September 22

Text: Matthew 26:36, 37

 Then Jesus *came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and *said to His disciples, "Sit here while I go over there and pray."  And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and distressed.  (NASB)

Dying intentionally is a hard thing to do!  If a person has lost all quality of life with no reason for hope for improvement, or if one is suffering enormous pain on a continual basis, death can move from being an enemy to being a blessing.  However, unless there are exceptional circumstances, the pain involved in most deaths and entering an irreversible unknown are not welcomed by many people.

A primary objective of Christianity is to remove the fear of dying.  See 1 Corinthians 15:54-58.  However, it can remove our fear of death only because Jesus endured an agonizing death.

Also note that Jesus embraced his destiny, never questioning it.  He came to die for others.  However, while he embraced his destiny, the means to his destiny were dreaded.  He knew two things: (1) He would die at a time in life physically when it seemed he had much to continue to live foróthere was no physical reason for him to surrender his life, and (2) his death would be extremely painful.  He did not look forward to the surrender of physical life nor the pain that would be involved in his dying.  In those things he surely could identify with our struggles as we endure an undesirable death.

It should be of enormous encouragement to every Christian to realize that Jesusí death involved a moment of grief and distress.  He faced that momentónot by a means of escapeóby praying for Godís will to be done.  Though he (1) had God as his Father, (2) possessed incredible power, (3) knew his death would fulfill an ancient promise of God, (4) knew his death would provide access to universal salvation, and (5) knew his dying was a key element of the eternal defeat of the consequences of evil, he still experienced grief and distress.

Courage does not provide freedom from grief or distress, but allows one to act in a way he/she would not prefer in spite of grief and distress.

Suggestion for reflection: How do you define the courage to do Godís will?  (Read Hebrews 2:14-18.)

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