Throughout the Bible, we are encouraged to have no fear. God wants us to have faith, not fear. He wants us to trust that even in the scariest of situations, He is with us and He has a plan for whatever may come to pass. Although this encouragement exists in God’s word, it is rare for a human being to be 100% fearless. Even Jesus, in His last moments, cried out to His Father saying, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42 NIV). Was Jesus afraid? Even though He knew His purpose and His power; could the Son of God have been fearful of what He was about to endure? I had never considered the notion that Jesus, the man, could have felt fear. But as I was watching The Passion of the Christ this morning, it occurred to me that it wouldn’t have been out of the question for Him to have had a moment of uncertainty about what He was preparing to do. The cruelty of the people who beat Him so severely before the crucifixion, surely would have overwhelmed any man. The hatred that He encountered as someone who was here to be a force of light had to have hurt Him deeply. Even as the Son of God, would He not have felt sadness and trepidation at the situation in which He found Himself?
I don’t ask these questions out of some naive or immature understanding of Christ’s story. I ask them because when I saw Him weeping in the garden, begging His Father to “take this cup,” the full impact of how alone He must have felt at the moment He was crucified brought tears to my eyes. Here was this man, this Jesus, caught up in so much chaos and turmoil, allowing these people to hurt Him physically, emotionally, and psychologically, all for the sake of fulfilling His purpose. He went forward on His journey knowing the entire time that He had agreed to be tortured and ultimately killed to save a people who didn’t believe and didn’t care. And here I sit, being afraid to step out and upset a few people in the name of bringing the love of Christ into the lives of those who do not yet know Him or those who have misunderstood Him. How can I be fearful when my God has shown me through what Jesus endured that His purpose for me far exceeds the power of those who would try to prevent me from walking my path? Who am I to shrink back?
As I watch Mary watching Jesus being beaten by the guards, I think about my own child. Could I have stood in Mary’s place? Could I have watched my child, even as a grown adult, go through what Jesus went through? There is absolutely no way. She asks, “Where, when, how will you let yourself be delivered from this?” And all she can do is stand there and watch Him being hurt so badly. He could not and He would not allow Himself to be removed from this place until He had done what He’d come here to do. Although He asked His Father for relief, He would not have given up on His mission. Although He suffered pain, He would not have decided to go another way. He had His purpose here and we are reminded today, Easter Sunday, that this man…this Jesus…endured much so that we could be free. And sadly, so many of us choose to stay in bondage to our sins. So many of us still choose to allow ourselves to be bullied into silence or darkness by those who prefer to perpetuate the cruelty displayed by the people who crucified Him. Somehow, we didn’t get the right message from His death. Somehow, there are some out there who believe that His death wasn’t a big deal. Somehow, there are people who can see the crucifixion depicted in a film or read about it in the Bible or in another story and still not understand the weight of His sacrifice. What that man went through for us should make your heart heavy. What He suffered should bring tears to your eyes. And then, it should instill a desire in your heart to do all that you can to make sure that no one takes His love for granted.
God didn’t give us this life so that we could thumb our noses at Him and tell Him what we think is best. He gave us this life so that we could be extensions of Him in this universe. We are to love as He did and to help others understand how to love even when life has been difficult. Even when life has demanded that we hate. We are called to love. And while we may envision our sacrifices to be justification for not loving, we must never forget the man who gave it all for us. Our trials here are nothing in comparison to what He suffered for our sins. Even though we can never repay Him, we should always be working to show Him that His sacrifice wasn’t in vain. My life hasn’t measured up, even in times when I thought I was doing great things as a Christian. I still have not stepped up in the way that I need to step up and I will continue to work toward fulfilling the purpose that God has set for me. The cup that I am drinking from is far less bitter than His and I have no good reason to set it aside just so that I can feel more comfortable here.
I pray that you have a blessed Easter and that you continue on your journey with the intent of always showing Him how much His love means to you.