The Last 24Pastor Jeremy | Thursday, April 21st, 2011 | No Comments »
Many times when people know they are about to die at the hands of another, their last moments become what define them. The realization that they only have a few hours or moments left forces the deepest and most important convictions of their heart to come up to the surface.
The famous patriot Nathan Hale spoke before his hanging, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” Englishman William Tyndale was a master of words and languages and possessed a God-given passion to translate the Latin Bible into a language the common man could read and study. He did this in the early 1500’s in England, knowing his convictions would cost him his life. He was burned at the stake for heresy, and, as he was burning, spoke this prayer, “Lord, open the King of England’s eyes.” Many men and women have lived out their convictions in the face of death. In doing so, they have left legacies behind which have inspired and moved people to action because the motives and of their hearts were exposed and found to be true. In a world of pretense and self-protection, we all yearn for and respect this kind of courage and fervor.
If we are not careful, we will admire Jesus’ last twenty-four hours before the cross as simply another life lived with conviction, commitment and resolve. It wasn’t. You see, Jesus had something that no other man ever had – the ability to choose not to die. Let’s trace the timeline back a little. When Jesus approaches Jerusalem, the scripture says that He laments and weeps. The very people and church He loves the most and wants to save will not accept Him, but are arrogantly drowning in their own self-righteousness. Wounding Him even more deeply, one of Jesus’ closest companions, who has traveled and ministered with Him for years, has now betrayed Him and sold His life for thirty pieces of silver. The pain goes deeper still as Jesus has just told one of His three best and most loyal friends that he will deny he even knew Him three times. Finally, in His deepest, purest and richest relationship, Jesus knows that in a few short hours, His own Father will have to turn away from Him and not be able to look on the repulsive, foul sin that He took onto His shoulders on the cross.
This is agony. This is hell like none of us has ever known. Betrayed, mocked, preparing to be tortured and murdered and utterly alone like no one has ever been alone. The anguish is so strong that Scripture records Jesus’ soul as “overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” and, physically, His sweat so labored with grief that it was filled with blood. Jesus even prays to God, “please let this be taken from me, please let there be another way.” The incredible fact is that, at any point, He could have called angels to deliver Him, yet His prayer was, “Your will be done.” He could have had instant relief from a terror greater than was ever known, yet didn’t.
Think Jesus has never felt temptation like you have? Think again. Think that Jesus could never understand your agony, your suffering? Think again. Our Savior experienced all that we ever could and more and was faithful when we could not be. The preparation for the cross revealed the deepest part of Jesus’ heart – His love for us!