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Today’s message is from Mark 14:36, “Take this cup from me.” Following this prayer, Jesus said, “Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Please read Mark 14:26-42.
Jesus told his disciples, “You will all fall away, for it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’” This is a quote from Zechariah 13:7. It is amazing that the events of the Cross and the betrayal of the disciples were prophesied in the Old Testament. The disciples, of course, could not believe that they were about to be traitors at this point. Peter declared with confidence, “Even if all fall away, I will not.” But Jesus answered, “Today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.” The disciples later on acknowledged the difficulty of being a disciple of Jesus and the weakness of their faith.
Now, just as the betrayal of the disciples was prophesied, the suffering of the Cross was also prophesied in the Old Testament. Today, we’ll look at two representative passages, from Isaiah and Psalms. I believe that as we understand the contents a little deeper, we’ll be able to understand the sufferings of Jesus and his struggle facing the Cross. Mark 14:32-34 describes Jesus’ suffering: “They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch.” Mark 10:45 says, “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.”
A “ransom” here is the price paid to free slaves. As I explained before, through death on the cross Jesus experienced God’s judgment on our behalf for the forgiveness of our sins. On the Cross, a sinless person was considered a sinner and experienced punishment and disconnection from God. At Gethsemane, Jesus knew the meaning of the Cross, and he was confronting the heaviness of that reality in his prayer. It was by no means a simple or easy reality.
In Isaiah chapter 53, the figure of the suffering servant was prophesied. Isaiah 53:3-5 says, “He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”
Sickness and pain are symbols of the curse that sinful humans receive. This prophecy reveals that the Messiah will take the curse for you. Also, “he was pierced and crushed” points to the passion of the Messiah, the cross of Christ. Jesus Christ bore the curse on the human race and he was pierced on the cross.
Next, please look at Psalm 22. This psalm has long been called the Passion of Messiah. Verse one prophesies Jesus’ cry on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” This is the cry of suffering that comes from disconnection with God. The suffering of disconnection was within the Triune God, between the Father and the Son. Through this disconnection, Jesus received judgment from God on our behalf as sinners. This is the pain that only Jesus understands. Psalm 22:6 goes on to say, “But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by everyone, despised by the people.” Likewise, Jesus was about to go through the suffering of not being treated as a worthy human being.
In the Old Testament, there are other prophecies about the suffering of the Cross. Jesus understood the meaning of these prophecies completely, yet he prayed, “Abba, Father, everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me.” This cup refers to the suffering of the cross. The disciples couldn’t understand his suffering. While Jesus was praying, the disciples couldn’t stay awake and they fell asleep. Luke 22:44 says, “And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” Just like the disciples, we cannot fully understand the suffering that Jesus went through. The suffering and joy of the cross to redeem our sin is only understood fully by Jesus. Regardless of the disciples or us, Jesus’ heart and mission was on the cross, completing the redemption of human beings through suffering. In the end Jesus prayed, “Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Jesus understood the will of God, and he knew that it was the best way. After this prayer in Gethsemane, Jesus would go through arrest, trial, and the cross.
2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Jesus took our sin on our behalf so that we can have a new life by trusting in him. It is not only a life in which the forgiveness of sin is given, but also a life in which we live as being justified by God. Hebrew 2:18 promises, “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” Let us give thanks to Jesus who went through suffering on the cross and start living a new life with Jesus.