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A CLOSER LOOK
HOMEPAGE


BIBLE PASSAGES
MATTHEW 17 (JESUS AND THE TAX)
ROMANS 13:1-5 THE POWER OF THE STATE
MATTHEW 22... JESUS AND TAX TO CAESAR


BIBLE TOPICS
DID JESUS FEAR THE CROSS?
OUR ROCK... JESUS OR PETER
BIBLICAL BASIS FOR LEADERSHIP


CHRISTIAN LIVING
WIVES AND MOTHERS... THEIR HIGH CALLING
DRAW THE LINE




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A CLOSER LOOK
DID JESUS FEAR THE CROSS?

JESUS DID NOT FEAR THE CROSS

A COMMON MISCONCEPTION

It is not unusual to hear people say that Jesus was fearing the cross and was looking for an escape from it. I can hear some saying even now, "I wouldn't say He was trying to ESCAPE THE CROSS."

Nonetheless, if He was asking for the cross to pass from Him, He was seeking to ESCAPE THE CROSS. It is unbelievable how many think His prayer in the garden of Gethsemane was a plea for deliverance from His coming death on the Cross. Remember He prayed,

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"...O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt"
(Matthew 26:39).
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It is true that Jesus had referred to His coming death on the Cross as a "cup." The Cross was the death which the Father was going to require Jesus to drink. However, while Jesus was in the garden, He faced another cup of death, and that is the cup He was wanting to pass from Him. We will come back to this shortly.

Though there are many who believe and teach that Jesus was asking to be delivered from the cross, they do not build their belief on Scripture. They have been told by other learned and even godly men that Jesus was wanting to avoid the cross. I believe that part of this error arises from an exaggerated view of Jesus' human nature and a diminished view of Jesus' holy resolve to obey the Father.

JESUS ALWAYS EMBRACED THE CROSS

The Scripture record is clear and replete in Its declaration of Jesus constant and continued commitment to obey the Father fully in going to the cross. Though He was as human as any man who ever lived, He never allowed the limitations of His human nature interfere with His responsibilities to the Father. Through this we are given an example to follow.

The death of Jesus has always been central to the message of God and His love for mankind. But the death of Jesus was also sought after by the father of lies, satan. Everything in the Old Testament pointed forward to the time when the Son of God would die for the sins of the world. All of the prophesies, ceremonies and laws were looking forward to the death of Jesus. The Father's plan from before the foundation of the world was for His Son to die on the cross for the sins of the world. For without His death on the cross, there would be no resurrection from the dead and without the resurrection there would be no salvation. On the other hand, satan has always wanted the Son of God to die anywhere else but the cross. If Jesus made it to the cross and died as a sacrifice for sins and a substitute for mankind, then satan's reign of terror would be terminated. That is why Jesus would cry out "IT IS FINISHED" when He was about to die on the cross.

JESUS LIVED IN THE SHADOW OF THE CROSS

Jesus was not a stranger to death in His earthly life and ministry. It is reasonable to believe that before He was born, satan would have tried to tempt Mary to abort the birth. After all, she was a young virgin and had never had sexual relations, yet she was expecting. What would her parents think, her relatives, her friends, her neighbors and especially the man to whom she was to be married. Wouldn't it have been easier for her to "terminate her pregnancy?" Because she was unmarried and because her husband-to-be was not the father of the Child she carried, she could have been executed for her supposed moral misconduct.

His Birth

When word of Jesus' birth was made known to king Herod, satan moved Herod to a vile act of infanticide. In order to insure the death of the baby Jesus, soldiers were sent to kill all the male children under two years of age in the small community of Bethlehem. However, God warned Joseph about the plan of Herod in a dream and Joseph led Mary and Jesus to safety. Other innocent children died that night because satan had mobilized the king to kill the infant Jesus.

His Temptation

Satan himself tried to get Jesus to kill Himself when he tempted Him to jump off of the pinnacle of the temple. Though Jesus defeated satan at each point of attack for 40 days, Jesus was left tired and weak. The angels came to Him and ministered to Him after His ordeal. We do not know to what extent Jesus had suffered in this battle with satan.

His Ministry Years

Throughout Jesus' earthly ministry, men would become enraged and seek to kill Him but He would escape. Jesus constantly told the disciples that He must go to the cross. Jesus always lived in the shadow of the cross. He often said that He had come to this world "for this cause." Jesus did not shirk His purpose. The closer He got to the day of His death the more animated He was in fulfilling it. As Jesus saw that the time had come for Him to be offered up, He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem.

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Jesus had a date with destiny.
He had a rendezvous with death.
He would not be denied The Cross.
Till He breathed His dying breath.
(D.L.G.)
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Destined For The Cross

Jesus was born to die. Jesus was born to die for the sins of the world. Jesus was born to die on the cross. His death on the cross would bring forgiveness to mankind. Death on the cross would give victory to God's grace. Death on the cross would give glory to His Name. Satan wanted Jesus to die, but he did not want Him to die on the cross.

Satan's Final Assault Before The Cross

The time of Christ's death on the cross was drawing near. Satan had to do something quickly.

Satan launched an attack on Jesus while He was in the garden praying. It was probably something like the attack He suffered in the wilderness during His 40 days of temptation. Though we do not understand it fully, satan's attack on Jesus was total. Jesus, the Eternal Son of God was facing His own death. Jesus, the Holy One of God was about to take upon Himself the sins of the world. Jesus, God in the flesh Who had always been One with the Father was going to be separated from Him and cry out,

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"...My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"
(Matthew 27:46)
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Yes Jesus was facing more pressure than we can even imagine.

But Jesus was involved in an actual battle with satan. Remember, when He did battle in the wilderness He suffered physically. Angels had to come and minister to Him.

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"Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.
And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy"
(Matthew 26:36-37)
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Whatever this sorrow involved was great, and it was developing into a great heaviness, the word for the most severe of depressions.We cannot say with unrestrained certainty what the cup was which Jesus sought to be delivered from because the Scriptures do not tell us. We can be certain that there was no danger of Jesus backing out of His appointment with the cross.

He asked the disciples to pray for Him. He sought their support three separate times during this spiritual conflict but He did not get it. Satan's attack on Christ was so vehement that He thought He would die.

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"Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me"
(Matthew 26:38)
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A Spiritual Battle

Some would have us believe that Jesus was just using a figure of speech or an hyperbole. They would say He was not literally dying from this sorrow and grief which was coming over Him in this battle with satan. However, Jesus was the Master Communicator and He certainly would not exaggerate about His condition, especially at a time like this. Obviously, whoever thinks this is just a figure of speech has never wrestled with satan. That is too bad. We all need to enter into a struggle with satan for the souls of our fellow man to the extent that it actually involves our whole being. Jesus certainly did in the garden.

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"And he taketh with him Peter and James and John, and began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy;
And saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch.
And he went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him"
(Mark 14:33-35)
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Another insight into this occasion is found in Mark 14:33 where we are told, in the original language, that "sore" or "great amazement" came upon Jesus before He entered into prayer in the garden. This is to be understood as "great astonishment and terror." There is no definite statement as to why He was struck with this terror. There is no evidence to support the notion that He was terrorized with the cross to the point of asking to be delivered from it. On the other hand, we do know that He had planned throughout all eternity to die on the cross. He had spent His entire earthly life preparing to die on the cross. He had attacked this moment with His whole being. Could it be He suddenly saw that He stood in jeopardy of losing His life while in the garden and possibly not even making it to the cross? SPECULATION! you say. Yes, but it is more well founded than the notion that Jesus was ready to run from the cross.

When He entered into the garden for prayer, He fell, or was cast down to the ground, either by His own exhaustion brought about by the psycho/physical struggle He was going through or because of the direct attack of satan while in His weakened condition. After all, satan is no gentleman and he does not fight fairly. After being defeated by Jesus in the wilderness temptations, satan had left Jesus for a season. Could this be satan's last attack to keep Jesus from paying the price for sinners?

At some point in this spiritual battle Jesus was waging in the garden, the struggle intensified. We read in Luke's account that it became so demanding on His physical being that an angel appeared from heaven and ministered to Him, strengthening Him. The strengthening was the same as when Saul received meat in Damascus after his encounter with Jesus.

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"And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.
And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground"
(Luke 22:43-44)
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Though this struggle was spiritual, Jesus was totally involved. His mind, emotions, energy and body were being wrenched. The Greek word which Luke uses is "agonia," a struggle for victory as one might see in a wrestling match in the Olympic games. It is the excitement brought about by the tension one feels just before a wrestling match or fight. It is not the fear of drawing back from a conflict, but the trembling excitement of entering into the battle. Jesus agony resulted in His bleeding through the pores of His skin.

Jesus Gains The Victory

Obviously Jesus was able to defeat satan in this terrible conflict. It took everything Jesus could do to win victory. He had hoped to get the prayer support of His disciples, but they failed Him. Instead He was left to conquer satan through His own prayers. Though He was weary and worn, He fought through and trusted the Father. The Father sent an angel to restore His strength for His final battle on the cross. You can see His recovery and victory when He returns to His disciple after the third round of fighting satan.

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And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy.
And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.
Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.
Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me"
(Matthew 26:43-46)
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Satan had failed again. Jesus had defeated him at every turn. But satan wasn't through. Even as they were about to leave the garden, satan tried again to maneuver Jesus into a violent exchange. In his excitement, Peter took his sword and cut of the ear of one of the servants who was present at Jesus' arrest. This could easily have resulted in a violent clash between the soldiers and the disciples. However, Jesus reached down and recovered the severed ear of Malchus and placed it back on his head. The quick response and the compassionate act probably defused the situation and thwarted another one of satan's plans.

Attacked On The Cross

Even as Jesus hung on the cross, satan was trying to defeat the work of God's salvation. As Jesus conversed with the two who were being executed with Him, one of them challenged Him to prove His deity by coming down from the cross and saving Himself and them. Jesus saw the ploy for what it was and continued to yield Himself to the will of the Father.

Though Jesus had been faithful in every way, satan still tried to rob Him of the victory. He inspired the authorities to place a guard at the tomb, but when Christ arose the soldiers fell away and fled their post. In order to cover up the resurrection, the authorities contrived the story that the disciples had stolen away the body of Jesus. Even today, satan still seeks to rob the world of the glorious truth that Jesus, the Son of God, died for the sins of the world on a cross; He was buried and rose again the third day.

Jesus Was Delivered From Death

Is there any evidence that Jesus got His prayer in the garden answered? Yes and I believe it is as clear as it can be. In the book of Hebrews we are told,

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"Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;"
(Hebrews 5:7)
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The garden struggle is more consistent with this passage than any other event recorded in the Scriptures. It certainly was in the days of His flesh, His earthly life and ministry. Though Jesus was a man of prayer, His three rounds of spiritual battle in prayer in the garden best fits the statement of "...strong crying and tears..."

Jesus was praying in the garden to be delivered from the cup. Not the cross, but some other cup. The cup of dying before He could get to the cross. He was praying, not to escape the cross, but to reach the cross. We know that He could not have been praying to escape the cross because He was heard, His prayer was answered by the One Who was able to save Him from death. He was saved from death. Not the death on the cross, but the death in the garden. He escaped death in the garden so that He might face death on the cross. The fact that He actually went to the cross is proof that He was not praying to escape the cross. His prayer was heard, and He got what He prayed for because He was righteous, pious, He feared God.

Remember too, in the garden Jesus said that He was about to die; in Hebrews we are told that He was praying to the One "...able to save Him from death..." We are also told that the Father heard His prayer. Obviously this does not mean that God simply "heard" Him. It is a basic truth that God "hears" everything, why state it in this passage? But when God heard Jesus, it means that the Father answered Jesus' prayer. Jesus had said that the Father always heard His prayers.

The Father heard His prayer because of His piety, holiness. Jesus was obedient unto death. Once He became aware of His need to die on the cross, He never wavered. He never looks for an escape. He was obedient, obedient to death, even death on the cross. His was not a hesitating obedience but a holy, joyful, whole-hearted obedience. He did not look for a way out of His calling...ever. We cannot judge His obedience by the obedience which we see in others and maybe see in ourselves. His obedience was perfect, from the heart, unwavering, joyful. We should not think of His pure obedience in the light of our anemic obedience. Instead, we should pattern our obedience after His.

Jesus' View Of The Cross

In the book of Hebrews, which was written after the cross, resurrection and ascension, we are told what had been Jesus' mindset as He approached the cross.

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"Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God"
(Hebrews 12:2)
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Jesus looked beyond all of the darkness of the cross to the final outcome and the ultimate purpose of His life and ministry. He did not lose sight of the end purpose and He did not look for a way to escape the cross. He was able and willing to suffer all that He knew was coming His way because He loved us to the point of death and He knew the joy that awaited His death on the cross.

This is not to say that He considered the cross to be joy. He endured the cross. He endured the death, He endured the sin, He endured the separation from the Father, He endured all that went with the cross. He endured it because of love, obedience, joy.

He despised the shame. This means that the shame of the cross did not hold any sway in His choice. The shame of it was a non factor. In effect, He could care less about the shame of the cross.

Jesus was more than a man on a mission, He was The Man on The Mission.

Lesser Men Have Stood The Test

Other men have faced difficult tasks and never wavered. I realize that no man has ever faced what the Savior faced. However, I also realize that there has never been a man like this Man. If men of lesser mettle have been able to see their task and the price that went with it, and then have been able to attack their destinies with total commitment and no hesitation, then how much more should we expect Jesus to do the same.

James told us,

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"My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;"
(James 1:2)
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PASTOR DAVID ASKS...
ARE WE TO BELIEVE THAT GOD WANTS US TO COUNT IT ALL JOY WHEN WE ENCOUNTER VARIOUS TRIAL, BUT JESUS SUPPOSEDLY SOUGHT DELIVERANCE FROM THE CROSS?

James goes on to say that we must ask in faith believing and not wavering with a double mind.

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"A double minded man is unstable in all his ways"
(James 1:8)
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PASTOR DAVID ASKS...
ARE WE TO BELIEVE THAT JESUS WAS DOUBLE MINDED ABOUT GOING TO THE CROSS, EVEN FOR A MOMENT?

* Jesus never sought to escape the cross, He embraced the cross.

* We should not escape God's call to the cross. We must embrace the cross.

*As Jesus went to the cross for us, in that He died in our place, for our sins...so we ought to take up our cross and follow Him. We ought to do it without reservation.

* There is forgiveness and newness of life for those who accept His death on the cross for them.

* There is purity, power and victory for those who take up their cross and follow Him fully.



IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT THIS OR ABOUT OUR MINISTRY,
E-mail me

PASTOR DAVID ON HIGHER GROUND
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