Tag Archives: BigSisterKnows

What Cup?: A Closer Look at Jesus in the Garden

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If you’re familiar with the Easter story, you’ll remember the poignant scene of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. Here’s Matthew’s account.

“Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to His disciples, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’ And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and distressed. Then He said to them, ‘My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.’ And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.’ And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, ‘So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour? Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.’ He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done.’ Again He came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. And He left them again, and went away and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more. Then He came to the disciples and said to them, ‘Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners’” (Matthew 26:36-43 NAS).

Three times Jesus prayed the Father would “let this cup pass.” What did He mean by that?

Most people will say that Jesus was praying to avoid the pain of the cross and the separation from the Father. They summarize it like this: “Jesus was God, but He was also man. His spirit was willing, but His flesh didn’t want to suffer on the cross. He prayed the Father would give Him a way out, but He didn’t. In the end, Jesus obeyed the Father and suffered and died for our sins.”

I’ve always taken issue with this stance. First, Jesus told the disciples they should pray to avoid temptation. He said their flesh was weak, not His.

Second, Jesus had just spoken of His coming death and resurrection that very night during His last supper with the disciples.

“And He said to them, ‘I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I shall never again eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God'” (Luke 22:15-16 NAS).

He also instituted communion, a prophetic symbol of His coming death:

“And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, ‘This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood’” (Luke 22:19-20 NAS).

Would He, just hours later, pray the Father would allow Him to avoid that very suffering?

 

The Plan

After dinner, on His way to Gethsemane, Jesus warned His disciples:

“’For I tell you that this which is written must be fulfilled in Me, “AND HE WAS NUMBERED WITH TRANSGRESSORS”; for that which refers to Me has its fulfillment’” (Luke 22:37 NAS).

Jesus was quoting Isaiah:

“Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, and He will divide the booty with the strong; because He poured out Himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet He Himself bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:12 NAS).

The cross was God’s plan to redeem His people to Himself. Jesus, as part of the Trinity, was a willing participant in that plan. His entire life and ministry was focused on fulfilling that purpose. Why, then, would Jesus pray for a way out at the last minute?

 

The Power

After Jesus prayed in the garden, Judas betrayed Him. One of the disciples defended Jesus by striking the slave of the high priest. Jesus responded:

“Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? How then will the Scriptures be fulfilled, which say that it must happen this way?” (Matthew 26:53-54 NAS).

Again, Jesus pointed His disciples to the Scriptures which prophesied His death and resurrection. However, He also referenced His ability to call upon the Father and receive help. Since angels did not appear from Heaven to prevent His crucifixion, we know that He did not pray for that.

What, then, did Jesus pray for in the garden?

What was the cup He prayed would pass Him by?

 

The Cup

I think the answer is in Luke’s account of that evening:

“Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground” (Luke 22:43 NAS).

Luke was not speaking in literary terms. Hematidrosis is a real medical condition in which a person sweats blood. It’s associated with extreme fear or stress. As God, Jesus would have no cause for fear, though He could have experienced stress as He awaited His fate on the cross. However, Scripture tells us that Jesus would have felt a lot more than His own emotions.

“But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth” (Isaiah 53:5-7 NAS).

“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21 NAS).

It was our sins and illnesses that weighed heavily on Jesus that night in the garden. How His heart and body must have ached with the vileness of the world! How long could His human body withstand their burdens? What if Jesus had passed out or slipped into a coma? What if He had died before He could reach the cross?

I believe it was this very scenario that Jesus prayed to avoid. The responding angel then “strengthened” Him—not to give Him courage but to give Him physical strength to withstand the coming abuse prior to His crucifixion.

Jesus’ prayers were not to avoid the cross but to fulfill it. 

This explains how Hebrews 5:7 can be true:

“In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety” (Hebrews 5:7 NAS).

Jesus knew His purpose, and He never wavered. He came to earth willingly that He might preach the gospel, die a sinner’s death on a cross, and raise Himself on the third day. (Tweet This) When our sins wore heavily on Him, He prayed for strength to carry on and fulfill His purpose. Aren’t you glad we have such a Savior? Isn’t our God worthy of praise?


Additional Reading About Easter

Words from the Cross
A Savior We Can Relate To
Hosanna
The Name of Jesus


I’ve included Isaiah 53 below. I encourage you to read through it with new eyes. Take a moment to stop and appreciate this prophetic word that foretold the death of Jesus—a sinner’s death for a perfect God. Then celebrate that Easter didn’t end with the cross but with an empty tomb! Hallelujah!

“Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth. By oppression and judgment He was taken away; and as for His generation, who considered that He was cut off out of the land of the living for the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due? His grave was assigned with wicked men, yet He was with a rich man in His death, because He had done no violence, nor was there any deceit in His mouth. But the LORD was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; if He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, and the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand. As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; by His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities. Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, and He will divide the booty with the strong; because He poured out Himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet He Himself bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:1-12 NAS).

To Guard Your Marriage, Guard Your Tongue

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Thanks to Kristen Hogrefe for hosting this week’s blog on her site, KristenHogrefe.com! Be sure to check out her site for more godly encouragement.


 

As you may know, Kristen just tied the knot with a great guy (woo hoo!). Now, I know she’s overwhelmed with newlywed life, and she’s being bombarded with advice she probably didn’t ask for. Still, as the “big sister,” I feel the need to share the following bit of wisdom I’ve learned over the course of eight years of marital bliss:

To guard your marriage, guard your tongue.

Here are a few practical ways to bless your marriage through your speech.

 

1 – Don’t be Ugly

One day your hubby will spill his drink on your beautiful new couch, forget your anniversary, or run over your favorite rose bush with the lawn mower. In that moment, you’ll want to scream at him for being careless, forgetful, lazy, or just plain mean—but don’t do it! Instead, take a breath. If that’s not enough, take a hot shower, put on your comfy jammies, and blast the BeeGees.

Remember that this is your partner in life. You’re on the same team. Then sit him down, make sure you have his attention, and tell him how you feel. Even then, don’t yell or say anything ugly because you’ll regret it later.

“There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (Proverbs 12:18 NAS).

 

2 – Don’t be Critical

Reality check: your hubby will never cook, clean, or take care of the kids the way you do. He is a man, after all, and men always approach these things a bit different than we do. That doesn’t mean he shouldn’t help around the house or that his quality of work should be less than yours. However, when you see him wipe up a disgusting mess on the floor with your dish towel, take a breath. (There’s a lot of breathing in marriage. Go ahead and practice counting to 10 now.)

Start by thanking your hubby for cleaning up the mess. After all, if he were still living alone, it would probably stay on the floor for a long, long time. Then say something like, “Hey, honey, I like to use those towels for the dishes, so it’s probably best not to use them on the floor. Let’s use paper towels next time, okay?”

If your hubby understands why you do things a certain way, he’ll be more apt to follow your lead. But be careful here! If you correct everything he does, you’ll become overly critical, and he’ll start to tune you out. No one wants to be a nag (or live with one), so pick your battles wisely.

“It is better to live in a corner of a roof than in a house shared with a contentious woman” (Proverbs 21:9 NAS).

 

3 – Keep His Secrets

As soon as you get married, you learn little things about your new hubby. Some might make you giggle—like his penchant for bubble baths after a rough week. Others may make you cringe—like when his frugality leads him to buy frozen steaks from the dollar store. You may feel the desire to share these little secrets with your mom or best friend, but don’t! Marriage is a sacred union of two, and when you share your hubby’s secrets with others, you let them into your marriage…and nothing good comes from that. Enjoy this time as you get to know your new hubby, and assure him that he can trust you with his heart as well as his little quirks.

“He who goes about as a slanderer reveals secrets, therefore do not associate with a gossip” (Proverbs 20:19 NAS).

 

4 – Speak in Love

While it’s important to avoid negative speech with your hubby, it’s just  as important to fill your conversations with positive speech. Is he worried about work? Tell him that you’re proud of him and that you’re praying for peace and new opportunities. Did he spend all day planting new flowers for you? Tell him how much you appreciate his hard work and how great the yard looks (but avoid mentioning the fact that he ran over the last batch of flowers). This isn’t about platitudes but about finding something good, something sweet to say to the one you love.

“A soothing tongue is a tree of life, but perversion in it crushes the spirit” (Proverbs 15:4 NAS).

 

Those are four different ways you can guard your tongue—but that’s easier said than done. The apostle James had this to say about it:

“But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison” (James 3:8 NAS).

That’s less than encouraging, right? So what is the answer?

“The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD. All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, but the LORD weighs the motives. Commit your works to the LORD and your plans will be established” (Proverbs 16:1-3 NAS).

The truth is that we can’t control our tongues through our own efforts, but if we submit ourselves—including our speech—to the Lord, He will give us the strength and desire to do so. Here’s a simple prayer you can repeat as often as needed:

“Lord, please guard my marriage by placing a guard over my tongue. Keep me from saying things that would hurt our relationship, and give me the humility to speak in love and kindness. Thank you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

The Trinity: Made in His Image

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The Trinity of God

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. As Christians, we believe that God is a triune being made up of these three persons. We read about the Trinity in the Bible, we learn about it in Sunday School, and we take it on faith. But for many, the idea of a three-in-one God is quite confusing. If someone were to ask us to explain it, we would probably have a hard time doing so.

When Saint Patrick shared the Gospel with the Irish in the fifth century, he searched for an illustration to explain the Trinity. Legend has it that he picked a three-leaf clover. Pointing to each of its leaves, he explained that the single clover is made up of three distinct leaves. In the same way, God is made up of three distinct persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This elegant explanation resonated with the people, and Christianity spread throughout Ireland.

The Trinity of Humanity

“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:26-27 NAS).

I read this verse when I was little, and I asked two big questions: why is God plural (”Our image”), and in what way are we in God’s image?

I quickly learned that God has three parts: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. That’s why God refers to Himself in the plural.

So in what way are we similar to God’s image? We, too, are a trinity of sorts. Each of us is comprised of a body, soul, and spirit.

A Trinity in Harmony

The Trinity of God is always in perfect harmony. Jesus tried to explain this when He spoke of doing the Father’s will.

“So Jesus said, ‘When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me. And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him‘” (John 8:28-29 NAS).

It’s believed that Adam and Eve also enjoyed internal harmony, allowing them to commune with God effortlessly. Then they sinned, and a disconnect occurred. Now we can’t use our minds to control all of our bodily functions, so diseases run rampant. We struggle to use our spirits to control our thoughts, but we still sin. Our internal trinity is often at war, as Paul explained to the church in Rome:

“For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin” (Romans 7:22-25 NAS).

Thankfully, Jesus told us how to fight this internal conflict:

Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41 NAS, Jesus speaking).

When we become believers and submit to God, He gives us strength, peace, and guidance, but our internal trinity remains disconnected. Some may wonder at this, but we should remember that God wants us to rely on Him and walk in faith.

I do believe, though, that when we get to heaven our bodies, souls, and spirits will once again be in perfect harmony. This will allow us to worship God in the way He always intended—and a way we can’t possibly imagine right now!

A Thoughtful St. Patty’s Day

There are probably many reasons God made us in His image. Perhaps our internal trinity connects with God’s Trinity like a puzzle piece. Perhaps it’s a magnet of sorts, drawing us inexorably closer to our Creator. Or maybe our trinity is a mark of God’s design, like a shamrock stamp that identifies us as one of God’s special creations.

This St. Patty’s Day, after you finish your corned beef and cabbage, I encourage you to take some quiet with the Lord. Sit in amazement at a Creator who loved you enough to make you in His image. Now, that’s something worth celebrating!

“When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age’” (Matthew 28:17-20 NAS).