Anticipation of Agony

For the past year I have been reading the book, “Desire of Ages,” for my morning devotions. Before each chapter, is indicated the Bible texts that the chapter is a commentary of. So…I spend a couple of days studying the texts for my devotions, then I read the designated chapter in the Desire of Ages. Using this method, I have come to see Jesus in a whole new light.

He was so kind. So patient. So thoughtful. A quick-thinker. Insightful. Very intelligent. Amiable. Dignified. Truthful. Tactful. Dedicated. I could go on. Overall, I have actually come to like Jesus for the first time in my life. I mean, for the first time, He has personality, not just character…

All too quickly, in my reading, I reached the chapter entitled “A Servant of Servants” and I knew the end was imminent. Something happened to me that I am still struggling with. My very being recoiled from the cross. I’ve known since I was a child that Jesus died on a cross to save me from my sins, but as I saw the cross on the horizon, I didn’t want Him to go there.

Remember Peter, when Jesus was foretelling His death in Matthew 16, how Peter rebuked the Son of God for speaking as such? I could not understand Peter before. Didn’t Peter know that Jesus could not lie? That Jesus, with His word, healed the sick, raised the dead and shrivelled up a fig tree…Hadn’t Jesus just told them He would rise again the third day? How could Peter question Christ’s words?

But as I saw Jesus’ steps tending toward the cross in my devotional readings, I wanted, like Peter, to grab hold of Jesus and say, No Jesus, don’t do it! Don’t go to the cross. You deserve better. You’re so gentle, so loving. If you die, I would have lost a friend I have been coming to know every morning. I’ll miss You!

“Peter loved his Lord…[He] did not desire to see the cross in the work of Christ…The disciple shrank from fellowship with his Lord in suffering…” (DA p241) I can understand Peter now.

It’s strange. I know Jesus will rise again “the day after tomorrow,” and I have history to prove it where Peter didn’t. But I still don’t want Jesus to go through the cross. Maybe I still have this skewed view that only good things happen to good people. Or maybe my idea of “good” things needs revisiting. Perhaps I don’t want Jesus to go through the cross because I am afraid, myself, of going through the cross.

I saw Him on the cross in Matthew 27 this morning. What agony must have tormented His mind as He hung there for Him to shout, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachtani…!? He was so calm throughout His trial before the Sanhedrin, before Pilate and before Herod. He uttered not one word in the courtroom of Herod. Not one. But there on the cross, in anguish He cries out in agonizing question to God…

Will I endure the cross with Christ? Would you?