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Thursday night: Jesus grieves

On the night before his crucifixion, Jesus was in a beautiful garden full of olive trees called Gethsemane. Its name means oil-press in Hebrew. The garden was located at the foot of the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem and the Kidron Valley. This was one of Jesus' most favourite places and he often came here to pray. Eleven of his twelve disciples accompanied him. The twelfth man Judas was nowhere to be seen.

This night was like no other. Unknown to anyone on the planet, the biggest rescue mission that the world will ever see was nearing completion. The fate of the entire human race rested on what was soon to take place and on what the hero would eventually decide to do.

Jesus was humanity's only hope for survival. Without him, the whole of mankind was doomed for extinction in hell forever. He was heaven's secret weapon. Jesus had only one chance at saving the world and he desperately needed his Father's help to succeed.

Jesus turned to his disciples saying, "Sit here and pray that you do not fall into temptation and sin against God." His voice was thin and shaky, which was very uncommon for him. He went a little further from them, taking along only those closest to him: Peter, James and John. Together they entered the neighbouring Garden of Olives. Trembling, Jesus opened up to Peter, James and John saying, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with me" (Matthew 26:38 NKJV). He was relying on his friends.

Jesus walked a stones-throw away from them and fell to the ground, weighed down by unimaginable sorrow. His heart was heavy and pounding. He was at the doorstep of the darkest moments of his life and he was feeling weak inside. And there on the ground he remained, totally overwhelmed by intense and stormy emotions. "Father, help me," he whispered. "You are my strength."

The Saviour of the world

Over the coming 12 hours, Jesus would have to suffer greatly to pay the price for everybody's sins. Only days earlier, referring to himself he said to his followers:

"Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished. For he will be delivered to the Gentiles and will be mocked and insulted and spit upon. They will scourge him and kill him. And the third day he will rise again" (Luke 18:31-33 NKJV).

Jesus is in agony

Jesus' soul was in agony beyond measure. God was asking him to drink a cup full of suffering and death. This cup was overflowing with judgment and punishment against all ungodliness and wicked crimes of the world. Jesus grieved over the spiritual death that he was soon to suffer to save humanity. Spiritual death is the experience of being cut-off and separated from God, because only in God is life. Jesus had never been apart from his Father. But soon he was to be hurled from the presence of God - a distance as far as the east is from the west.

Jesus, who is perfect love, looked up to Heaven and cried out:

"O my Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will" (Matthew 26:39 NKJV).

There on the ground he remained, pouring out his heart to his Father, who was watching and listening in heaven.

To complete his assignment, Jesus had to give himself away as a sin offering for others. Heaven was about to make an exchange with the world, swapping Jesus' innocence for their guilt. Jesus was going to give himself as payment for all of the world's offences. He was going to bear all of God's wrath for everyone's immorality, in their place. This way, he could save those who would later believe in his story.



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