1. The Garden: Agony and Surrender — Matthew 26:38
“Then he said to them, ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.’ ”
Agony and surrender are related. It’s often in the most agonizing moments of life that we’re called to surrender the most. This surrender doesn’t necessarily remove the agony, but it reminds us of a higher love carrying us through it. This is the love of the Father. Like Jesus, we’re asked to enter the agony of our lives, sometimes with bewilderment and questions, but always to deepen our “yes” to the will of the Father. With the unchanging presence of Abba Father as our anchor, we can face this darkness. Our confidence is in the hope that he’ll sustain us through our times of Gethsemane.
Like Jesus, pour out the agony of your heart to your Father. Honestly confess your pain before him. Pray that he’ll give you courage to find his will in the middle of the difficulty.
2. Sorrow — Isaiah 53:3
“He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”
In the midst of sorrow is consolation, in the midst of the darkness is light, in the midst of despair is hope, and in the midst of the army of demons is the consoling angel. The cup of sorrow, inconceivable as it seems, is also the cup of joy. Only when we discover this can we consider drinking it. This odd mixture is fully experienced by Jesus on the cross. Hebrews 12:2 — “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Jesus invites us to enter deeply into our personal sorrow, as well as the sorrow of the world. Only by doing this can joy be more than phony emotionalism or sentimentality. What sorrows, individual and worldwide, is God asking you to enter?
3. Supply — John 15:5
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
All of life needs supply. Without supply, life shrivels and eventually dies. With it, life flourishes. Supply normally comes from a source that’s beyond. Yet the supply can only nourish the needy thing (or person) if it’s in close proximity. Here’s the paradox of supply: It comes from beyond the need yet must be intimately connected to it. This is the truth of our life in Christ. His work on the cross is beyond any human understanding or doing. Yet that work is received through an intimate, ongoing relationship. Through the cross, and Christ crucified, we’ve been given the lifeblood of God. His life is our supply to yield fruit.
Thank Jesus for this supply. Ask for the grace to see and connect more fully to it. Cultivate an appreciative expectation that fruit will come as a result.
4. Making All Things New — Ephesians 1:7, 8
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.”
The sacrifice of Jesus Christ brought about redemption. The cross set in motion a work that continues to this day. Redemption is the restoration of creation to a state better than its original. Redemption is both complete and ongoing. God invites us to this paradoxical process, but he won’t force us. The great mandate of the gospel is to become what you already are. We’re in Christ but must set our affections and heart on him. This “already, not yet” tension is part of how God continues the process of redemption and transformation. The finished work of the Cross enables the ongoing work of transformation.
We praise your name, living Christ, for you have already, yet continue to, redeem us. You will complete the work you’ve begun.
5. The Gift — John 14:16-17
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever — the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.”
The sacrifice of Christ birthed a new relationship with the Spirit of God. The Spirit now dwells in the hearts of all those who say yes to God. This intimate dwelling enables us to know Jesus in our spirits. We can know God at the core of our being. This dwelling also energizes us to live faithfully the call of God on our lives. Imagine your life without the potency of the Spirit. Thank Jesus for the sacrifice that makes this potent, intimate relationship possible.
Ask the Spirit of God to lead you into the way, truth, and life found in Jesus. Pray for more sensitivity to the Spirit as he leads you to follow Jesus more faithfully.