Man of Sorrows

The powerful song inspired some thoughts I shared at the Lord’s Supper last week.

Mark 14:32-36 (NIV)  They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.”  He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled.  “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”  Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him.  “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

As incredible as it sounds, I think we have a tendency to forget how hard this was for Jesus.  He was about to have the “sin of man and wrath of God” laid on him.  He wanted, more than almost anything, to avoid that.  Even after these events had been set in motion and his arrest was imminent, he begged his heavenly father to find another way.  The gospels tell us he pleaded to God three times and the prayers were so intense that sweat ran off him like drops of blood.  He was overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. He was desperate for another way.  Yet, he was willing to do God’s will no matter what.

Immediately after these prayers, Judas arrived with the temple guards to betray him.

Matthew 26:50-54 (NIV)   . . .  Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him.  With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.  “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.  Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54  But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”

Jesus asked for another way and God said, “No.”  In obedience, Jesus would not let his friends rescue him.  Furthermore, all he had to do was say the word and the angels would have rescued him.  But he didn’t do it.  Rather, he resolutely submitted to the guards knowing he would face the trials, the crown of thorns, the scourging, the ridicule, the humiliation, the crucifixion, the agonizing death.

He knew if there was another way, God would have provided.  He knew it had to be. For that is the only way our sins could be forgiven.  He knew he had come for this very purpose.

What courage that man displayed in that hour!  What love that Savior displayed in that moment!

How can we consider that sacrifice and not be overwhelmed? How can we be casual about what he did for us?  Yet, we often are. Isaiah saw what would happen hundreds of years earlier when he wrote:

 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Isaiah 53:3 (NIV)

Jesus knew we would have a tendency not to esteem him as we should.  That’s why he gave us the Lord’s Supper so we would remember and say:

“Oh, that rugged cross my salvation, Where Your love poured out over me, Now my soul cries out hallelujah, Praise and honor unto Thee.”


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