6th Wednesday of 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,
What do you do when someone starts crying? What do you do when you’re in a situation and someone starts to just break down and cry? Does your heart begin to beat faster, do you start sympathizing with the individual in their grief, do you perhaps give them a hug or take their hand? Maybe you begin to let tears fall and begin to join them. Why do people cry? I think it’s safe to say that people cry when a situation has suddenly become very serious to them. Something very serious has happened – a loved one dies, someone or something important is lost. Even good movies can invoke tears, can’t they? When you’re watching a movie and the plot develops, something tragic happens and the main character is suddenly filled with grief, all of a sudden you might find yourself choked up as you’re watching it, why? Because you’ve transposed yourself into the serious situation and you’re imagining how you’d feel if that movie character were you.
What about Jesus, did he cry? The artist who designed and created all of our beautiful stained glass windows commented to me as he was installing them that in none of the pictures is Jesus smiling. There’s a reason for that. We’re never told in the gospels of Jesus smiling. We are told of a number of times of Jesus crying, weeping, being inwardly moved. Why? Because Jesus came to this earth for serious business. And perhaps one of the clearest demonstrations of Jesus’ seriousness is before us this evening when Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane. Did Jesus cry here? We’re not specifically told, but notice what we are told:
“He began to be deeply distressed and troubled.” “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” “Going a little farther, he fell to the ground.” In another gospel we’re told that his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. We’re also told that angels came to strengthen him. Jesus, overwhelmed with sorrow, perhaps crying and weeping, falling to the ground in deep, deep distress.
Why? Because of the seriousness of the situation. The word “troubled” here in the Greek means to be “overcome with horror.” Overcome with horror. Imagine you’re walking down the street, you turn the corner and there you see someone you dearly love – a spouse, a child – mutilated in a terrible car accident. What do you feel? You’re sick, nauseated, overcome with horror, it’s a horror that is just choking your life. We can’t even begin to imagine what Jesus is facing in that garden- He’s facing the cup of God’s eternal wrath against sin -every sin of every sinner of every time and place- that cup is being pressed to His lips and he’s being made to drink it down to the very last drops. It’s absolutely horrifying.
Jesus took His suffering seriously. But what about the disciples? What does Jesus tell them? “Sit here while I pray, stay here and keep watch. Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.” And….they’re sleeping!! He tells them to watch and pray, goes away, comes back and what? They’re sleeping again! And they didn’t know what to tell him. He goes away and comes back a third time and…they’re still sleeping!!
But it’s not just the disciples, is it? Lent is a very serious time. We wear black, we don’t sing Alleluia, we sing more somber songs. But are we taking Lent seriously? Do we take Jesus’ suffering seriously? Do we take sin and temptation seriously? Jesus says, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” Do we take him seriously? How many car accidents have happened because someone took their eyes off the road and put it on their phone? How many injuries have happened at work or in the home because eyes were diverted and concentration lost? Far more tragically, how many times has Satan lulled us to apathy in prayer, or lulled us with garbage on TV or the internet so sins of sexual immorality or filthy language really doesn’t repulse us as much any more? How many times has Satan tempted us to become lackadaisical and apathetic in our prayer life, in our devotion to God’s Word, in our diligence to worship regularly in God’s house? How serious are we when it comes to sin and temptation?
Jesus was absolutely serious. Is human nature shrunk at the seriousness of drinking the cup of God’s wrath completely and he prayed that the cup be taken from him, but not what he willed, but what God the Father willed. God’s answers was that He was to drink it in full. Why so? So you and I would never, ever face God’s wrath. Jesus drink the cup of God’s punishment for every time we’ve given in to Satan’s temptation, every time we’ve fallen asleep and failed to watch and pray. All so you can rest. Rest your soul in the wounds of Jesus for forgiveness and healing for the times that our weak flesh has fallen.
Temptation is serious. It rears it’s ugly head again and again, day in and day out. Martin Luther once said, “You can’t keep the birds from flying overhead, but you can keep them from building nests in your hair.” So, turn to Jesus in times of temptation. When you do you’re telling Satan’s birds to go nest elsewhere. Satan is good at tempting, but Jesus is perfect at saving and rescuing. So repent, turn to Jesus when you face temptations, turn to him, only him, always him. Amen.