drunk by the citizens of Jerusalem after the Babylonians destroyed the city:
Awake, awake! Rise up, O Jerusalem, you who have drunk from the hand of the LORD the cup of his wrath,you who have drained to its dregs the goblet that makes men stagger (Isaiah 51:17; also read Jeremiah 25:15-17).
We deserve spiritual death because of the sins and choices that we have made in our lives. In the Garden of Eden, God warned Adam that he would surely die if he ate of the fruit on the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Adam did not die physically the day he ate, but spiritually he and everyone else born into the world were separated from God, and a barrier between God and man existed (Isaiah 59:2), a state of death in the eyes of God. The prophet Ezekiel prophesied about this punishment on sin when he said, "The soul who sins is the one who will die" (Ezekiel 18:4, 20). Sin had to be judged, or God would be accused of injustice. The Lord must maintain the punishment of sin, for He cannot just overlook corruption and injustice. For God to be loving as well as just, He came to pay the punishment we deserved to free us from the penalty of sin. In our passage of Scripture above, Matthew tells us of the one prayer that the Father denied Jesus, "if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me" (Matthew 26:39). Christ had to endure the full punishment of separation from God on the cross, “Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”) (Matthew 27:46).
God made no other way of escape other than that His Beloved Son should go through the time of humiliation, the pulling at His beard, the spitting in His face, and the flaying of the skin off His back, culminating in the torturous death of being crucified. There was no other way, no other solution to sin’s penalty. God didn't tell humankind to wait until Mohammed. He didn't change His salvation plan and tell humanity to go and see the Buddha. There was only ONE WAY, and it involved God Himself becoming the substitute. Here we see the love of God revealed. God planned Operation Redemption. He would pay the substitution ransom, the sacrificial price. The price is free for us, but it cost God the Son. He would take the place of all humanity. The judgment upon us was firm and just, the soul that sins shall die, but Jesus, God's Son, took our place, the just for the unjust to bring us to God.
For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit (1 Peter 3:18).
The love of God said "no" to Jesus. It was impossible for there to be any other way but that He should take the cup and drink God's wrath on sin to the dregs.
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
When we truly understand all that God has done for us, the only response is love for the One who has made our freedom and deliverance from sin possible. The cross of Christ is the only way to God. Let’s continue on Christ’s anguish in the garden tomorrow. Keith Thomas.
If you can’t wait until tomorrow to think through what happened to Jesus, you can go to the complete study 60 in Luke at the following link: Jesus at Gethsemane.
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