MONDAY, MAY 1
SCRIPTURE: Matthew 26
This is obviously a lengthy chapter that is so full of so many important things. It is hard for me to pull out just one section and talk about that but because of this limited space and our limited time, that’s what I have to do.
I want to take you to the Garden of Gethsemane. The story begins in verse 36. I want you to look specifically in verse 39. And I want you to notice that Jesus’ prayer was not about going to the cross. His prayer was about a cup passing from Him. This same imagery is carried out in verse 42 where Jesus speaks about “drinking it”.
Here’s what I want you to consider. As Jesus prayed in the garden that night, He knew full well where He was headed. And He was completely aware of what would happen to Him. He knew He was going to the cross and He knew that He was going to be crucified.
But as He was praying, He did not shrink back from the cross or from crucifixion. He asked for “this cup” to pass from Him. So, we have to ask ourselves what this cup is about.
The cup is symbolic of all of God’s wrath being poured out on all of humanity’s sin. Jesus did not fear the cross. But He did not relish taking on the sin of all humanity and then suffering from His Father’s wrath poured out on that sin. Jesus knew that for the first time in all of history, He would experience all the Father’s pent up wrath against sin. And He knew that He would have to absorb every ounce of that wrath.
Among other things this simply means that the cross did not kill Jesus. He did not die because of the crucifixion. His death was the result of the penalty of sin. Remember the Bible says, “The wages of sin is death.” Yes, Jesus died on the cross. But He did not die because of the cross. He died because of your sin and mine.
We know from historical accounts that death by crucifixion took a very long time. Although Jesus hung on that cross for several hours, He died much sooner than the Romans expected. In fact, in some of the other Gospels, the Roman soldiers were breaking the legs of the two thieves crucified with Jesus. (The reason they did that was to speed up death.) But when they got to Jesus to break His legs, they discovered He was already dead. In fact, one of the soldiers actually jabbed a spear into Jesus’ side to confirm His death.
My point in all of this is to simply tell you that as gruesome and horrible as the cross was, that is not what caused Jesus the most pain. The most pain came from the Sinless One taking on our sin. The most pain came from the wrath of the Father being poured out on the Son. The most pain came from the Father turning His back on the Son and Jesus dying in complete and total isolation.
Yet, Jesus went to the cross anyway! Oh what a Savior. What a glorious Savior.