Today being Good Friday, we’ll look upon Jesus’ suffering, because the punishment that was upon him brings us peace, and by his wounds we are healed, Isaiah 53:5.
One of the most beautiful promises Jesus brings us is a promise to renew our mind, to calm, soothe, and still our emotions. Jesus puts us back in our right mind. It is a continual renewal of thoughts that he promises. It is experienced through remaining with Him. But everything is not always up and to the right as Christians. We struggle. It’s a clue indicating our critical need to deepen in relationship with Jesus. In Western culture, anxiety was at epidemic proportions prior to the pandemic, so what now? Of course, it has increased. No need to quote statistics, we are living it out, we know anxiety has increased.
Does Jesus care? Does He understand the anxiety that overwhelms? Yes, he does and we find clues of his extreme mental and emotional distress when we read the accounts of Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane before he goes to the cross. The book of Mark and Matthew inform us that Jesus admits to his disciples that his soul is overwhelmed to the point of death. The book of Mark tells us that he fell to the ground and prayed. He didn’t kneel and pray, he fell to the ground. Both Mark and Matthew tell us he agonized for a long time in prayer, praying 3 different times, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” The book of Luke reveals that he was sweating profusely in this agonizing time of prayer, and was so disturbed within, it triggered a rare physiological condition where he sweat blood. The condition is called hematidrosis and is extremely rare, with only a handful of documented cases. All who experienced it were victims of extreme mental and emotional trauma and terrifying violence.
Piece all those Gospel clues together. Jesus falls to the ground, a sign of physical weakness from overwhelming internal turmoil. He agonizes in prayer 3 different times through the night. He is not getting a good night’s sleep before going to the cross. He is running on no sleep. And though an angel comes to strengthen him, Luke records that after, he was still in anguish, Luke 22:44. Jesus kept praying, and doing so even more earnestly. In this state, he was sweating profusely, his sweat mixed with drops of blood, the drops falling to the ground.
When you piece the Gospel accounts together, can you see how clear it is that Jesus was experiencing mental and emotional distress at a level no one else ever will? Your worst panic attack? Your soul crushing depression? Jesus knows. He went there. He bore the burden. He experienced it all. He carried the weight of it all upon Himself and took all human brokenness, all sin, all shame, all sickness to the cross.
In the midst of this distress, Jesus gives his disciples a prayer challenge, “Could you not keep watch for one hour?" He was worried for them, urging his disciples to watch and pray so they would not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. He knew the spiritual traps coming to test Peter. He had just told Simon Peter after the Passover meal, "Satan has asked to sift you like wheat", Luke 22:31.
Peter's saving grace was that Jesus prayed for Peter's faith not to fail, Luke 22:32. Praise God today that He is your continual intercessor...
Hebrews 7:25- "Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them."
Are you sleeping? Tell God, confess your weaknesses. Wait in the mercy of His presence. Call on help from the Holy Spirit if you do not know what to pray, Romans 8:26-27.
Peter and the other disciples slept despite the warnings. And the consequences are immediately obvious. Peter responds in the flesh at the first temptation, acting violently, pulling his sword and cutting off the ear of the high priest’s servant who come to seize Jesus, Mark 14:47. Jesus however responds in the Spirit, taking the man’s ear and putting it back on his head, fully restoring his ear, Luke 22:51.
Flesh versus Spirit! What a difference in terms of outcome, Romans 8:6!
Let the example of Jesus urging his disciples to watch and pray challenge you to take some quiet time. Assess. What is the state of your walk with Jesus today? Are you prayed up? Are you in the flesh or in the Spirit? Take all anxiety and internal upset to Jesus to be strengthened by Him. He understands your anxiety. He's endured on your behalf. He promises to comfort you. Practice staying longer in His presence, resting under the covering of His precious blood shed on the cross. Please visit our podcast page to find some inspiration to linger longer with God. Amen.
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Prayer is Gift!
Hi my name is Gina; and I'm the founder of the ministry. My 25 year journey with God has been centered on immersing myself in the safe relationship God offers, learning about the power of surrender, and praying for His life in greater measure!