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Jesus’ actions make everyone feel loved

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In high school, cross country was my life. I loved to run. I lived to run. I was team captain for Trimble County High School.

My senior year my team was on course to make history. We had won every race leading up to regionals. We won our conference out right as well as the conference championship race. We even won the regional championship, which ended up being one of the best races I ever had personally.

We easily qualified for state, and I was ready to bring home another big trophy. There was just one problem. About a week before the big race, I felt myself getting sick. I wasn’t quite sick, but felt the bug coming on. I was determined not to get sick. I refused to get sick. I wouldn’t even take the medicine my mom tried to give me because I saw that as an admission that I was getting sick. “I WILL NOT GET SICK!!” This became my motto. 

Well, I got sick. I tried to race anyway but it was horrible. I had the worst race of my life. After the race the Trimble Banner snapped a picture of me crying my eyes out on my dad’s shoulder. The headline ran, “Drew Oakley mourns after finishing poorer than expected.” I was so upset. But I knew what had happened. I had felt it coming on. I felt the anxiety falling over me days before the event actually happened.

Have you ever felt like that? Felt anguish or anxiety coming on even though it may still be far off.

The story of the garden of Gethsemane is a common one this time of year. Recorded Chapter 26 of Matthew, we see our savior, who is normally calm, cool and collected, suddenly faced with something he is actually contemplating passing up.

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39 NIV)

I ask you what was in the cup? What did Jesus see coming upon him as he stared into the cup God had sat before him? The most common answer is sin. Jesus who knew not sin became sin for us. He didn’t know what it was like to sin, yet at this moment our sins, our mistakes came upon Jesus in a radical way. He literally consumed our sin and took it upon himself.

That’s probably true, but what if there was more? It’s pretty self centered if we assume that Jesus was only thinking of us.

What if Jesus looked in the cup and saw not only sin but sacrifice? I am not referring to the typical metaphor of Jesus as the Passover lamb.

No, Jesus looked into the cup and was reminded of Abraham and Isaac. Remember that story? Abraham wanted a son so badly. He prayed for one, day in and day out. Then one day Isaac came along and what did God tell Abraham to do? Take him on the mountain and sacrifice him.

Now granted this story ends well because God stops Abraham just before the death stroke falls. However, this time God would not stop the sacrifice. Jesus knew that He had to die and God had to let Him.

What would that feel like to know you must die no matter how much it will hurt those whom you love? No matter how upset God would become about this miraculous sacrifice, Jesus had to go through with it.

So then the better understanding of this moment may be that even though Jesus did take our sin upon him, the truly startling fact to Him was that the Son in whom God was well pleased would have to die and this would cause God great anguish.

Regardless of what He saw in the cup, we know Jesus drank from it. Our salvation was worth all the anguish Jesus felt coming on.

This should make you feel very loved my friends. God was willing to endure great turmoil so that we could gain eternal life. Jesus was willing to drink from the cup of destruction so that we could be cleansed and made whole. We are loved. Let us never forget.

 

The Rev. Drew Oakley is pastor of the Carrollton United Methodist Church in Carrollton, Ky.