Brothers and sisters, I write today in order to share some thoughts I have regarding the last hours of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Keep in mind that the things I'm going to disclose .here might not be new to you, but they are indicative of just how heinous our sin is to God the Father.
Point 1: The fear our Lord endured prior to the whole occurence, or the beginning of His personal Hell. In other words, the suffering and prayers at Gethsemane. Jesus saw all of what was coming. He even asked the Father to take it all away. The man He was. But the God He is was submissive to the Father's will. But no wonder he sought out his friends who were asleep and had no idea what our Lord was going through, I'm digressing a bit.
Do we really know fear? Have we ever had panic as in a situation where we have the fear that we are about to die? I do and I have. That miserable fear is the issue I want to address
I was scuba diving. It was my first open water dive in Folsom Lake near Sacramento, California. My friend Dana and I dove into the water. We had dropped a rope with an anchor to use to go down faster and to get us up if there were problems. Little did we know what all-consuming fear we would face.
We were descending and I looked at my depth gage. We were at 80 feet (about 25 meters) and suddenly, the water became the most beautiful emerald green I have ever seen. I began to feel really good in my mind and my body, slightly like having nitrous oxide at the dentist's office. I had no idea that I was experiencing the beginnings of the influence of nitrogen narcosis.
At first, it was tranquilizing and mesmerizing. Very pleasant. I felt as if I was in an episode of "Sea Hunt," an old, old TV series about diving with Lloyd Bridges starring in it. I felt REALLY great!
I was not aware of it, but my suit had compressed and I was sinking. I had let go of the rope which was (I think) one of the biggest mistakes I have ever made. I was swimming freely, just enjoying the great feeling the narcosis had provided and the feeling of just flying through the water.
The beautiful emerald color was darkeining considerably as I sunk further. I failed to check my gage and see how deep I was. I wondered if Dana was feeling the same things. Ah, the hell with him, he is a seasoned diver.
Suddenly, the darkness, the blind, deep darkness had completely enveloped me. I had sunk into the depths not far from the dam, perhaps a half mile or a mile. The mud at the bottom of the lake had churned up and had blocked all light from where I was. I could not see my gauges. No measure of depth and no watch to see how much time had passed. The sense of up and down had left. I could not feel which way the bubbles from out of the regulator behind me were heading. There was no sensation of direction; right or left, forward or backwards could be heading me anywhere. All sense of time passing had evaporated. And I was SO stoned. It was like entering another dimension.
The knowledge that I could run out of compressed air and drown was creeping into my brain. This completely enveloping sensation began to completely take hold of me. Perceiving myself to be so close to death, panic began to take hold of my mind. In fact, I thought at that point I was going to lose my mind. Deep under this water, I began to scream through my air mask for Dana. Of course, any attempt to talk without full face equipment and two way radio is completely futile...Laughable now, futile and illogical then for we had no such equipment
What I normally perceived to be reality had begun to fly away with my vision of that incredible emerald green water all around me. Now, with this complete loss of everything I knew as reality, my perception had shifted to a complete loss of what I knew to be real and in it's place, I sensed nothing but my emminent death. Imagine the panic this no time, no space episode in my life was about to try and inspire.
Of course, I'm writing to you now, so this does have a happy ending (at least for me, ha ha...some others, perhaps not) A very small but firm and strong voice told me "If you panic, you will die." I listened. With efforts in the direction of thought the voice had led me to, I got my mind back on track. I could control the panic and think clearly in spite of everything, because I chose to obey that voice. To me, it was the voice of the Lord. I will never forget it. I found the rope, I then found Dana and I wrapped my legs around his chest until I knew he had found the rope too. He passed me and grabbed hold above me. We were ascending very slowly because neither of us had any idea how much time had passed and we could not see our bubbles yet.
The first thing I could see as we ascended was the chrome framing Dana's goggles. He looked like some kind of weird alien looking up towards the surface. I looked at my watch. just five minutes and change had passed. It seemed like an eternity, believe me. We didn't even have to decompress...we were fine.
We were rising at the speed of our bubbles which we could finally see and finally we surfaced and I crawled over the side and into the boat. We checked our tanks and just lied on the seats and breathed in all that air. I thought Dana had known my fear and that he was laughing at me the whole time we were under...as though such adventures were commonplace with him. He was hysterical, laughing and crying at the same time. He had known my exact fear.
I was anything but calm and I felt a deep connection to him at that moment, closer to him than I have ever felt knowing that we were brothers who had been completely baptised in fear.
The fear is what I was trying to communicate to you, my dear reader. I've tried to douse you in this fear for a moment.
But this fear was NOTHING compared to the fear our Lord felt in the Garden of Gethsemane.
His entire betrayal, slapping, being spit upon, being mocked, the awful crown of thorns, his clothing gambled for, completely knowing who He is and why he is here, that He could have called batallions of infinitely powerful angels, cherubim and seraphim down at any moment to completely destroy everything in sight and beyond.
He looked at his inculpability before Pilate and yet there would be the scourging which was to take place at Pilate's hands, which Pilate washed publicly and by which tried to rid himself of the guilt for what he was to inflict upon our Lord.
The scourges...the whips of all whips, these had stones tied into them and the cruelest of hooks which bit into the skin and when pulled away took flesh and muscle, nerves and blood vessels and perhaps even pieces of bone if used repeatedly. That these would be used by strong Roman soldiers who could have cared less because they were following orders and who would certainly apply these scourges with all the violence they could muster.
Jesus saw all of this coming. Finally, after surviving the scourging, the final condemnation, carrying of his cross and the crucifixion.
All of this horrible ordeal and yet, not the worst of it. The final and most horrible thing of all, and I am certain this was why Jesus sweated His blood, His Holy Father, Whom He had never been without, Whom He had been with since the beginning, His all, would finally turn His back on His only begotten Son and abandon Him, as the final punishment we all deserve.
Nothing is worse than to have your whole reality be transformed into madness and emptiness. I have tasted this through the ingestion of psychadelic drugs myself many years ago. My world has gone away and my God seemed to turn His back, (Though He was there all the time.- HEB 13:5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.)
I submit that this was His greatest fear. God the Father completely shutting down to Him and leaving Him on his own as he died so alone.
I submit that this loss...the potentiality, that this was what caused Jesus to sweat blood. The prospect of that disconnection. This must have been what Jesus referred to when He asked the Father that this cup be taken from Him, yet the Father's will to prevail, not Jesus the man.
I finally submit that this was indeed the beginning of Jesus paying the penalty for our sins...the contemplation of the ordeal and within those projections, the complete disconnection with the Father.
The sort of fear that causes someone to sweat blood itself.
This was the beginning of all Jesus paid to redeem me and you from the Father's wrath as was visible in Christ's ordeal. We all deserved that sort of punishment. That it was meted out infinitely on a piece of God, Himself, in Jesus...this was the only sacrifice acceptable to God as the final and complete payment for anything a human has done or ever will do.
But we must appropriate this redemption by our own belief that Jesus is the Son of God and that there is no way to the Father but through Him. That He is the Way, the Truth and the Light. That He knocks at the door of our hearts to come in and eat therein with us. All we have to do is to let Him in...ask Him to come in and take control of our miserable lives. For Him to sup with us. He promises to come in and to share nutrition if we open the door of our hearts.
And He is no cosmic Santa Claus, waiting to make life easier and grant all of our wishes. This is about His will, not ours. Do not misunderstand. We are here to confess our sins, turn away from them, and begin to replace our will and our ego with the influence of the Holy Spirit, the Father's comforter sent to us. We will ask for God's will and the power to carry that out and it will be granted and we will walk in that way. And if you think He is not answering your prayers because they don't work out...sure, He's answering them, He's saying "No!" and for good reason.
Truthfully, are we wise enough to know what to ask for? Or are we just following our hearts? Just honestly and without reservation ask for God's will to be done in the matter and you cannot go wrong no matter what the outcome.
Remember the fear He faced for you...if that is enough, ask Him in. If not, I will write more, keep reading.
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