Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Garden of Sorrow

"Tis midnight and on Olive's brow, the star is dimmed that lately shone.  Tis midnight in the garden now, the suffering Saviour prays alone."

"Tis midnight and from all removed, Emmanual wrestles lone with fears. E'en the disciple that he loved, heeds not his master's grief and tears."

Last night, our pastor preached on Gethsemane.  I had written this piece before church, and was glad to have someone who knew so much more than me confirm what I had written.   If you go to Central and you read this, it will sound much like last night, but I know a few of my non-Central friends read my blog, so it's new for them. 

Oh how deeply my heart hurts when I think of the anguish Jesus felt in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night He would be betrayed and handed over to the Romans. 

Even though He knew the outcome, His pleadings show how much He dreaded the pain, humiliation, separation from God, and finally death He'd face in just a few short hours.  He knew it was His mission, and He was resolved, as our pastor said last night, to accomplish His mission.  Still, He anguished because He was human too and as a human torture and death were unappealing.

"Tis midnight and for others' guilt, the Man of Sorrows weeps in blood. Yet, He that hath in anguish knelt is not forsaken by His God."  He was distraught to the point of death.  "And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly and His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground." (Luke 22:44)  The clinical term describing what was happening to Jesus is hematohidrosis.  When a person is greatly stressed, the blood vessels around the sweat glands constrict and then they dilate until they rupture, and the blood mixes with the sweat.

On the website, Christian Answers, an article points out it wasn't the physical suffering He would endure that caused Him the most anguish, but it was knowing His Father, God, would forsake Him as He took on the sins of you and me.  Barbara Lardinais on her website, Hannah's Cupboard, said taking on the sins of the whole world wasn't a done deal until Jesus said, "Yet not My will, but Thine be done." (Luke 22:42).  Jesus could have said, "Father, these people aren't worth it."  And God would have said.  "You're right, Son."  But, Jesus didn't say it.  He would endure in the last moments of His life, a life without God.  How horrible it must have been for the One who knew no sin, who had been in constant communion with the Father, to know He would die alone and forsaken to save someone so unworthy as me.

I feel certain God was there with Jesus comforting Him as his soul cried out in the place of sorrow.  And when He arose to meet His captors, He never faltered.  He knew He had to do it or you and I would be forever condemned.  "Tis midnight from the heavenly plains is borne the song that angels know. Unheard by mortals are the strains that sweetly soothe the Saviour's woe."

(Tis Midnight and On Olive's Brow by  William B. Bradbury)

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