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Wrestling in the Garden and God's Outrageous Love
WRESTLING IN THE GARDEN AND GOD’S OUTRAGEOUS LOVE
A few months back at our men's group meeting, after some fun at the pool table, our host and leader spoke about the prayers of Jesus at the time before his betrayal and eventually the execution.
During Jesus’ intense time of prayer he stops as recorded in the gospels, once, twice and then a third time according to Mark’s account.
He speaks to his friends about watching and praying that they not succumb to temptation. (Matt.26, Mark 14, Luke 22)
I began to think about this intense time and had some other thoughts, some of them I shared that night. This is what I thought about.
Jesus knew what he was about to give himself to and had been preparing for all of his life, but he also knew that there with him were the men who were going to carry the next colossal events on their shoulders and how this was going to change the future of God's intervention with man for all time. Not only was he becoming the sacrificial lamb for the world, not only was he carrying all our sin and guilt with him, not only was he demonstrating the enormous love of the Father to all mankind, but he was to be betrayed by a friend and killed by the very people he had come to demonstrate the love of God to, who only hours before he had been teaching, healing and casting out the demonic from those who were bound.
He foretold this event in the story of the vineyard and the workers who killed the son of the vineyard owner, speaking of himself and those who had been entrusted with the principles of the kingdom. (Luke 20)
Here was a group of people, his very special close friends, who knew nothing of what the next hours were going to unfold, and who knew nothing of how they were going to react and run away abandoning and even deny knowing him.
These were the same people who would be used by God through Holy Spirit to change the course of history, beginning with a small speck of a nation and for the next few thousand years would impact the entire earth with a radical message of good news through the death of one man for all for all time. This would be a phenomenal new message that defies all logic.
The wisdom and seemingly foolishness of God to entrust men with so preeminent a task, as he chooses to trust the fickle-heartedness of mankind to carry out something so important, that had they known what they were doing and the ramifications... ripples in the stream of time, of what this was going to be changing in the divine order of the Jewish religious world and beyond, they may have failed completely had they seen the whole picture as was thought out in God's heart. For only he knew what he was going to accomplish in using them.
Even when Jesus appears to the disciples and many others, their minds are still thinking in the natural; which would be normal for us also. Their thoughts as a group were, “Are you going to restore the Kingdom of Israel?” (Emphasis mine)
When all along God’s plan is to place the Kingdom of God within every man’s heart and therefore take this Kingdom to the entire world through the Power of Divine Love, not by sword nor armies nor war. There was no reference in their mindset at this moment to grasp what Jesus had been trying to introduce to them. They would still have to wait before this revelation became reality.
They could only consider what they thought was the obvious since Israel was under domination by the Romans. But this was neither God’s concern nor his blueprint for the future, which he was preparing to develop in the hearts of those who would grasp it. WOW!
All these men and numerous women had a choice to wait it out for the next upcoming days, together in a room or go back to what they were doing before and forget about it all. This was their greatest moment of temptation. Do they really believe that Jesus was all and everything he had said, and that there was yet another encounter to behold in Holy Spirit? I mean, what did they know of Holy Spirit? Where was there some evidence that this was going to happen and who or what was Jesus talking about?
They could all have easily just walked away.
So the prayers of Jesus and especially his prayer for Peter, whom he was empowering to lay the foundation of a New Order of Christendom was of extreme importance.
God as a trusting Father has to allow his hands to be free from any coercion. There were no mind games, no control, no changing the rules of free will. Even the angels who could be called to assist were there but only as observers.
All of this diverse group could have stopped at any time and the plan of God could have fallen flat.
But it didn't and there was no failure, because God knew what was in the heart of each chosen individual, each as different as they come.
Can you see that here is a great miracle in and of itself.
He knew they could be entrusted with the greatest event this world has ever seen and will ever know until the return of Jesus in our very near future.
I consider that God's action of creation was easy compared to these next days as he watched his only son walk down a pathway into the arms of hatred. His people, his heart, his passion for life and giving to mankind would be rejected and his heart in Father, Son and Holy Spirit would be broken and all his love thwarted, until mankind would see what really happened here and turn and repent and be welcomed back.
The next events at Pentecost would be the telling factor in seeing how this humungous altering of the religious mindset would unfold upon the earth, starting in Jerusalem. Even the angels stood by looking on with anxious hearts.
He still awaits his first love of the Jews to have their eyes and hearts opened.
I cannot speculate on what I might have done during those horrendous next few days, I was not there.
I was destined for such a time as now. I was chosen to receive his gift of love to me at a specific moment in my life. I had a choice to make and I said "yes to Jesus, I will follow you!"
That was over 34 years ago.
I like millions of others have been given a gift of Holy Spirit... the comforter, teacher, the one who directs and leads us into the truth and love of God the Father and glorifies the Son, Jesus of Nazareth.
I like these other men, Jesus original followers, was not coerced, controlled, manipulated, threatened, violated, pushed, nor demanded by religiosity to do what I chose to do. I chose to change my lifestyle and have a relationship with God as my heavenly Father because I wanted to. To be filled with Holy Spirit and have him join with my spirit and to love Jesus was also my choice.
To walk in the spirit and be led daily by Holy Spirit and to love God and others is my choice. I choose to completely trust my hands and heart to him.
God writes the notes of the symphony, but we decide what we want to play.
Even as we have experienced our own personal Pentecost, we are in many ways still observing these events through dark glasses and lose some of its earth shattering cataclysmic reality. God took his control of the keys of the Kingdom and passed them on to Jesus who in turn has freely given them over to us and assists us with the delegation of its power.
Do we even now know how great a feat was performed for all mankind, for all eternity in and from the heart of so awesome a God and Heavenly Father because of his outrageous love for us? This continues to defy all logic!
The calendar is pointing to our time for remembrance in the Christian church. I pray you come to a fuller understanding and honoring of so GREAT a God as our Yahweh, and Jesus, so phenomenal a SAVIOR, and Holy Spirit so COMPLETE a companion to strengthen our feeble hearts to love one another and the world around us. Amen.
Be blessed at this Easter time of remembrance!