“We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.” (2 Corinthians 4:7, NLT).
We’ve all heard the amusing story about the man who falls over a cliff and grabs a branch on the face of the cliff to break his fall. As he is hanging from the branch, he calls up toward heaven, “If anybody is up there, help me!” Suddenly a voice booms down from heaven, “LET GO OF THE BRANCH!” The man hanging from the branch thinks about it for a moment and then calls out, “Is anybody else up there?”
“So to pacify the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He ordered Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip, then turned him over to the Roman soldiers to be crucified.” (Mark 15:15 NLT).
Why was it necessary for Jesus not only to suffer an agonizing death, but to have severe cruelty and indignity inflicted upon Him?
In addition to being flogged with a lead-tipped whip by Pilate’s order, Jesus was also:
“Then they came to a place named Gethsemane, and He told His disciples, ‘Sit here while I pray.’ He took Peter, James, and John with Him, and He began to be deeply distressed and horrified. Then He said to them, ‘My soul is swallowed up in sorrow—to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake.’ Then He went a little farther, fell to the ground, and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. And He said, ‘Abba, Father! All things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me. Nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will” (Mark 14:32-36, HCSB).
If the Transfiguration revealed Jesus’s divine nature, then Gethsemane revealed His humanity.
A lot of theological interpretations and explanations have been offered for the anguish expressed by Jesus at Gethsemane. Certainly He was about to bear the sins of all humanity–past, present, and future–and it was a horrific proposition!
“My life passes as swiftly as the evening shadows. I am withering away like grass. But you, O Lord, will sit on your throne forever. Your fame will endure to every generation” (Psalm 102:11-12, NLT).
These two verses contrast the eternal and enduring nature of God with the brief and transitory nature of human beings. They transition this psalm from the topic of human desperation and misery (vs. 1-11) to the topic of God’s glory (vs. 12-17).
Have you ever noticed how clearly you can perceive the goodness and greatness of God when you are suffering and in need of His help?
“I cry out to God; yes, I shout. Oh, that God would listen to me… All night long I prayed, with hands lifted toward heaven, but my soul was not comforted. I think of God, and I moan, overwhelmed with longing for his help… I am too distressed even to pray….Has the Lord rejected me forever? Will he never again be kind to me? Is his unfailing love gone forever? Have his promises permanently failed? Has God forgotten to be gracious?” (Psalm 77:1-4,7-9, NLT)
Have you ever been so sick or so distressed or both that you don’t even have the will to pray?
Isn’t praying exactly what you should be doing if you are that sick or distressed?
“And there they kept evangelizing” (Acts 14:6, HCSB).
This is one of those days when I get to the end of the day and find myself really weary. Some would say “weary from well-doing,” though I question how much “well” I’m really “doing.”
I’ll spare you the details of all my troubles because as hard as I think I have it, my troubles pale in comparison to the troubles encountered by Paul and Barnabas in Acts 13 and 14, who were undertaking the task God had assigned them.
In Acts 13:2 God sent Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey: “The Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work I have called them to.'”
“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. My enemies will retreat when I call to you for help. This I know: God is on my side!” (Psalm 56:8-9, NLT)
Did you ever play games as a child that required the choosing of “sides?”
A “side” was one of two or more contesting groups or teams. A captain would be selected or appointed for each “side” and each captain then would choose others to be on his or her side.
Of course, sides were chosen strategically so that a winning team would be assembled, or so all of one’s best friends were on the same side!
The psalmist declares that he has assembled a winning team that can defeat his enemies because God is on his side.
Take a moment to savor the word picture the psalmist portrays in these verses.
God is a desired and valuable team member not only because He is all-powerful, but because He knows you so personally and intimately.
He has collected all the tears from your sorrows in a bottle.
He has kept a list of your sorrows in a book.
The Hebrew words for “sorrows” and “bottle” are similar and the psalmist uses a word play to emphasize God’s vicarious understanding of your pain and suffering.
God has “bottled-up” your sorrows, so to speak.
Because God knows and understands your troubles. He is on your side to help you overcome them!
“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” (1 Peter 5:7, NLT)