Sunday, June 10, 2012

Living In Babylon Part 2

Even Jesus knows what it’s like to feel overwhelmed. He knew what was going to happen and when it was going to happen to Him but it didn’t stop Him from feeling the anguish of knowing what He was going to face. In the Garden of Gethsemane He was ‘sorrowful and troubled’. We begin reading in Matthew 26: 36
36 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.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
Have you ever felt so overwhelmed with sorrow that you thought you’d die? Jesus did too. He understands. I had always pictured Jesus going off to pray in a calm way, finding a convenient rock to lean on and kneeling down to pray, but that’s not how it happened. Remember He was overwhelmed with sorrow.
39 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.”
Even Jesus asked the Father to get Him out of the situation. But He accepted that it was up to the Father. He prayed not my will but yours be done.  That’s how we must pray because God can bring good even out of the darkest situations. We may not see any good in the Babylon that we’re in and we may not see any end in sight but God does. He knows when or if we will get out of it and He knows what good will be brought about because of it. But it’s okay for us to keep on praying while we are in the situation that we are in.
42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”
43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.
Jesus prayed for His situation three times yet He was willing to see God’s will done more than His own. He trusted the Father. Since only God, the Father, knows the beginning from the ending in our lives we need to trust that His ways are higher than our ways and that He may not take us out of our Babylon but He will certainly be with us through it.
Sometimes we feel like God isn’t there. We feel forsaken like Jesus did when He hung on the cross. In Matthew 27:46 Jesus cries out to the Father ‘My God, My God why have You forsaken me?’. Some scholars have taught that God actually did forsake Jesus in His time of suffering but I don’t believe He did. I believe that because Jesus was not only fully God but also fully human that He had human feelings too. I believe He felt like God had forsaken Him but that God was with Him all the time.
To be forsaken means to be ‘completely deserted, helpless; abandoned’. There are times when we feel like we are forsaken by God, Jesus did. But we don’t walk by sight or by feelings, we walk by faith and sometimes that faith is just putting one foot in front of the other and doing the things we know to do and that need to be done.
When we are in our Babylon, we need to keep on living. When a family is facing a hardship the mother doesn’t have the luxury of falling apart. She needs to put her personal feelings aside and still take care of the children and see to their needs. Jesus taught us this by example when He was on the cross. He could have been selfish and not worried about everyone around Him but that wasn’t His way or the example He wanted to leave.
Jesus made seven final statements during his last hours on the cross. These seven statements show His divinity as well as His humanity. We’re going to look at four of these statements and see what He said and why what He said is so important to us so many years later. He was, even at the end, fully God and fully man.

1) Jesus Speaks to the Father

Luke 23:34 
Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." 
In the midst of his excruciating suffering, the heart of Jesus was focused on others rather than himself. Here we see the nature of his love—unconditional and divine. He knew that His tormenters didn’t know the whole story. They didn’t know who He was even though He had told them so many times. He didn’t want the Father to hold this sin against them.
When we are in a Babylon situation, blame only makes matters worse and blame never changes anything. Blame keeps us in misery but forgiveness gives us freedom. Unforgiveness and blame are heavy burdens to bear. Jesus taught us by example to forgive. It’s easy to focus on ourselves when life is not going the way we wish it was but Jesus taught us by example that we need to shift our focus off ourselves and take care of others around us.

2) Jesus Speaks to the Criminal on the Cross

Luke 23:43 
"I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise." 
One of the criminals who was crucified with Christ, had recognized who Jesus was and expressed faith in Him as Savior. Here we see grace poured out through faith, as Jesus assured the dying man of his forgiveness and eternal salvation. We need to practice showing grace.
In the Bible, grace and mercy are like two heads of the same coin. Mercy is God withholding judgment or evil that I deserve; grace is God giving me blessing or good that I do not deserve.
Do we show grace to those who have wronged us? Do we seek to bless them or do good to them even though they don’t deserve it? If we will follow Christ’s example and show grace even to those who have hurt us, we will prosper in our Babylon. It’s not easy but it is God’s way and His ways will bring us blessings.

3) Jesus Speaks to Mary and John

John 19:26-27 
When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, "Dear woman, here is your son," and to the disciple, "Here is your mother."
Jesus, looking down from the cross, was still filled with the concerns of a son for the earthly needs of his mother. None of his brothers were there to care for her, so he gave this task to John. Jesus had lived at home until He was thirty. Tradition tells us that Joseph had probably died when Jesus was around thirteen so being the eldest it fell to Him to care for His mother. He could have been out ministering but He chose to do what needed to be done.

Even when He was dying He was still taking care of His mother. He gave her care over to John. When we find ourselves in our Babylon, a place that we’d rather not be, we still need to take care of our loved ones. We still need to do what needs to be done. Yes, Jesus could have been silent on the cross. Who could blame Him after all He had been through if He had been withdrawn? But even to the end, even in His suffering and His pain, He reached out to others.

Post a Comment