“On Your Mark”
The Gift of Suffering (Chapter 14 V 32-42)
The same happens again (v39), and words fail the disciples (v40), they are not able to keep their eyes open, they are so heavy. Surely we must see something of the devil’s activity in this? This is surely the forces of hell in desperation using every possible means to side-track the Lord at this so crucial moment. In Luke’s account we are told of Jesus sweating great drops of blood, such is his agony of soul, the fear and dread so awesome that he nears cardiac arrest, and then the angels come to minister to him (Luke 22.43-44). It is then that he is able to turn once more to his men who still sleep (v41), well it does not matter now, his agony is past. So often Jesus has said that his hour has not yet come, but now it is here, the betrayal has taken place, the sinful, wicked enemy is on the way. Unlike the disciples Jesus is fully alert and can see what they through sleepy eyes cannot, the approaching transgressors. He is given into their hands, their authority and power, of those that is, who are contrary to God, who are set against God, yet at their very worst, still they do the will of God, even in arresting the Son of Man (Acts 2.23). The strong, victorious, the courageous Jesus commands his men to rise and move forward towards the approaching Judas (v42).
As we move into our Lord’s suffering there must be lots for us to learn. The predominant Christian mood does not give much attention to the subject, but the Bible does. And it is important that we do, because there are some Christians who are suffering in our day, and I do not just mean in terms of overt persecution in foreign lands, I mean in our own back yard. And some of us will have our share in the days ahead. People are born to trouble, assuredly (Job 5.7). Jesus says, “in the world ye shall have tribulation” (John 16:33). Because these things are so, Jesus himself shared in the sufferings of humanity, and even learned obedience through them (Hebrews 5.8). Yes, he even identifies with us here, there is not a stab of pain whether physical or emotional that you can feel, that he does not feel along with you, not one;
“Think not you sigh a sigh;
And your Maker is not by,
Think not you can weep a tear;
And your Maker is not near” (Anon).
To incur suffering for his sake, is a luxury, a treasure, a gift from God (Philippians 1.29). The Cross is more than just a symbol.
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1996)