Grief & Grace

In a recent article from Christianity Today, Mark Galli reminds us of Mark Twain's story, The Prince and the Pauper:

"…we are introduced to Prince Edward and a poor boy named Tom Canty. In the opening pages, they meet each other and discover they look identical. Since each one is dissatisfied with his social situation, they decide to swap places and see what life's like from the other side. Tom takes on the life of Prince Edward, and Prince Edward adopts the life of the pauper Tom. During the course of the novel, King Henry dies, at which point Prince Edward becomes King of England. For the rest of the story, Edward has to convince others that he is the legitimate king. All they see, of course, is a poor boy in rags."

Galli goes on to note that Jesus is often unrecognizable, because of his humility: "Many people—not just the wise men—had trouble spotting King Jesus in his day, because they were looking for the trappings of royalty instead of an infant in a manger or a young man in a carpenter's shop."

Nor would people be looking for a king in the Garden of Gethsemane. But that is where we find him in Mark 14. Again, he is not in a palace. He is not at the vanguard of a conquering army. He is in a Garden on the outskirts of Jerusalem. And it's not just his location that we should find so scandalous; it's also what he's doing.

The Messiah, the anointed one of Israel, her deliverer, the Son of God, the Lord who has cast out demons and raised the dead and controlled the forces of nature is on his knees. He is overwhelmed. He is racked with misery. His body is rebelling against him. And he is begging for his life. Doesn't exactly comport with our idea of grandeur and power, does it?

But I believe that this is when we see Jesus at His best. Here more than any other place, Jesus is the Messiah. He is both the Son of God and the Son of Man. He is fully human and fully divine. Nowhere else, except perhaps on the cross, do we see the two come together so completely.

It's a good thing we were not allowed to write the story of Jesus, because who but God would include the events that take place in Gethsemane? Who would imagine the Messiah in such a terrible state? But our salvation begins in Gethsemane. I'm beginning to think that this is where the battle is fought and won. Gethsemane makes Calvary (and the empty tomb) possible. And we can learn more about the world saving character of Christ there than anywhere else. I hope you'll spend some time with Him there this morning.