If anyone ever had a story that deserved to be retold, it was Jesus. And because the miracle of His life has been retold so often, I feel like Jesus must have known He was the main character in the greatest story ever written, must have felt like an actor on a stage with the world looking on. But I wonder if He did.
Jesus knew He would rise from the dead. But as a human, until it really happened, did He truly know what that meant—any more than we do now? His prayer in Gethsemane didn’t sound like it to me. It didn’t sound calm, cool and in control; it didn’t sound like Jesus had life and pain and grief all figured out and down pat. It didn’t sound to me like He felt the crowds of angels watching Him on that long, dark night, or like He saw the faces of all the people whose lives would be changed forever. Or maybe He did see all the onlookers, and maybe their inability to help Him made Him feel even more alone.
Jesus had faith, perfect faith, but that doesn’t mean trust came easily for Him. How could He know what it meant to be human if doubts never threatened to grind Him down, crush Him into oblivion? The greatest faith that’s ever been was a faith of blood, sweat and tears, not of painless, unshakable certainty. I don’t think Jesus walked into His suffering as though it was a dark tunnel with a light at the end. I think He walked into inky darkness so black it felt like a wall. And before it was over, Matthew tells us Jesus felt forsaken even by God.
But still, the light came. As long as it was, as dark as it was, the night ended. Jesus came out on the other side of death. Not unscathed, not without memories of horror. But alive. Alive and victorious, alive in love that looked ahead with hope to a time when all creation would know victory over death.
That hope is what we have to cling to, what we have to offer the world. Hope that outweighs the horror, hope that makes the night a little lighter by giving us strength to believe that the dawn will come and love will triumph, once and for all.
Deeper: “Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. ‘Abba, Father,’ he said, ‘everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will’” (Mark 14:35-36).
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