DayBreak Fellowship Church, Cape Coral, FL
DayBreak Fellowship
Thursday, September 21, 2017
Touching Heaven, Changing Earth.

Heart-to-Heart

(Jesus) “ ‘ Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? “Father, save Me from this hour”? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name.’” John 12:27
 
“And He took Peter, James, and John with Him, and He began to be troubled and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, ‘My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch.’ He went a little farther, and fell on the ground, and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. And He said ‘Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.’” Mark 14:34-36
 
 
     He lived to die, that through His death and resurrection we would have eternal life with Him instead of eternal darkness and separation from our Father. He died to be our salvation. Pretty incredible.  And yet, as we head into the week of passion that will culminate with the empty tomb on Easter Sunday, I have asked the Lord to show me what part of this week does He want to teach me something new and fresh. Where does He want me to meet Him? I started praying this prayer each Christmas and Easter season, because I began noticing how casually I had become with these momentous events. I was becoming a tourist to the manger, the cross and the tomb. Intellectually I was revisiting each site, reading about them--putting a mental sticky note on the event written in the Bible-- but I was doing it out of a sense of Christian duty, a well-meaning act of Christian obligation, to spare a moment of silence out of a busy week to quickly remind myself what this week at Easter or Christmas was all about.
 
     As I prayed and waited for Jesus to show me in His word where He wanted to meet with me, I kept coming back to the verse in John 12:27 and focusing on the fact that Jesus, the Son of God, the Son of Man was “troubled” and wrestled with the plan He and His Father had designed so long ago when Adam and Eve rebelled. In Mark, Jesus tells His chosen three, He was “troubled and deeply distressed.” And what was He wrestling with? I believe Jesus provides the answer in both references: to be saved from having to go through with the plan. For one hour Jesus struggled between the desire of His heart as Son of Man and the desire of His Father’s heart as the Son of God.

 
     So much of my earlier Christian naiveté I really believed that it was all about the torture, ridicule and desertion from those closest to Him, with which He struggled. Now, don’t get me wrong. Nothing and no one should ever minimize the severity and ghastliness of what Jesus endured for us. When we revisit the ordeal of crucifixion, and the beatings, and the degradation we rightfully should feel overwhelmed and humbled that Jesus would do even this for us. As humans we almost always think of our physical well being first, then our material well-being, and then our social well-being. Our spiritual well-being is probably the last consideration after all of the above have been met with some degree of satisfaction. And yet I believe that Jesus accepted these physical and emotional trials as the lesser sacrifice. So much of His teachings conveyed the fleeting aspect, the superficial aspect of our physical lives on this earth, but that we needed to pay far more attention to our spiritual relationship with our Father, God.
 
   No, I believe the hour Jesus was struggling with was the “hour”…the time period… when He would have to take on all of the sins of this world, past, present and future, and by doing so be separated from His Father. The agony, the darkness of being separated, of enduring the human thought of being forsaken by God, His Father was what He struggled with in that garden. Wasn’t there some other way to bring about salvation for His sheep than enduring the darkness for even a minute?
 
   As I tried to understand the full significance of this part of His sacrifice for me, a memory came to my mind. I have gone on two cave tours in my life. One was touring the caves in Alabama and the other the Mammoth Caves in Kentucky. During both tours, one of the special effects the tour guides would do was to get into an open area of the cave, where we could sit on benches and then with fair warning that what would follow would only last a few seconds, they turned out all of the lights. I had never experienced that kind of darkness before. This was not a darkness of night or the darkness of a power outage when after a few seconds one’s eyes would adjust and at least shadows could be discerned. In these caves, my eyes never did adjust. Try as I might, I could not make any shadows, no outlines of any kind to distinguish one person from another, or even the outlines of any of the cave features. There was only black…so complete that I could almost feel it. Even in those few seconds-- couldn’t have been more than 30-- I lost all sense that anyone was there with me. I moved my feet in order to make sure I even had feet and that they truly were on a solid surface. Since I couldn’t see even a faintest outline of my husband sitting next to me, I purposely reached out to make sure he was still there. And even though I was reassured of both, the blackness dominated and overwhelmed my sense of touch. I actually questioned that what I felt with my hands and feet might just be imaginary. For me, this would be Hell; to be encased, suspended in the total, palpable darkness of my sin with no hope of even a glimmer of light so my eyes could adjust.
 
   This is the hour that Jesus struggled with.  The hour that He would have to take on all our sins, to be encased in such total and complete darkness that there would be no light, no connection with His Father, where He would even question, “Why have You forsaken Me?” because the fullness of this kind of darkness would be so complete.
 
   Now, the good news of the Easter story is that because He did this we never have to endure this kind of hell, if we accept Him as our Savior, as our sacrifice for our sins. However, the greater lesson for me this year, is that He, the Son of God, struggled, was distressed with the plan and yet He chose to be obedient. He laid down His will for His Father’s; knowing full well what the Plan entailed. He struggled. I am so comforted by this. How many times in my life have I struggled with things and events that were not fair, that were completely out of my control, that seemed to be more painful than they needed to be to get the message across? Yet, here I have a Savior who knows what it is to struggle, to wrestle with the “whys” and the “hows” of this life. If Jesus had not questioned, had not asked for another way, I would have doubted He could ever understand my struggles. I needed to see that during that hour in the garden He struggled with the Plan, that He had an option between His desire and His Father’s will.  How precious, how profoundly loving He is that He chose to be completely obedient for my sake, to not stop short but to endure and conquer the darkness of separation, so I would not have to.