After my son died, I wrote a book on grief for Christians. The story from the gospels that has stood out in my heart was not Jesus weeping at Lazarus’ tomb but His need to grieve privately when He learns of the death of His cousin, John the Baptist.
John’s disciples came and took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus.
When Jesus heart what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place.
Matthew 14:12-13 (NIV)
Jesus did not pray that John be released and delivered from his execution. Did that obedience to God’s plan make the human sting of grief more difficult or release peace from God’s Spirit?
Jesus reminded the sword-toting Peter that He could call forth legions of angels to handle the Roman guard who came to arrest Him in Gethsemane (Matthew 26) if that was the plan! It is hard for we humans to understand not using power when we have it! Jesus’ next few hours could have been more ‘George Lucas Jedi’ conception rather than Mel Gibson’s solitary way of suffering.
Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane, while not concretely answering our struggle as to why God does or does not act, it does show that:
- He knows that the Father can do anything and there could be an alternate plan.
- He asks that the Father â€“ straight out â€“ to take the cup away; â€œgive me the other optionâ€.
- Jesus wants to be rescued from the enemy â€“ but more than that â€“ He wants the world to have a freedom option. â€œIf giving up one means giving up the other â€“ Your will, Father.â€
And so Jesus’ fate was sealed â€“ by His own choice. Jesus did not sweat blood when He was before Pilate or on the cross. The battle was won…on His knees in the Garden.
I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me.
When I was in distress, I sought the Lord;
at night I stretched out untiring hands and my soul refused to be comforted.
I remembered you, O God, and I groaned; I mused, and my spirit grew faint.
You kept my eyes from closing; I was too troubled to speak.
I thought about the former days, the years of long ago;
I remembered my songs in the night.
My heart mused and my spirit inquired…
I will remember the deeds of the LORD;
yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds. Psalm 77:1-6, 11-12 (NIV)