And just like that we say good-bye to November. Where did it go? It seems just yesterday we were welcoming the frosty mornings and Autumn colors, and today we close the chapter on that month. The Advent season is upon us already. And just around the corner will be the new year with the opportunity to set our hearts and minds on a new spiritual focus for the year. As we closed out October, I invited you to begin praying and seeking God about that. (If you missed that post you can read it by clicking here.)
God keeps bringing a couple of Scripture passages to mind . . . and leading me to a topic for my focus, but I’ll wait until after Advent season to share that with you . . . still seeking Him for confirmation.
Tomorrow, I’ll begin sharing posts with you to prepare our hearts for Advent. This month, most of the posts will be from the Archives as LeRoy and I devote the next three months to writing the book I mentioned to you in this post. Although these posts are from the archives, I hope they’ll not be so familiar to you that it prevents you from being ministered to by the messages. I have a few dog-eared devotionals that I read and re-read every year—they never grow old. And although my feeble attempt at writing could never compare to those beautiful classics, I hope you’ll receive something from the Spirit as you read again these “re-purposed” posts.
Also, I just wanted to give you a heads-up that you can hear us on an interview with “Focus on the Family” tomorrow and Wednesday. I hope you’ll encourage friends, or couples who may be struggling or have lost hope in their marriage, to tune in and listen. You can listen online by going to this link.
May the Spirit unite our hearts in preparation for this holy Advent season as we turn our attention to the wonder of the incarnation of Jesus Christ and the bold rescue of our souls!
I cannot think about the incarnation of Christ and that precious scene of surrender when the young virgin said “Yes” to the assignment that would pierce her soul clean through, without thinking about the greatest surrender that would come as a result of the incarnation. He came as a babe in a lowly stable, but He came with the purpose of securing our rescue—and that would take a bold surrender.
The plan for our rescue didn’t begin when a young virgin was asked to carry her Savior full term. It didn’t begin when the first woman bit deeply into the fresh and forbidden fruit. The plan for our rescue was established before the foundation of the world. But that plan still required the greatest surrender; a surrender that was extremely costly.
We get a small glimpse into the weight of that surrender as the Spirit pulls back the curtain, and allows us to watch the garden scene in the book of Matthew. We enter this garden in the dead of night and watch as the Son of Man returns to His familiar place of prayer—an ancient grove of olive trees, “Gethsemane,” which literally means “oil press.”
This night the Son of Man will be pressed to the supreme place of surrender.
Listen as Jesus confides to His closest friends, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.” (Matt. 26:38)
On this most bitter of nights, we watch Christ struggle with human passions—not sins. Sorrow’s intensity is crushing human frailty. Three times He lifts the same request, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me . . .”
The cup is God’s Old Testament symbol for divine wrath against sin.
Jesus’ agony is evident. Blood droplets pour from His anguished face. His mind isn’t on the mob’s fury. He isn’t cowering in fear of the religious leaders whose henchmen are approaching, or even the physical torments of the cross. No, His sorrow is focused on the cup.
In a few short hours He will bear the full weight of divine wrath against sin. This is the cup that He must drink.
At the cross, the Righteous One who knew no sin would experience the agony of sin being placed upon Himself. He would have the wrath of God poured out on Him. Jesus would bear the guilt and weight of my sin and your sin (Isaiah 53; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 9:28). His Gethsemane statement stands as our greatest example of surrender.
With sweat, tears, and blood freely flowing; He cries, “Father . . . not as I will, but as You will.”
From this garden, the Savior would rise to begin His final journey toward the cross. Sin would hold no power over this second Adam, as He yields to the Father’s will, He reverses the curse brought on by the first Adam.
Jesus’ bold surrender abolished death’s reign.
Revisit this garden often. Revisit it as you celebrate Advent. Revisit it when you see a Nativity scene—fast forward to the garden as you watch the virgin cradle the infant. And consider the surrender of that young mother, who did not yet realize that she would outlive Him, and one day stay by His side all the way to His death. Consider the surrender of the Heavenly Father to release His Son to the cross. Consider the surrender of Jesus to bear the cup of wrath.
Never get over the wonder of redemption’s plan of surrender!
Spend some time in Gethsemane with our Lord. Consider reading Matthew 26:20-50.
Remind yourself of this choice that required such love, such devotion, such surrender.
What area of surrender is God asking of you?
How will you apply this post to your life today?
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