Calvary Missionary Baptist Church
Rev. Stephen P. Samuel, Senior Pastor/Teacher
The “Passion” refers to the events of suffering during the final days of the life of Jesus Christ. As we speak of the passion or sufferings of Jesus, we often focus on the events during His arrest, trial and crucifixion. During these final hours Jesus endured pain unimaginable to most of us and sickening to all of us. Surely none of us could imagine the anguish of being beaten and hanging on the cross until overcome by death, especially for crimes that we did not commit.
However, we must keep the sufferings of Jesus in its own contextual perspective. The death of Jesus was not unusual for His day in time. Many Jews during the years before Jesus died in the same manner. Many Christians after Jesus during the first and second century died in the same manner. Moreover, there are cases of intense suffering the litters our history from slavery, to lynching, as well as sadistic torture. Many people who were innocent have been put to death all over the world. Many Children have been abused and continue to be sold as property to the highest bidder in many countries, including the United States. We in the Christian community have to a great extent over-emphasized the image of How Jesus died almost to the point that it has become like a fairy tale. Jesus is not special because of How He died, but rather Jesus is special because of Why He had to die.
The key to understanding why Jesus had to die forces us to tread into deep theological water. However, any person who claims to be saved by His blood ought not mind moving from milk to meat every now and then. There are some clues that will help us better understand why Jesus had to die that are not revealed during his trial and crucifixion, but rather during his time in the Garden.
Scripture Lesson for this week: Matthew 26:36-45
I would like to suggest this proposition: The victory of Calvary was not won when Jesus was raised from the dead on the third day morning with all power in His hands. But rather the victory of Calvary was won before Jesus even went to Calvary, after He passed through the Garden of Gethesemane.
Take note of the fact that it was in the Garden of Gethsemane that Jesus faced His greatest challenge. Yes, while at trial He had to face Pontius Pilate. Yes, while on the cross He had to face the ridicule from the public and Roman soldiers. Yes, while in the grasp of death He had to face the cold stillness of the grave. But yet none of these challenges was as great as the conflict in the Garden of Gethsemane, because in the Garden He had to face Himself. And it is only in the challenge of facing the ultimate test, Himself, we come to understand why Jesus had to die.
In the Garden we see the ultimate struggle between life and death, with our salvation hanging in the balance. The struggle between Jesus’ will to have the cup of death to pass and God’s will to have the cup of death accepted. This Garden was the place where the Will of humanity was voluntarily superceded by the Will the God. God did not impose His decree on Jesus, but rather willingly accepted the decree in the face of His own demise.
1. Note the Location of Jesus: It is interesting that the Will of God was denied by humanity in the Garden of Eden and so it is only fitting that the Will of God be recovered by humanity in the Garden of Gethsemane. The Garden was a place of repose and isolation. It was a place of solitude, and yet the decision in this place of solitude had an affect on all of humanity. We are all connected by the tissue of human fabric and so our decisions that are often made in isolation have a great affect on all of humanity. “No man is an island to himself...”
2. Note the Condition of Jesus: The great anguish and pain displayed by Jesus is evidence of the human will to live. The desire to continue in life is the normal human reaction in the face of death. Moreover, take note of how long Jesus prayed. Matthew records three times but we are confident that it was much longer because Luke suggests that an angel was sent to comfort Him as great drops of sweat like blood poured from His body.
3. Note the Position of Jesus: Jesus voluntarily accepted the Will of God in responding, “Not my will, but thy will be done.” Even in the face of the fact that the Will of God was diametrically opposite to the Will of Jesus, Jesus accepted the will of God.
The Question: Have you visited any Gardens lately? Have you come to the place in your life where you have determined that the will of God is more important than your own? The reason why Jesus had to die, is so that you can make this decision. A decision that truly proves that God’s Will is voluntarily more important than your own.