Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Facing Death

Matthew 26:36-46 (ESV)
Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, "Sit here, while I go over there and pray." [37] And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. [38] Then he said to them, "My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me." [39] And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will." [40] And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, "So, could you not watch with me one hour? [41] Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." [42] Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, "My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done." [43] And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. [44] So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. [45] Then he came to the disciples and said to them, "Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. [46] Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand."

“My soul is very sorrowful, even to death.” I think we underestimate the pain and sorrow that Jesus suffered. I hear it every once in a while being down played. Jesus was God and he knew he was going to be raised from the dead. I even hear people arrogantly posit that they would do what Jesus did. Right…. This is one of the things that I liked so much about Pannenberg’s “Jesus- God and Man”. Pannenberg does a good job of emphasizing the utter humanness of Christ. He is God, sure, we know that, he knew that, but he was also fully human, and what he faced there burdened his soul. Jesus was experiencing the existential angst that we all feel at certain points in time. He was facing his own death, two years younger than I am right now. He knew that it would change everything, even knowing that he would be raised, he also knew he would never again interact with his friends and family they way he had these past few years. He was human. He had the loves and fears of a human. He was man, not just physically, but also emotionally. And yes, men do have emotions; we just don’t show them well. We tend to mask them with anger, because anger is respectable….
But here in Christ’s own words he shows his angst and the dread with which he faced his own death. It drives home the point that he was fully human. It also calls into question all those who think Christians shouldn’t be sorrowful, or fearful in the face of death. Blah, blah, blah. Some people you would really like to shut up…. Fear of death is not a sign of weak faith, it may just be a sign of strong faith. Unless we want to accuse Christ of having weak faith….

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