Jesus knew it. He knew before the war was over, he would be taken captive. He knew that before victory would come defeat. Jesus knew that before the light of Sunday would come the darkness of Friday.
Never had Jesus felt so alone. "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak," Jesus confesses. His humanity begged to be delivered from what his divinity could see. Jesus, the human, peers into the dark pit and begs, "Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me."
Did he know the answer before he asked the question? Did his human side hope his heavenly Father had found another way? Regardless, Jesus asked God for an escape plan. He begged for an exit strategy that involved something other than suffering a horrific death on a cross. There's an old hymn titled, "He Could Have Called Ten Thousand Angels" that speaks to the ability of Jesus to forgo the cross and return to his throne in heaven.
But he couldn't
He couldn't because, as he knelt in the Garden of Gethsemane, begging his father for another way, out of the corner of his spiritual eyes, he saw you and he saw me. He saw you living in a world that isn't fair. He saw you betrayed by those you love. He saw you with a body that gets sick and a heart that grows weak. He saw you staring into the mouth of your own pain and suffering and he didn't want you to be alone.
He wanted you to know that he understands, for he too has lived in a messy, broken world. He too has been plotted against and betrayed by those who claimed to love him. He knows what it's like to smell the stench of Satan. And, perhaps most of all, he knows what it's like to beg God to change his mind and to hear God say, "No."
For that is what God says to Jesus and Jesus accepts the answer. You may have thought the battle was won on Golgotha. It wasn't. You may have thought the sign of victory is the empty tomb. It isn't. The final battle was won on a dark, lonely night in Gethsemane. And the sign of conquest is our Savior, at peace with what lies before him.
It was in the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus proclaimed, "I would rather go to hell for you than to go to heaven without you."
Join us tonight as we reflect on this unbelievable act of compassion and love by Jesus. Our Good Friday service begins at 7:00pm. There will be times of reflection around the Lord's Supper, special music by members of Parkside Fellowship and El Buen Pastor and a Good Friday message by Pastor Daniel from El Buen Pastor.
Finally, plan to stick around after our service and join with El Buen Pastor, Anthem Church, Global Community Church and members of Common Ground as we gather in the Fireside room for a time of fellowship.
See you tonight.