Thursday, April 2, 2015

Day 6: Easter Week Devotional - The shadow of death

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death; I will fear no evil for thou art with me." Psalm 23:4

Matthew 26:36-41

Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them,“Sit here while I go over there and pray.”  He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled.  Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” 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.”Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter.  “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”  

Have you ever walked through something in your life and you thought you would not survive?  
I don't mean physically.  I mean in your soul.  Has there been a point in your life where you thought you would just rather die than go on?
Maybe it is around the holidays with your family and knowing that there is going to be that person there.  It takes every ounce of your energy to stay composed and not completely lose it.  Or maybe it is at work.  You were asked to move into a position that helped the company but it really makes you feel like you have no value . . . you feel trapped because there is nowhere else to turn.  Or maybe it was the day you came home to find that the relationship was over.  Moving on feels impossible.  Raising the kids by yourself feels insurmountable.  Dying would be easier than what you are about to face.
This is exactly the position that Jesus finds Himself in late Thursday night.  See, we sometimes think that Jesus always had a Mona-Lisa smile on His face.  Unfazed by events.  The Son of God - walking on water to meet us in the midst of our problems.
We tend to forget that He was also plenty human.
Imagine the difficulty of Jesus' last day on Earth.  More than the beatings, the mockery, the crucifixion . . . imagine coming face-to-face with your betrayer.  The Gospel of John records Jesus looking right at Judas and telling him to do what he needs to do quickly.  John adds that as soon as Judas left, "it was night."  Darkness now takes center stage.  Jesus goes to a garden and pray to God and for the first time we see there is no answer from His Father. 
God 'hands over' His son to be tortured and killed and it all starts in the garden of Gethsemane.
Or perhaps even on the path to Gethsemane.

The path to the garden where Jesus is going takes Him through the valley of Kidron.  In order to get there He had to cross a stream - the Brook of Kidron.  On this night, the Brook of Kidron would have been red with blood.  Because it was Passover, almost 250,000 lambs were slaughtered for the festival.  There was so much blood it spilled over into the brooks and streams.

So think of the irony.  The "lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world" is now crossing a stream filled with the blood of lambs being readied for the Passover.  
Does Jesus stop and look at the bloody stream as He makes His way to the garden where He is about to be betrayed?  

We know that Jesus asked God if there might be another way . . . but was there a moment in His heart where He just wished for it all to be over?  Maybe.  We aren't privy to His most fragile thoughts, one day we might be.  For now all we know is what He did - He crossed the stream and followed His Father.

Those footsteps are hard to find sometimes . . . but it is so good knowing that He has walked where we walk now.  When life is so hard we just want to give up, it is so good knowing that He has walked this path before and showed us what real life is.

Real life is not giving up.  Real life is giving it over to God.  We walk through the valley and follow His footsteps.  Jesus had no footsteps to walk in because He was alone.  But because He walked that path we never have to be alone.  He was acquainted with sorrow so that we can have someone to walk through the sorrow with us.  We have footsteps that we can follow . . . in obedience to God.

Though you have to go through a hard journey right now, you have a Savior that loved you.  He loved you enough to die in your place . . . so don't you think that means that He would love to deliver you from whatever it is that seems to be crushing you right now?  It is tempting to think that God doesn't care.  He is not indifferent.  Jesus, of all people, knows that walking through the valley is so hard, that is why though He may not be delivering you, He is definitely walking with you through it.  Remember, there is a Sunday morning at the end of it.  Allow Christ to go through this with you.  Walk through this difficult time right now whispering, "your will be done."

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