Love. Books have been written about it, songs have been sung about it, movies have been made about it, yet we still get it wrong. We all want it. We all need it. We all go about it differently. How you grew up is a big factor in how you view love. The world also likes to tell us what love is and what it looks like. Everyone has an opinion on love.
Confession: I love a good romantic comedy. In real life I’m not a super gushy person. The Bachelor, while being a riveting train wreck to watch, makes me want to hurl when they start getting cheesy on each other after one date. But when you pair a little cheesy with a little funny, I’m hooked. The movies play into our need for romance. Many women want to be swept off their feet and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t one of them. When a man goes to great lengths to prove his love, it’s hard not to fall for him. I mean, what’s more romantic than the guy who is fighting the bad guys to get to his lady? He swims the ocean, climbs the mountain, loses his legs in battle, kills the villain, and he does all this just for a kiss from his true love. Swoon.
That being said, let’s switch gears. I’ve been doing a bible study during this season of Lent that has been awesome! You can get it as an app on your phone. It’s called She Reads Truth. It has lots of different studies on there that are either free or just a couple of bucks. So good. Anyway, so I was reading about when Jesus was praying in the garden before He was arrested and I was struck by something. I’ve read/heard this passage many times but never really thought about it like this before.
“And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” Luke 22:41-42
I always knew Jesus said this but I guess I never considered what it meant, really. I always thought Jesus wanted to die. In my attempt to make his sacrifice more romantic, I let myself believe that He wanted to hang on a cross and suffer for my sins. After reading this, I looked back at the other gospel accounts to see if they all said the same thing. The 3 gospels that mention Him praying in the garden all include Jesus asking God to take the cup from Him. So basically, asking God to get him out of dying on the cross. Hmmm. I didn’t know what to think about that at first. You mean, my Jesus who loves me didn’t want to be mocked, humiliated, spat on, whipped, and tortured for me? My self-centered nature immediately thought “Well, that can’t be right because He loves me! He should’ve wanted to do those things for me!” Oh sweet love, I have so much to learn. I can’t deny what Scripture says. He specifically asked God to take the cup, or “cross”, from Him. It states it clearly 3 times. This was not the movie love I thought it was.
Then I read what Jesus said after He made His request to God. “Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” Not my will, but yours. Hmmm. He loved his Father so much He would rather do what his Father wanted than what He wanted. Swoon. There’s the movie love, guys. Self-denial is love. Putting someone else’s wants and desires above your own is love. It goes against every single thing the world tells us about love. The world tells us to make ourselves happy. The world tells us if it feels good do it, if it doesn’t then we should bail. The world gives us a version of love that is completely self-centered. By the Bible’s standards, that’s the opposite of what love is. No wonder our world is so disillusioned. We’ve been sold a faulty definition of love.
Now, do I think because Jesus didn’t want to die on the cross this means He didn’t love us? Absolutely not. You do hard things for people you love. Sometimes I don’t want to discipline, sometimes I don’t want to forgive, sometimes I don’t want to serve, sometimes I don’t want to listen, but these are things we do when we love others. Clearly, these examples pale in comparison to the hard thing Jesus did. No one’s asking me to hang on a cross for a bunch of people that hate me. Jesus wanted to be obedient because He loved his Dad. And because his Dad loved us, Jesus loved us too. They were one.
For a long time I thought Jesus asked God to take the cup because He didn’t want to go through the physical pain. After all, He was human too. I didn’t realize until a couple of years ago His anguish was much more about being separated from the Father than it was about the physical pain He would endure. I can’t remember what book it was that I was reading that talked about this but I remember it blowing my mind. That Jesus would be more sorrowful about being separated from God than the pain that was about to take place on the cross was news to me. He knew His Father was holy and could not be in communion with that which was sinful or unholy. He knew His Father couldn’t be near Him on the cross, He couldn’t comfort Him; He couldn’t take His pain away. This was heartbreaking for Jesus. Jesus, because He was God incarnate, could’ve gotten Himself off the cross. He could’ve gotten out of it. But it meant more to Him to do what God wanted Him to do, even if it was agony.
And to think, God did this because He loved us. Jesus did this because He loved us. He wanted us. He didn’t want to die but He knew He had to get to us and this was the only way. Forget movie love give me Jesus.
If you’ve got a minute, listen to this song by Thad Cockrell called Oh To Be Loved. It reminds me of an old church hymn. Let it run all over you. You won’t be sorry.
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