We do not know when Jesus was born, but we do know when He died. It’s incredible that we can look back through time to the very week Jesus was crucified. Much has been written about Thursday of Holy Week, but for this short devotion, I want to focus on choosing.
Jesus had a choice. From a very young age, He knew what His mission was about; and, in a way, every day was a choice for Christ. Every day He determined to live another day in service to His Father, from whom He drew the power to do so. That can be our experience, too.
But Thursday of Holy Week was Christ’s last chance to opt out of The Plan; and He wrestled with His own survival instincts in the Garden of Gethsemane.
We sometimes fail to realize that Jesus did not simply die from the physical abuse and torture of a Roman crucifixion. Jesus died from the weight of sin. The One who had been in the bosom of the Father, the One who had said repeatedly, “My Father and I are one,” was being pulled away from His Father by the sins of the world. That’s the way sin is: It separates us from the Father’s love and presence.
The Garden of Gethsemane was an ancient olive orchard, and there was an olive press there: The word ‘Gethsemane’ means “the place for pressing oils.” Olive oil was produced by lowering a huge stone weight onto crushed olives and collecting the oil that was squeezed out. Luke describes Jesus in agony, sweating great drops of blood. Like the olives of that orchard, He was being crushed, crushed by the weight of sin.
Three times Jesus begged His Father for an alternative to what He knew lay before Him. But, praise God, Jesus ended each prayer with, “but not my will but thine.” Jesus might have died right there among the olive trees had not God sent an angel to encourage and strengthen Him. (Luke 22)
And then the crowd came, noisy and menacing. The disciples were no longer sleepy: This was an emergency! They were ready to fight, but Jesus stood calmly, asking “Whom seek ye?” “Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. Jesus said, “I am He.” And the mob fell backward onto the ground. (John 18) The Great I AM was being arrested in a dark garden. Jesus told His excited disiples, “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and He shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26)
Yes, Jesus made a choice that night that has changed my life.
I can’t resist that kind of love. Can you?