Jesus submitted to death for our sake

04/22/2014 4:00 PM

04/22/2014 7:31 PM

DEAR BILLY GRAHAM: I’ve always been puzzled by a prayer of Jesus just before his arrest. From what I’ve heard, it almost sounds like he didn’t want to die, and was even asking God to stop what was about to happen. Is this true? — A.M.


You’re referring to Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, a secluded area just outside the city of Jerusalem. He took three of his closest disciples with him, who fell asleep while he struggled in prayer (an illustration, I’m afraid, of their spiritual dullness — and ours).

In his prayer, Jesus looked deeply into the “cup” he was about to drink — that is, the experience he was about to undergo. What did he see in that symbolic “cup”? He saw far more than the physical suffering he was about to face — terrible as that would be.

Instead, he saw the sins of the entire human race, and by accepting the “cup” He would be taking upon himself God’s judgment for those sins. He was without sin, but now he was about to take upon himself the terrors of death and hell for us.

No wonder Christ asked God if there were any other way our salvation could be won! No wonder he prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me” (Matthew 26:39). He knew the physical agony of the cross would be nothing compared to the spiritual agony he would experience, bearing the punishment for our sins.

But Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane didn’t end there! Instead, he submitted completely to the will of his father, knowing there was no other way our salvation could be won. Don’t ever take lightly what Jesus Christ did for you. He gave his life for you — and may you give your life to him in return.

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