Matthew 26:36-42 – Jesus gets you

Matthew 26:36-42 – Jesus gets you

Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’ He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.’ Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.’ Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. ‘Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?’ he asked Peter. ‘Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.’ He went away a second time and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.'”
– Matthew 26:36-42NIV

One of the things that perplexed me as a child was that Jesus went through the big deal of living a life on earth, going through all the betrayal and pain of the cross, rising from the dead…just to save us. Not that I thought saving us wasn’t a big deal, but why did God do it that way? He’s the All-Powerful One, right? Couldn’t he just wave His God-hand and obliterate our sin, then make sure someone told us we were forgiven? It would still have been a free gift to which we could respond in faith. He’d still get to bring us healing and the opportunity to be with Him always. Win-win, right?

As an adult…I get it. It’s not for any profound theologically-discerned reason based on an understanding of God’s adherence to justice because of His wholly-just nature. This reason is certainly true…but there’s a reason that hits right into my heart far more than a highly rational explanation like that.

Jesus’ life proves He gets me.

Jesus’ suffering proves He knows me.

You see…as an adult, I have come to understand Jesus’ words in the depths of my soul:

“My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death”
(Matthew 26:38NIV)

Have you ever cried until your were screaming? Have you ever felt like the world was spiraling into an inescapable dark hole beneath your feet? Have you ever looked at your future and saw…nothing? Have you ever faced a moment where you knew the next moment would determine whether you’d ever be able to truly live again? Have you ever roamed the darkness of night in silent desperation and found no hope or comfort at all?

The worst night of my life was the first night in the hospital after my husband unexpectedly collapsed at work and nearly died in the ER. We didn’t know what was wrong with him, yet. We didn’t know if we had a future together. We didn’t know what the next day would be like. We just knew other people’s blood was keeping him alive. We would find out three days later he had leukemia…that we were in a fight for his life.

He was asleep in his hospital bed. I couldn’t hold him…I couldn’t sleep. Everyone I knew was asleep. I was alone.

And that’s why Jesus took the path to the cross.

Because when I read His words in Gethsemane on the eve of His death…I know He understands what it’s like to be me. My God knows me. He has lived through what I am living through. So when the author of Hebrews wrote in Hebrews 4:15, “we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses”… I know it’s true. I know Jesus’ heart is with me on this road we’re walking.

And if it’s true for us…it’s true for you.

  • “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” Describe a time when that was true for you.
  • How did you endure through that experience?
  • How does it impact you to realize Jesus has felt the same as you?
  • Challenge for the week: We all know someone whose soul is in the same situation as Jesus described. Do something small to let them know they are not forgotten.

2 Corinthians 1:3-11 – We Can’t Handle It

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort. For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.” – 2 Corinthians 1:3-11ESV

Have you ever heard the saying, “God will never give you more than you can handle”? If you’re like me, you’ve heard it more times than you can count. A lot of people believe this is actually a quote from the Bible, and it’s often stated in the face of horrific, challenging circumstances that seem insurmountable, intended as a word of comfort to “bolster” us against the hardship.

The problem with this statement is life will absolutely give you more than you can endure. Someday you will find yourself like Job in Job 16, sitting in the ashes of your life. There will be no easy out, no escape route from the agony, just the inevitable struggle stretching ahead of you to the horizon. If in that moment, all we have is “God will never give you more than you can handle”…what hopeless despair is our only gift from God! What rage would rise up in you to hollow you out inside and leave you empty! If that statement is true, God has burned our world down around us and left us up to our necks in the ashes of what we once loved intentionally. He destroys us and demands we handle the fallout alone. What a callous judge!

Imagine being the parent of one of the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL. Imagine finding out it was your child the gunman found; it is your precious youngster, whom you still remember reaching out to you with sparkling eyes and a big smile as they stumble through their first steps, who will never come to your arms again. Imagine the heart-rending agony…and in the face of this statement you understand the God of the Universe conspired to murder your child and expects you to drag yourself from the cesspool of loss by your own sweat and labor. Such a God stands back from our spinning, blue globe and strikes us down, then with crossed arms observes us struggle through with judgement in a heart that feels no compassion.

Praise be to God this is not the God of the Bible. Christian…this is not the God we follow. This statement never appears in the Bible, either directly or through inference. In fact, in 2 Corinthians 1:3-11, our God is exactly the opposite of this smiting, demanding, disappointed, cosmic parent. Our God is “the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction” (2 Corinthians 1:3b-4a).

When our world burns down around us, our mighty God isn’t the one holding the match and gas can, nor looking at us in frowning expectation this is “within our grasp” to handle. Our God, rather, enters into the pain with us. He suffers with us. He sends His people, His Church, as His arms of love and support as we experience a snapshot of Hell on earth (2 Corinthians 1:4). He knows we cannot handle the agony of this life alone, nor are we designed to (Genesis 2:18). Fall into the arms of the Creating, Father God we worship. Lean on His strength. He is the “God, who raises the dead”. His nail-scarred hands are there, no matter what, not to deliver affliction…but to carry us through it.

  1. Have you ever been told “God will never give you more than you can handle”? How did you feel when you were told that?
  2. Why do you think so many people think this phrase is in the Bible, when it’s easy to discover it is not?
  3. What difference would it make in a difficult situation to know God is there through it?
  4. Challenge for the week: we all have at least one friend or loved one going through hardship. How can you be the “comfort of God” to that person this week?