...if we be honest with ourselves,
we shall be honest with each other.  ~ George MacDonald

Jesus Wept 

Jesus Wept

 
If you are a reasonably good person you can understand someone who committed murder coming to loath themselves. You can understand that person saying to themselves, “What kind of man does that?” If a murderer reaches that point they will be so remorseful that they will either kill themselves, or be so repentant that they hand themselves in and seek the death penalty for their crime.

That’s genuine repentance.

Now that makes sense for the murderer. But what if your standards were so high, that you started to say to yourself, “What kind of man does that?” (Because of the way you spoke to your wife or because you didn’t go and watch your child’s football game.) Wouldn’t such an attitude lead you to change? Wouldn’t such an attitude lead you to repentance?

Our problem is not that our bad desires are too strong; our problem is our good desires are too weak. If I am honest with myself I have to admit that I do not always feel the way I ought to feel toward others. I am not as kind and compassionate as I ought to be. My desire to please God is nowhere near as strong as Jesus desire was. There's something rotten at my core. If I was truly good, I would not even wrestle with many of the things I struggle with. I could not be tempted by them.

Jesus’ did not wrestle with the kinds of things I wrestle with. His intimacy with his Father was perfect and his love for him was so strong that his greatest delight was to do his Father’s will. He would not let any thing in this world interfere with the perfect intimacy he enjoyed. He could not be tempted by lesser things. (A person is only as strong as their strongest relationship. And there is no relationship stronger than the eternal relationship in God.) 

It is true that Satan tried to tempt Jesus. But it is also true that Satan could not tempt him (God cannot be tempted). No matter how weary, or hungry, or how much pain Jesus had to endure, he could not be made to go against his Father's will. (If Satan really knew who he was dealing with; he would not have tried to interfere with the relationship between Jesus and his Father. You're not going to tempt a man who has just eaten all he wants at the finest restaurant, with a rotten apple; but you might tempt a man who is starving.  "...to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet" (Prov 27:7b).)   No man, woman or child has known the kind of intimacy that Jesus knew while he walked this earth. People could hurt Jesus; but they couldn't take away the source of his strength.

Now we must not think that Jesus suffering was easier to endure because he was divine. 

"It is with the holiest fear that we should approach the terrible fact of the sufferings of our Lord. Let no one think that those were less because he was more. The more delicate the nature, the more alive to all that is lovely and true, lawful and right, the more does it feel the antagonism of pain, the inroad of death upon life; the more dreadful is that breach of the harmony of things whose sound is torture. He felt more than man could feel, because he had a larger feeling." (from "The Eloi" in George MacDonald's Unspoken Sermons)


So how can we know such love and such strength? 

First we have to be honest with ourselves and acknowledge that we need God. And instead of trying to weaken our bad desires, we should reflect on how weak our good desires are.  This should drive us to the source of all that is beautiful and good

God is very kind to us, even though we don’t deserve it. Every good thing comes from God. And as if that is not enough, God—the creator of this world—became a man and died for you and me just because he loves us. He died to set us free from sin, which ruins our lives and the lives of others. Jesus died to set things right; to set things right between us and God. When our relationship with God is set right, all our other relationships will begin to be set right too. But in order for this to happen, we must trust him.

We cannot be close to God while we refuse to trust him. He loves us just as we are, but he loves us so much that he wants us to be perfect. Only when we are all that we were meant to be can we be truly free.*

Today is the day of salvation. Thank God for becoming a man and dying for you. Ask him to forgive you and help you, then start to trust him. Only he can set you free. Only he can make things right.

One final note. Jesus didn't just die for us; by his spirit he rose his body back to life to show us who he truly is.

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*Do not regard doing what Jesus says as service to him. Everything he asks us to do is for our sake, not his. If I fail to build my house on the rock, the storms will come and my house will come crashing down. If I am to be free, I must do what Jesus says.