Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Are You Ready?

When my friend lived at home in the West Indies, he lived with his many siblings,
and with his aunt. Like most children, my friend Alford* ( *not his real name),
and his siblings were interested in playing. When Alford's aunt went to Town,
she would let the children know. Alford and his siblings gathered around their aunt,
begging her, "take us, take us too." All did this, but one, David*. When auntie would make the announcement, David would run to the bedroom and change his clothes.
When auntie was ready to leave, she always took David, because he was the only one
dressed and ready to go. You would think it would take the children no time at all
to figure this out but not so. It took Alford and his siblings a long time understand why Charles was chosen to go to town with auntie, time and time again. Friends, it was because David was ready at all times. He only had to go and put on the clothes he had already laid out in his mind. The advice of an old Pastor readily comes to my mind about preaching. He said, “One must always be ready.” I think there's even a scripture verse which says that we must always be ready to give an account of why we believe -- in season, and out of season (2 Tim. 4:2).

When it comes to life itself, are we ready? When temptation lurks, are you ready to fight back and win? Are you ready to overcome temptation? Or does temptation overcome you? If my Pastor’s advice holds true to preaching, how much more does it hold true for life? So the question is, how can we be ready at all times? Was Christ ready at all times? Was He ready for His trial? We know that He was, so how did He prepare? What did He do? His last visit to Gethsemane sheds light on His preparation. In Luke 22 we read:

Luke 22:39 And He came out, and went, as He was wont, to the mount of
Olives; and his disciples also followed him.
Luke 22:40 And when He was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye
enter not into temptation.
Luke 22:41 And He was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and
kneeled down, and prayed,
Luke 22:42 Saying, Father, if Thou be willing, remove this cup from Me:
nevertheless not My will, but Thine, be done.
Luke 22:43 And there appeared an angel unto Him from heaven, strengthening
Luke 22:44 And being in an agony He prayed more earnestly: and His sweat
was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
Luke 22:45 And when He rose up from prayer, and was come to His disciples,
He found them sleeping for sorrow,
Luke 22:46 And said unto them, Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest ye enter
into temptation.

Jesus prayed. That was His secret. So important to the life of God's followers is this secret, that He shares it with His disciples throughout His 3 1/2 years with them, and reminds them again at the end. There were no positive motivational pep talks, such as we like to give. There were no mystical transcendental meditation processes such as becoming one with nature. There was only this the need of his followers to engage in simple honest heart wrenching prayer to the Father. Christ knew that His own strength, He could not bear the cup. He pleaded for a way out, or perhaps some middle ground alternative. But the Father required the standard to be upheld. The Law required death. The thought of the awaiting cross filled Jesus with horror and dread; yet for our sake (both singular and plural), knowing that His corporate sacrifice was our only hope, He chose to carry out the plan of merciful intervention for us. This was the plan that He and the Father had formed long before the need for it arose.

Gethsemane was a battle. A battle the disciples lost. But a battle we can win. According to Sister White:

When in the garden of Gethsemane, the cup of suffering was placed in the Saviour's hand, the thought came to Him, Should He drink it or should He leave the world to perish in sin? His suffering was too great for human comprehension. As the agony of soul came upon Him, "His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground" (Luke 22:44). The mysterious cup trembled in His hand. In this awful crisis, when everything was at stake, the mighty angel who stands in God's presence, came to the side of Christ, not to take the cup from His hand, but to strengthen Him to drink it, with the assurance of the Father's love … Christ drank of the cup, and this is the reason that sinners can come to God and find pardon and grace. But those who share in Christ's glory must share also in His suffering (E.G. White Notes, page 49).

She adds elsewhere that the temptation to let the human race bear the consequences of its own guilt was terrible, while He stood innocent before God. He hoped that if He could only know that His disciples understood and appreciated this, He would be strengthened. But the disciples slept. Needles to say, this experience of the disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane contains a lesson for the Lord's people today. Many today are fast asleep, as were the disciples. They do not realize the necessity of watchfulness and earnest prayer in order to withstand temptation. They are not watching and praying lest they enter into temptation. Some trust to themselves like the disciples. They do not look to the Mighty Helper as Christ counsels us to do in this passage. So when others are in need of their sympathy and prayers – like Jesus was - they are found asleep, like the disciples (Collegiate Quarterly, page 46).

Those who share in Christ's glory – His character – must also share in His suffering. That is the prerequisite. So the question comes to you today--- "Are you ready?"
Raul Diaz & Maria Greaves-Barnes

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