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Don’t Pass The Garden Before You See The Cross

Each year during the time Resurrection Sunday approaches; I focus my devotional readings on books that speak of the suffering of Christ, his death and resurrection. The past few weeks I have been reading “The Cross He Bore” by Frederick Leahy and was particularly struck by the agony of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane. Writing this on Thursday before Resurrection Sunday, where the traditional church remembers the garden events, I want to share a few of the thoughts that have gripped me.

One is that the perfect obedience of Christ led him to the agony of the events at Gethsemane and then to Golgotha. This obedience called for self-restraint in the midst of great suffering as he would say, “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?” (Matthew 26:53, 54) Christ’s obedience would be such that he would not evade one thing that was necessary for him to accomplish our redemption; no matter the cost.

I have in the past tended to think that it was not until Jesus was on the cross that the Father separated himself from the Son. It seems though that the silence in Gethsemane to Jesus’ repeated prayers was an indication that the Father’s hands were already on the cup of wrath. Christ being stricken at that point and his anguish are evident in his prayers. And though the Father was depriving Christ of his presence, he was not unconcerned as with an outstretched hand, he did send an angel to him.

But, as Leahy states in his book, “The angel’s mission was not to bring relief to Christ, but to strengthen him for further and even greater anguish-anguish quite beyond human endurance. It was then our Lord ‘being in an agony-prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground’ (Luke 22:44). The angel’s presence served to aggravate his suffering. It was in order that the suffering might not only be maintained, but also that it might be intensified that the angel was sent. The battle must go on. It was too soon to say ‘Finished.’ The Lamb of God must have the strength of a lion in this struggle.

Death and the curse were in our cup.
O Christ, ‘twas full for Thee!
But Thou hast drained the last dark drop,
‘This empty now for me.
That bitter cup, love drank it up,
Now blessing’s draught for me.”

It makes me tremble when I consider the wrath of God, which was inflicted upon Jesus and my sin, which incurred such judgment. I am a debtor to God’s grace and mercy to me – a sinner saved by such a great Savior.

(“The Cross He Bore, Meditations on the Sufferings of the Redeemer,” by Frederick  S Leahy, The Banner of Truth Trust, 1996)