READ: 1 Samuel 19-21, Psalm 87, John 19, Philippians 2
GETHSEMANE, GABBATHA, GOLGOTHA
Gethsemane: What is your cup?
Jesus did team meetings and He often did them at Gethsemane Gardens – Jesus was a fan of the outdoors. The secret police crash the meeting, and Jesus “knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward” (John 18:4), asking them what they wanted. In one of the more comical of the passion incidents, Jesus identifies Himself and the scary bad guys collapse on the ground in a heap. I can picture the clatter of dropped shields and swords. The bravest of the bunch seems to be Peter who ambitiously hacks off an ear, only to be restrained by Jesus. “Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given me?” Jesus asks (v. 11).
We all have a cup to drink; let us step forward to drink it and may the calm resolve with which we swallow our suffering point directly to Jesus. Suffering comes in many forms and the most common are secret anguishes or private pains that no one will ever know about. Whatever your cup of suffering, step forward and drink it. It has been given to you by the Father for some (perhaps as yet unrevealed) magnification of His name.
Gabbatha: Who is your Caesar?
Jesus is taken before Pilate who is confused as to who is judge and ruler. Pilate finds no fault in Jesus (John 19:4), never realizing that it is not Jesus who is really on trial. The fool judges God and looks the worse for it. The people also err saying “He ought to die” (v. 7)! They are ironically right in their wrongness – the Prince of Life did have to die that they might live, but it was not what He deserved. The fools got one thing right, however, a central point that sages of our day tend to avoid: Jesus did claim to be God (v. 7) and it was for this claim He was crucified.
A final and enduring folly is to forget who really holds the power. Pilate only had power because it was given to him by God. Christians should not forget that God (in His sovereign wisdom) empowers evil rulers for His purposes. So passionate in their hatred of Jesus as God, the Jews override their own beliefs and state, “We have no king but Caesar.” There is only one who sits on the eternal judgment seat and we will be condemned or rewarded based solely on whether we bowed the knee and confessed with the tongue that Jesus Christ is God.
Golgotha: Where is your Center?
“They crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center” (John 19:18). In the call to a crucified life there is the sinister danger of making ourselves the center of our own crucifixion. Even in our death, even in our suffering, even in our sacrifice, in all things most especially dying to self, Jesus must be the center. It is all too common to suffer for the attention it draws us. Jesus must be the center of our demise. If we are the center we are not dying – no matter how much pain we are in. True death to self results in the disappearance of the vessel and the illumination of the treasure within.
We have to die to Live Dead. If our identity comes from pioneer mission, risk for God, the respect and applause of supporters who are impressed with our valiant deeds, then we have put ourselves in the center of Calvary and we have blasphemed. Jesus has to be the center, not just in our living, but also in our dying.