THE NIGHT BEFORE…
What was the agonizing of Gethsemané? Was it a cosmic fight between evil and good? Was it the place of ultimate intercession for the lost? I suppose we can ascribe many different purposes from out of the Garden of Gethsemané. I went into my prayer closet this morning with no specific agenda…just to sit with Him. A cry came from my heart…from the deeps. Deep calling unto deep.
This was my prayer:
“Oh my God, save me from unreality. Save me from superfluity, save me from idle words spoken or written. Save me from a religious spirit that boldly proclaims things, but I lack the power. Save me from thinking I am strong. Save me from thinking I can stand. Save me from myself. Save me from thinking I am strong! Save me from deception. Save me! Hear my prayer when I cry unto you with my voice, have mercy also upon me, answer my prayer! Save me Father, I am weak!”
This was born out of the knowledge of the hour we are in. I have not stopped agonizing in spirit since three hours ago, and still the tears are coming down my face as I agonize in spirit. I was thinking of the time before us and that sometimes truth is too big for us to take in. Too big and that we somehow are numbed into shock, and therefore in order to cope, we will succumb to agreeing and acknowledging to truth, but not reality. Even though truth is reality, reality is something we have to “step” into for a lack of a better word. I believe such was the case with our Savior when He stepped into the garden of Gethsemané that night…He was stepping into reality. And reality strips you of all pretense and words of grandeur. It causes you to look into a mirror where you no longer can deny what you see or what you are. And I believe that in the Garden that was the reality that our Lord and Savior stepped into. It was an agonizing of another kind where He was crying out to God, His Father, in utter weakness. Baptized in weakness.
This morning Father reminded me of Jacob who were agonizing (agonizing means contesting as well) with the Lord and said he would not let Him go unless He blesses Him and gives him a new name. He too found himself on a rock, just as Jesus, the God of Jacob found himself on a rock in the garden, crying out to His Father that He would not leaven Him until…
Jacob was touched in his hip socket, that very place of strength and from that time on walked with a limp. Wherever he went from there on, he was recognized by that limp. By that particular walk in weakness that somehow God ordained as the transaction for His blessing. As to say, when you enter and walk in weakness, I will bless you and give you a new name. We are told that at the end of the age there will be those servants who will receive His Name upon their foreheads. Once again, I cannot help but see the One who has gone before us. Not in strength, but in weakness. As a lamb led to the slaughter. Not in strength, not in authority, not in courage or any of those things we ascribe to in being a follower of Christ. We are willing to associate with this weakness, but to be baptized in it? Well, that is a whole different story. And yet, when we see Him in the garden, we see a man utterly destitute of all strength, baptized in weakness crying out to His Father to deliver Him. He was not ignorant of what was awaiting Him. He lived in Jerusalem and grew up as a tender plant before the Father, even in Jerusalem. He saw the yearly crucifixions and every time He saw it, Isaiah 53 reverberated in the depths of His being. The cross. The full expression of God’s love for mankind as well as the full expression of God’s wrath on sin. And He chose the weakness of a man, through the Son of Man, to be that expression. He chose vessels of weakness to be the expression of His manifold wisdom and strength. This weakness is often overshadowed by the words “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do!” and we see a strong Christ suffering for mankind. But the reality is that His strength, just like Jacob, was born out of the weakness in which He was agonizing the night before. There the transaction took place of an ultimate kind.
We desire the baptizing of His Spirit and so we should. But unless we are baptized in weakness, not just a sprinkling of water, but an immersion, how then can we expect that we will be given the Baptism of the Spirit in fire, that is to say in His love and power? For the purpose of this baptism of fire, is no different that the purpose that is was for Christ…to give His life. The truth is that He as a man would not have been able to give His life, unless He allowed the Spirit to draw Him in that garden and immerse Him… immerse Him into death. Into reality.
We are bold in our proclamations in saying that we will die for Christ, just like Peter did. This too was the turning point for Peter…reality. We are all Peters. Will we die for our enemy as He did for us. Will we willingly lay down our own lives, as He said in John 10? He says that no one has greater love than he who lays down his life for his friends. This all speaks of a voluntary act. And the reality is that in the account of the Garden we do not hear of Jesus experiencing a particular baptism of the Spirit to lay His life down. What we do hear is…Nevertheless. That nevertheless is the bridge between His will and His Father’s will. His will was clear…”I would rather this cup pass by Me”. He wasn’t faking it…reality stared Him in the face and in the weakness of man, that is to say the flesh, He said, “Nevertheless”.
The truth is that the very first blood was not extracted from out of the cruelty of the hands of man, but it was extruded from Him…given, not taken. It was in the garden where He made that choice of “nevertheless” that He laid His life down and the cross was the full expression thereof. When we think of giving our lives to Him our eyes are fixed on that moment when the blade will come down, or when we are beaten to death or whatever other means. However, the place of death is in your own personal Gethsemané, and I believe it is a place He will draw you to, to be baptized in weakness. The divine exchange is made now, not then. Just as with Jesus. This baptism was not His first moment of being confronted with the reality of the frailness of man, who is given to deception, given to live in unreality and given to pride. These and so much more, as the Son of Man and as the Patterned Son, was His constant assault as the enemy was fully committed to cause Him to sin. But Jesus said, “satan has nothing in me”. Our idyllic view of Christ is strength, but we are not privy to those early morning communion He had with His Father as, during which He often went to be alone with Him. We read in scripture that every day was a display of miracles and wonders as it followed Him everywhere. But there was a transaction every day, until the last and final transaction in the garden He so often found Himself in. The transaction He made with His Father in Gethsemané.
We are presently in the “night before”, or the crucifixion. Will we be able to lay our lives down for others in strength or in weakness? I am not writing this as someone who has attained to this, but I am at this time, this hour aware how the Church in great urgency wants to stand up for her rights. I am aware of the posture of the One who knew His hour has come, and that He did not stand up, but went to the garden. Where will you find yourself in this hour? Will He find you there in the garden where He can baptize you in weakness, so that He may give you the strength to lay your life down? There is no other way you will be able to do it, for mere resolve and bold words will fall to the ground the moment you are confronted with your weakness outside of the Garden. You will have to lay your life down there before you go to the cross. This is what He did. The wisdom of God is foolishness to the wise. But He was silent before His accusers. He did not stand up for His rights. Maybe some of His disciples thought at that moment, “Why does He not say anything? Why is He keeping silent? Surely He can just call on the Father to send His angels? What a disappointment! Maybe He isn’t whom He says He is, because He is so weak…so pathetic.”
I realize that there is a time for everything and we see Paul confronting those in Ephesus with their superstition and telling them who the unknown God is they are worshipping. We see him confronting the girl proclaiming that they are the Servants of the Living God, and many more. He is indeed a type and shadow of the Church to come that will operate in Apostolic Authority. But we have to remember, that this is the same man that said the following:
2 Corinthians 8 - 12
8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
The message is clear in this particular scripture, however I want to bring your attention to the fact that three times he asked the Lord to allow this particular “ailment” to depart from him. In the same way, our Savior prayed three times in the garden. Three times He went to his disciples and said that they are to watch and pray. Three times He agonized for three groups…the Bride, the Left Behind and Judah. For the Bride it was for those who would stay behind, whom He knew would in the end lay their lives down, except John. He took upon Him the agonizing of our weakness as well in those moments.
I have never experienced in all my walk with the Father what I have experienced this morning, and I am by no means under the impression that it is finished. For just like Jacob, I will not let Him go until He blesses me. Not in arrogance, but in utter weakness. Reality has set in…I cannot. And if He does not touch my hip, that place of strength which I am bound to utilize in standing up in His Name, how then can He bless me if I am actually still leaning on the flesh? He has to touch me in that place of strength, so that I can then truly say, “With man it is impossible, but with God, all things are possible”.
Are you in the garden of your own personal Gethsemané in the night before? The hour has come when the “sons of God” will be betrayed and delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified…(Luke 24: 7)
May we be found in the Garden in the night before.
7 Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;
Hebrews 12: 2 - 4
2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.