“The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments. On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment” Luke 23:55-56. We of course know the next chapter. Perhaps our eyes, in reading this, have skipped to the next few verses without really thinking about how the people living that day of rest after the crucifixion felt. The expectation was great. Their Lord, Master, and Teacher they believed to be the Messiah was finally entering the holy city and the temple! People were laying down palm branches and hailing Him as the son of David. He always seemed to gain the upper hand over those who were in power. But now He was … dead? All their hopes and visions and expectations of the Messiah were ended by the very ones they had thought He would overthrow. How could that happen? Where’s the restoration of Israel? What life could they have now? Death is final. There’s only spices to prepare to put on a body in a borrowed tomb. Only potential cut short that they could talk about. Only former lives to resume. Only rest. Do you live Saturday or Sunday?
“But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and by his wounds we are healed” Isaiah 53:5. If Gethsemane was the olive press, then Golgotha was the destroyer. The blood that began to flow in the garden ran freely from His pierced body on the cross. Our sins were punished in His flesh that hung upon the tree. He was lifted up and so took our place in death becoming a curse for us by lifting the curse from us. His wounds, which were meant to be ours, healed us. In the incarnation, the second person of the Godhead was made like us in every way to bring us to the crucifixion. Having perfectly submitted as a man to His Father at Gethsemane, God could be killed at Calvary—for you, for me. Here’s where the work of salvation was done … in submission. “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness …” Titus 3:5. And so when we submit to death of our old selves in baptism, we are united with the crushing for our iniquities that Jesus endured for us so that we might live in submission to His will for our lives. Have you submitted to His destruction in baptism to live for His will?
“Then he said to them, ‘My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me’” Matthew 26:38. God in the flesh was never more fully human than at Gethsemane. Here, the One through whom all things were made wrestled between doing His Father’s heavenly will or his own selfish will, between calling down the legions of angels to halt the whole plan laid down since the foundation of the world or submit. Submit? Obey? What did God know of these things? And yet in anguish so deep that capillaries near the sur-face of his skin burst and mixed with sweat during the cool evening on the Mount of Olives, Jesus submitted himself in prayer to the One who could save his soul from death. The first blood that was shed for us was in that garden, so that the curse given to us in another garden many centuries before could be lifted. ‘Watch with him,’ if you can, ‘one bitter hour.’ ‘O the wormwood and the gall! O the pangs his soul sustained!’ If we are to ‘learn of him to bear the cross’ ourselves, we must ‘shun not suffering, shame, or loss.’ Or so scriptures & the hymn, “Go to Dark Gethsemane” bear witness. Is your soul sorrowful in your own Gethsemane, to do His will?
“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work” 2 Corinthians 9:8. Perhaps it’s human nature to see what we don’t have? Or envy what we see others have? Coming from a small mission church, I was amazed at all my new work had to offer, but I soon realized that many in this mid-sized church spoke as if we had no assets at all. What about the huge auditorium set-up to broadcast our classes and worship services? The kitchen, library, stocked classrooms, offices, multipurpose room, 14-passenger van, and a very active closet & pantry that is kept full by very generous donors? We even have a popcorn machine! And don’t forget the many mature Christians with deep Bible knowledge and experience conducting ministries, some whom are teaching our youth! Many cry for more, though, without using what God has given us already. We can misuse it and lose it as David did in 2 Samuel 12:8, but it’s also true that if we don’t use it, we will lose it. God is able to make all grace abound to us so that we may abound in our personal ministries. How are you using what God has given you?
“Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer; listen to my plea for grace” Psalm 86:6. To a parent, the crayon picture on the fridge means more than anything done by a master in a museum. Because it’s better quality? No, because of the relationship the parent has with the child. What makes it so valuable? Grace. This is what the psalmist recognizes: God’s grace gladdens the servant’s soul as he lifts up his soul to God. Much like the child does in presenting the crayon drawing, he is looking for the parent’s approval of him in their relationship. Love of the parent perfects the relationship, and the psalmist finds God’s love steadfast, forgiving, and good. It is God’s grace that the psalmist pleads for much like the child searches the parent’s reaction to his inadequate gift. In “His Grace Reaches Me” God’s grace is described as deeper than the ocean and wider than the sea, higher than the mountains and brighter than the sun. It is a grace offered at the cross for those who have fallen short through sin. And, it is a grace that completely washes away our sin through the blood of Christ. So, as you hand the crayon picture of your life to your Father, He accepts it as a masterpiece from His precious child!