Our Lord is trying to introduce us to identification with himself through a particular "Gethsemane" experience of our own. ~ Oswald Chambers
Watching a 3-D movie without 3-D glasses is a bland and boring experience. Looking at your life through the wrong lens can be the same way. Without the proper lens, the picture is flat, the colors confusing and the characters lifeless. However, the moment you look through the right lens, the images come to life.
The events in the life of Jesus bring meaning to the events of our own. As a matter of fact, the ups and downs, the joys and challenges of our lives as Christians can be quite confusing to us unless we learn to view our lives in the light of His. The final week in Jesus' life included especially great depths and heights: He faced a dark night of the soul in Gethsemane, a torturous cross and, ultimately, a glorious resurrection.
Identifying with Jesus in His journey keeps us focused and faithful in ours. Looking at our lives through the lens of His brings right perspective and great comfort. I call it finding your Easter I.D. When we have a correct Easter I.D. we view our lives the way God wants us to: as "hidden with Christ in God" (Col. 3:3, NIV). The events in that final week—the Garden, the Cross, and the Resurrection—serve as a roadmap of reassurance for us.
The apostle Paul found strength and power to persevere by identifying consistently with Jesus and the events in His life. Paul consistently tracked the events of his own life and the life of the believer in light of the pivotal events in Christ's. Just listen to what he said:
"I have been crucified with Christ" (Gal. 2:20).
"Having been buried with him in baptism" (Col. 2:12).
"Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 6:11).
"I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead" (Phil. 3:10-12).
In this three-part series, you will be inspired to take a fresh look at Gethsemane, Calvary, and the Resurrection and consider how identifying with Jesus in His journey can keep you focused and faithful in yours.
A Personal Gethsemane
Life includes Gethsemane experiences—have you noticed? Our "Gethsemanes" are those places where our will wrestles to find its way to God's will. As God patiently wrestled with Jacob and his will, He also wrestled with Jesus the Son of Man, His will and His request in the Garden of Gethsemane. As Adam represented mankind by wrestling his way out of the will of God through disobedience, so Jesus represented us by wrestling His way into God's will by obedience.
Interestingly enough, God never chides Jesus for struggling in the Garden. The struggle itself wasn't sin on Jesus' part. It isn't a sin to struggle if our struggle brings us closer to the perfect will of God.
Gethsemane is the place where we count the cost, where we consider what it will demand of us to go the way God is calling—all the way. We ponder, we pray. We sweat and we struggle. We weep and we wonder. We play out the scenes of what will be required of us as we follow Him.
Gethsemane for Jesus was a place of great stress, unprecedented stress. The weight of the world was on Him—literally. His shoulders were not yet bearing the Roman-made cross, but His soul surely was. Public opinion had turned hard against Him. His closest friends were sleeping in the hour in which He needed them most. The surrounding community had one day called for His coronation. He knew they would soon call for His crucifixion.
Anxiety within Jesus' body was at a fever pitch; His pulse was racing, His heart pounding, His mind reeling. He wasn't in the fight of His own life; He was in the fight for our lives, our souls.
So great was His stress that He said, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death" (Mt. 26:38). "He began to be deeply distressed and troubled" (Mk. 14:33).
Not only did Jesus take my place (and yours) on the cross, He also took our place at Gethsemane. If Calvary was the place he bore our physical pain and suffering, it seems that Gethsemane is where he bore the psychological trauma of it. Make no mistake. I was supposed to be there, and so were you.
In the Garden that dark night, Jesus had simply asked Peter, James, and John to stay here and watch with Him, but they did not. Had they stayed, they would have watched the tears, they would have heard the agony, they would have seen Him sweat and labor on their behalf. He didn't want them to miss this moment. It was an essential part of their Easter I.D. He wanted them to share in His sufferings (Phil. 3:10) and to behold the depths of His struggle in order that they might perceive the depths of His love. This would give them strength in the struggles they would surely face. But they missed their opportunity; while He was laboring, they were sleeping (Mk. 14:37-42).