Lent Devotion for April 6
"My Soul is Exceedingly Sorrowful"
Reader: "Sit here…"
Response: "…while I go over there to pray.”
SCRIPTURE: Psalm 69:20
20 Their insults have broken my heart,
and I am in despair.
If only one person would show some pity;
if only one would turn and comfort me.
SCRIPTURE: Matthew 26:36-38
36 Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.” 37 He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed. 38 He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
Reader: “The word of the Lord."
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
All of us have had those times of dread of some event from which there was no way out. In college it was final exams. Maybe it’s a meeting with the IRS letting you know you’ve been audited, or anticipating the date of an upcoming surgery. There are any number of events that can produce the “dread.” In Jesus’ case of going to the cross, the intensity was ratcheted up considerably. He took His three closest friends with Him to pray and to physically be with Him in His hour of need. He knew full well what lay ahead. It would seem that His grief and anguish not only concerned the physical torture and pain but perhaps more so in bearing the sins of the entire world and experiencing the full force of God’s wrath toward sin. As I think about Jesus’ situation, it occurs to me it is something we can not possibly comprehend. Jesus had the power of God and could have called thousands of angels to His defense. His forces could have wiped out the Roman guard. Having the power to immediately make the situation entirely different, and not using that power, but going through a ghastly torture because it was the only way to rescue a rebellious people and doing so because you loved them, is beyond our ability to grasp! There is also another aspect to the sorrow. It is more simply. It is the sorrow of rejection. It wasn’t simply that the people rejected Jesus, the sorrow was also for what they were missing because of their rejection. The life that God had designed for them was being pushed aside. There was sorrow because they didn’t know what they were missing and had the only hostile reaction when the subject was even approached. That brings sorrow. When we apply that concept in relation to bringing restoration to the whole created order, we can only begin to get a glimpse perhaps of what Jesus was feeling and processing. In this situation, the disciples even missed out on the “ministry of presence,” that is, simply sitting there quietly with Jesus, saying nothing, like the first week of Job’s three visitors. The best part of their help to Job was when they were physically present and said nothing. The depth of our Savior’s love is truly hard to grasp.
MUSIC: Tomás Luis da Victoria, "O Vos Omnes” by Central Washington University Chamber Choir
O Thou whose eternal love for our weak and struggling race was most perfectly shown forth in the blessed life and death of Jesus Christ our Lord, enable me now so to meditate upon my Lord’s passion that, having fellowship with Him in His sorrow, I may also learn the secret of His strength and peace. I remember Gethsemane: I remember how Judas betrayed him: I remember how Peter denied him: I remember how they all forsook him and fled: I remember the scourging: I remember the crown of thorns: I remember how they spat upon him: I remember his pierced hands and feet: I remember his agony on the cross: I remember his thirst: I remember how he cried, “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?”
–From John Baillie’s A Diary of Private Prayer, p.71