This was placed on my heart today. I hope it speaks to those who need it.
Jesus spent most of his recorded life appearing strong, steadfast, and unbreakable. At least that is how the gospel stories make Him look, and with good reason. He did many wonderful things in His ministry and faced vicious opposition. In the church, we are taught to “be like Jesus” and I think that many of us envision this Jesus, the one that stayed free of sin in the desert, the one that always put the Pharisees in their places, the one that always had an answer to the most difficult questions. But that is a mistake. If that is our benchmark, we are all dismal failures, and the missive to “be like Jesus” seems like a cruel joke rather than an aspiration.
You see, there is another Jesus. The one that went to the garden and prayed. The one that showed fear and worry. The one that asked to change the plan. The one that looked weak and broken. We know of this one moment in His life, but I submit that there were other nights, when everyone else was asleep, that He lay awake, asking God the same questions. Why don’t we aspire to be like THIS Jesus?
Because our culture and society (and sometimes our churches) teach us that weakness is wrong. They teach us that weakness is an indictment of our sin, an indication that we are “not right”, and that our faith is rickety and unstable. We convince ourselves that if we were “okay”, we would not be weak. So when the moments of weakness come, we hide them. We ignore them. We pretend they don’t hurt.
But Jesus didn’t do that. The Son of God, the holder of the keys of death (yes, He held them before His death – they were not some kind of reward), the very incarnation of God Himself, faced His weakness, His humanity, and it brought Him to His knees and to tears. Was He afraid of death? No. Was He afraid of pain? I don’t think so. I think He was afraid of what each and every one of us fear every day, and never talk about.
I think He was afraid of “the alone.”
He knew that during His crucifixion that the burden of sin, OUR sin, would build a separation between Him and God unlike anything He had ever known. God was tearing Himself in two to experience something that by nature He should have never experienced – total, complete, “alone.” On the cross, He didn’t cry out about pain, He didn’t cry out about death, He cried out about “alone.”
As Jesus stumbled under the weight of the cross, Satan told Him, “They’ve all left you.”
As He hung there dying, Satan told Him, “God has left you.”
But Jesus went through the “alone” because He knew that it would not last. He knew what His time in the “alone” would purchase for all of us. Out of His moment of weakness in the garden came the strength to do this. Without facing weakness, the strength never comes.
If you are struggling with your “alone”, whatever that is for you, it does not mean you will always struggle. If you feel weak under its weight, it does not mean you will always falter. If you feel like the weakness and doubt will never end, remember that as a child of God, it has already ended, because Jesus dared to be weak so that His strength, and our hope, could be perfected.
Don’t be afraid to have your “garden moment,” because every time you get back to your feet, you win. And in that small victory, you are really “being like Jesus.”