2nd Midweek Lent
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In the name of Jesus, dear friends in Christ, so what is your favorite name for the Savior? I’m going to make a guess and say that it’s “Jesus.” That’s probably the name for him that we’ve known the longest. As little children we sang things like, “Jesus love me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so,” and even still today we treasure the name when we sing things like, “Jesus lead us on till our rest is won.”
But why else is the name Jesus so precious to us? Well, first, it’s a name given from heaven. It wasn’t doting parents, but God Himself who picked out this name. Nine months before the Savior’s birth an angel messenger from heaven told both his mother and foster father that his name would be Jesus. And it’s a name that fits, right? Do you know what the name Jesus means? It means “Savior” or “helper.” One short name, only 5 letters in fact, but in it God’s plan of salvation is simply described.
The name “Jesus” brings to our minds God’s wondrous love for sinners like you and me. When we hear the name Jesus we can’t help but marvel at God’s love that worked out our salvation. So this year we’re looking at names of our Savior and tonight it’s this well-known name: Jesus. And tonight we’ll focus on Jesus’ love for a fallen world and Jesus’ love for his Father’s will.
Did you note what name God used for our Savior in the Garden of Gethsemane? It’s “Jesus” our Savior or our Helper. Well, what brought him there? What’s he doing there? Let’s see. Let’s go back there, let’s go back through those shadows of the olive tree garden. Walk quietly past the main group of disciples waiting outside the gates. Tiptoe quietly past those 3 closest disciples – Peter, James, and John- who are sleeping with exhaustion. There, look over there, about a stone’s throw, do you see him? It’s Jesus. What’s he doing? He kneels, then falls, flat down on the dirt, the ground. Look closer, what do you see? Could that be his blood dripping down his face, his body wrenched with sweat? And listen, what do you hear? His words, with force, full of anguish and dread, rivets us to the spot. “Father” he begs, “if you are willing, take this cup from me. A second time, a third time he prays with such anguish. Isn’t it astonishing? Isn’t it dreadful?
Well, “What’s going on here?” What is it that is crushing our Savior to the ground and causing him to beg? Wait a minute…isn’t this the same Jesus who fearlessly face his enemies, who drove out the money changers from the temple, who calmly walked on the raging water?? What is this cup that he’s dreading to drink? Well, we know don’t we? We’ve been here in Lent before. That cup was filled with the full force of hell’s punishment for sin. The sins of Adam and Eve, the sins of Cain and Abel, the sins of David and Absalom, the sins of Judas and Peter, the sins of the Jews and the Gentiles, the sins of you and me! All of them were squeezed into that cup like an awful poison and were being pressed to our Savior’s lips. That’s a bitter, bitter cup as no human being has ever tasted –even in the worst of circumstances! Jesus’ human nature shrank from this task before him. See the anguish coming like a wave from above and below, around about, within and without about to break all over him? “Take this cup, Father!”
As we stand here watching this, hearing this, could we ever again consider any of our sins as trite or insignificant? As something that doesn’t really matter? Could we ever cover any of our sins with those worn out excuses like, “I didn’t know” or “it’s not all that bad” or “everyone’s doing it”? Could we ever just shrug our shoulders at temptations or pet sins? Sin is serious! Each is deadly! Each filled that dreadful cup of which the Savior spoke! Each made the Savior bleed!
But who is it there in the garden? It’s Jesus, Jesus the SAVIOR, Jesus the HELPER, shouldering our sins, suffering our punishment, satisfying God’s justice. Why? Well, when a mother gets up night after night to feed her baby or stays up all night caring for a sick child, do we have to ask why? Isn’t it because she dearly loves that child? When a parent works faithfully at a job to provide for the family or send their child through college do we have to ask why? Isn’t it because that child loves them? When we hear Jesus pleading saying, “Take this cup” “but not as I will, but as you will” do we have to ask why? It has to be because he loves us. He loves us with a love that we can’t comprehend to go through this for us! His name fits, Jesus who loves a fallen world so much that he’s willing to give Himself up to save the world!
Well, let’s go back a second time to that garden. Look at Jesus’ love for his Father’s will. 3 times Jesus asked the Father to remove this cup of suffering, to find a different way. 3 times he looked his father in the eye and said, “may I pass?” But when the answer was no, what did he do? No murmuring or questioning the Father, no doubts about the father’s love, no dissatisfaction about the Father’s way. Instead, “May your will be done.” Jesus’ love for his father caused him to surrender fully to the Father’s will, even when it led to the cross.
Have you ever heard a child say, “Please Lord, put the vitamins in the pie or ice cream or cake not in the carrots and the broccoli and the lettuce!” How often don’t we pray like that? We want things sweet and rosy, we like God to put the vitamins of blessing on the good times. And when he does it is easy to say, “Yes, Lord, your will be done!” But when he doesn’t, when our health disappears and our family disappoints, when our plans don’t work out and our checkbook doesn’t balance, when friends forsake, when our faith is put down, what do we say then, “Not your will, but mine be done?” Do we grumble, complain, murmur, instead of asking God for guidance to see his blessings?
But think about the cabinet maker or wood worker using the power sander to bring out the beauty of the wood. Do you think if the wood could speak as the sander cuts its surface to smooth out imperfections it would say, “Ouch!” or “Thank you!”? Sometimes God’s sanding in our lives can be painful as we rebel against his will, even accusing him of not caring for us or doubting his wisdom and ways. We sin when we don’t fully trust God to guide us, trust that his will is right.
Then we need to look at this Garden once again. He was there driven by his love for us to win pardon for our sins of self-will and rebellion against God and His will. Those drips of blood were a painful preview of how far Jesus’ love would take him- all the way to the cross, all the way to the cross to pay our debt, wipe our slate clean.
It’s there in the shadows of this Garden where we get the strength to submit ourselves to God’s will. There’s nothing wrong with praying in the midst of trouble, “Father take this cup from me” as long as we add “yet not as I will, but as you will.” And then from Jesus, our Savior, and our Helper, God will give us the strength we need to follow God’s good and gracious will for our lives.
His name is Jesus. It means helper and Savior. He helps us submit to our Father’s will because he shows us his extraordinary love that brought him here to this earth to help us in our greatest need, to be our Savior from all our sins. Amen.