“I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” –Galatians 2:2
I can't even imagine how Jesus felt as He knelled down on that rock at the Garden of Gethsemane. As He prayed fervently and in agony, He said seven words that would forever change the course of history, "not my will, but thine, be done." In that moment Jesus surrendered His life to God. Prior to praying those words, His spirit and flesh were at war. For His time had come to fulfill His mission on earth, but the mere thought of having to die such a gruesome death made Him have second thoughts. In a weak moment, He prayed, "Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me (Luke 22:42).
When we celebrate Easter, we gloss over the Garden of Gethsemane and jump straight the Resurrection. The most preached and used scripture on Easter is "He is risen ("Matthew 28:6). Yes, Jesus rose from the dead with all power in heaven and in earth! Our Savior is alive and we should rejoice and celebrate His triumphant victory on the Cross! In that moment He defeated the devil. While that is great, that's not the story God wants me to share with you today. Today God wants me to share with you the story of Jesus' struggle. Please understand, the journey to the Cross wasn't easy. It was a hard journey filled with emotional, mental, spiritual and physical pain.
(Photo Credit: http://byronbayphotographer.com/18032/images-of-jesus-praying-in-the-garden-of-gethsemane/)
Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ hung, bled, and died upon the Cross for our sins. His sacrifice carried our grief, sorrows, and afflictions. He was wounded for our transgressions, and by His stripes, we are healed (Isaiah 53:5). Christ endured the Cross so that we may have eternal life. We can never repay Him back for His ultimate sacrifice on Calvary, but we can make a choice to follow in His footsteps and dedicate our lives to Him.
In Luke 9:23, Jesus says, "If any of you want to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me." When Jesus died on the Cross, He crucified His flesh. As His followers, we must do the same. Every day we need to crucify our flesh and renew our minds and spirits in the Word of God. We also must be willing to suffer and sacrifice for the Kingdom of God like He did. In Acts 14:22, Apostle Paul said as Christians, "we must suffer many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God."
As we get ready to celebrate Easter on Sunday, let us not forget Christ's suffering. His prayers at the Garden of Gethsemane are reminders to us that great purpose requires great sacrifice and pain. Before He rose, He died and before He died He suffered. Have you suffered for the sake of the Kingdom of God? Have you laid down your life (plans, wants, and desires) for Christ? Until you have done that, you can never fully comprehend the power of Jesus' Resurrection.
This Easter I want you to think about Jesus' praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. Visualize His sweat falling down His face like drops of blood. Feel His pain, struggle, and fear. The weight of the world, our salvation, was literally on His shoulders. He literally had to pick up His cross, carry it, then get beaten and tortured to death so we could live an abundant life. Because of His unconditional love for us, He made the ultimate sacrifice. This Easter let's do the same and give our lives to Him. And as we do this we can rest in this promise, “no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life" (Mark 10:29-30).
(Photo Credit: http://bibchr.blogspot.com/2010/04/did-jesus-sweat-drops-of-blood-as-he.html)