Read His Words Before Ours!
Have you watched a movie using flashbacks to help the audience understand how the past is connected to the current scene?
Or if, like me, you’re a fan of the popular TV show, This Is Us, you get it.
As I prepared for this Journey Study, the idea of a movie struck me. Since we are approaching Easter, the opening scene features Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.
We see the disciples asleep under a tree, and the camera pans to a lone figure in the distance.
He falls to the ground, exhausted. Emotionally spent, He weeps, and with sweat so thick it trickles down His brow as drops of blood, He cries out in anguish,
“My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me;
nevertheless, not as I will but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39)
As the heaviness of His words hangs in the air, the scene flashes back to another garden.
Here, in the middle of Eden are a man and woman, naked and cowering in fear as they crouch behind a bush, doing their best to hide. We expect lightning to strike, judgment crashing down on them as a result of their blatant disobedience to God.
But in a surprising twist, God curses the serpent.
While Adam and Eve’s sinful choice brings weighty consequences, God surrounds them with gracious compassion. He tenderly clothes Adam and Eve, promising one day their broken relationship with Him will be fully restored.
We realize that as Jesus kneels in Gethsemane, HE is the fulfillment of the promise made long ago in Eden.
The plot is perfect.
It’s Passover week.
The heartbreak of Gethsemane is still to come.
We find Jesus and His disciples eating supper together.
The evening must have been so confusing for the men who’d spent the past three years with Jesus. They heard Him teach, watched Him heal, and witnessed miracle after miracle. Yet, it seemed they still had NO understanding of the events unfolding before them.
The camera zooms in as the men sit around a table, eating the traditional Passover meal.
Sighing, Jesus looks around the room, soaking in the moment with His closest friends.
“How do I tell them, Abba?”, Jesus prayed. “They will be so confused and scared. Even after all this time with Me, they still don’t understand what we are doing.”
Heart heavy, He announces His impending betrayal.
Thaddeus spits his wine in shock. Philip drops the matzah he was passing to Judas.
“BETRAY You?”, Matthew utters in bewilderment.
“Which of us would do THAT?!”, James quickly adds, his eyes darting around the room suspiciously.
“It’s not me, is it?” Andrew whispers in Jesus’ ear, his face pale with worry.
Jesus moves the meal on to the last cup of wine, for with it comes the promise of a new covenant. His very blood would soon be poured out as a sacrifice bringing forgiveness of all mankind’s sins, past, present, and future.
He, Himself, would be the final Passover Lamb.
After supper, we watch Jesus and the disciples making their way to the Mount of Olives. As they walk, despite the tension amongst them, out of ritual, the men continue singing the traditional Hallel. (Matthew 26:30)
On this night, however, their minds wandered as they sang the verses from memory.
“Pssst, Thomas, what do you think Jesus meant by BETRAY? Surely, it’s just another of His parables, right?”
“I don’t know. And what did He mean by ‘drinking His blood?’ Hey, John, you’re close with Jesus, do you understand what He’s saying?”
“I wish. I don’t understand, either. I want to know when He will overthrow the Romans and set up His kingdom!”
Jesus is singing along, yet His own heart and mind are in extreme turmoil.
“I am here to deliver them.
I came to fulfill promises.
I must die, so they can live.
I must do this.
Father, help Me! Help Me finish what We started so long ago.”
With heaviness, Jesus enters the Garden of Gethsemane followed by His confused disciples.
And we’re back to our opening scene of Jesus crying out in despair.
He knew exactly what the next few hours would bring.
This night was the culmination of thousands of years of promise, a single perfect life, and a propitiatory death.
His coming had a purpose:
to reconcile man to God,
redeeming all who were lost.
He left heaven so we could enter.
As the story continues, He hangs on a cross, paying the penalty for OUR sin.
Just as God extended grace to Adam and Eve in Eden, He now offers salvation freely to us. (Ephesians 2:8-9). NO ONE deserves such grace, yet ANYONE can accept His incredible gift!
When we accept the gift of salvation, we abandon our roles as spectators and become part of the cast! We look forward to being in the final scene, a wedding supper foreshadowed by Jesus’ final Passover with His disciples.
One day, all who have trusted Jesus as their Savior will celebrate with Him at the Feast of all Feasts, the finale of all finales!
Until then, we wait.
Like the disciples on Passover night, we may not understand everything happening in our lives. We may be confused, afraid, overwhelmed, or overcome with grief.
Just as the hymns of Hallel proclaimed what God had ALREADY done, while also anticipating what He WOULD do, we can choose to trust God to keep all of His promises.
We live with both the reminder of Easter and the anticipation of Jesus’ return.
In the middle, we choose worship.
Not because of our circumstances, but because of CHRIST.
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!