Some of you will recognize this picture I took in the Philippines placed at the heart of the Stations of the Cross.
Here at the top of the hill, Jesus is represented as praying in Gethsemane.
But, awaiting him on the bottom of the hill is his fate dying upon the cross.
Gethsemane is a moment stark in its human honesty.
At first glance, Jesus seems weak, actually asking the Father to help him back out of the plan forged in heaven
before the beginning of time.
Is he afraid to die?
Many brave men and women have faced death, even difficult deaths.
Is he weaker than they? The answer, I believe, can be discovered in Jesus' own words.
"For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
"This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many."
Jesus is not only identifying with the suffering servant of Isaiah,
he emphasizes the necessity of his plight to do for others what they will ultimately fail to do for themselves.
These sayings teach us that, as Jesus looked forward to his own death, he understood it was a ransom,
that is, a payment to set others free.
He also saw his death as bearing the sins of many -- our sins.
Sin isn't pretty - it slyly disguises itself as being successful, as cleverness, as happiness, as fulfillment.
It is power harvested for self and rather than abhorring it we almost worship it today.
We think we are just taking care of number One, but we miss the fact that God alone is Glory to be given.
Make no mistake "the many" are "the many" because sin is the hidden motivator of us all!
Sin in its very nature is stepping out on our own, as we move away from God.
Here is what Jesus, God fully human is so disturbed by in Gethsemane -- loss of his Father.
He faces the consequences of our multiplied sins, heaped up upon him to no end.
So when Jesus asks this dreadful cup be taken from him, he holds out the hope for the One who loves him to deliver
him from what awaits him.
If we see it this way Jesus reveals his Divine courage in concluding, "Not my will, but yours."
Still beyond will come the cry from Golgotha,
"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" and almost in defiant dignity,
"It is finished."
All that the Godhead had intended to do is laid down in Jesus letting go of his life.
There is a reunion foreshadowed that is not merely his own as he pronounces the hope that will await us all,
"Father, into your hands I commit my spirit."
On Easter Sunday his body was changed and set free and victorious.
Resurrection, he reminds us is a gift he embodies for "the many" like you and me.
That is grace - God's unmerited favor for us who, despite what we have done and even continue to do,
are so loved by him.
This is the message of Gethsemane and Golgotha and the Empty Tomb. Come and share this message.
Hallelujah! He is risen!