In God’s infinite wisdom He knew ahead of time that this fall of man in the Garden of Eden would cost the future incarnation for Jesus the Son of God and the second Person of the Trinity, His difficult human ministry on earth (Isa. 53:3-5), the crucifixion, and the resurrection. Yet on the night before His crucifixion, Jesus amazingly says to His disciples: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (Jn. 14:27).
Jesus is saying that even amidst the upcoming horrors of His arrest, trial, beating, rejection, ridicule, mocking, crucifixion, and death, that He has perfect divine peace. Jesus can truly say this because His peace is founded upon an unselfish love for us that is infinite in its scope, dimensions, and outreach. Yet in the Garden of Gethsemane, even this infinite divine love is stretched to the point of novel and unprecedented challenge as Jesus contemplates the awful ordeal of absorbing the full weight of the sins of the world placed upon Himself on the cross (Lk. 22:42).
God is telling us through the life of Jesus that our impulsive attempt at a shortcut to the knowledge of good and evil will also cost us a similar hard road of first-hand experience to discover God’s perfect peace amidst daunting challenge, adversity, and suffering. The hard reality of a joint-venture with God down the road to the discovery of “all truth” involves the fullness of experience that must honestly and courageously be encountered in a God-composed journey of faith for Christians living in the danger zone. This danger zone extends even to the breaking point of having to give up our will and way regarding the big issues at stake in life.
But in terms of a God-composed journey of faith life-script following the pattern of the way of the cross, the theme of this book and arguably one of the main themes of the Bible, is that adversity, challenge, and suffering separates us from self-sovereignty.
Faith in the rigorous training methods of the great football coach…separation from the self-sovereignty of thinking that we know what is best…results in a winning season (1 Cor. 9:24-26; Gal. 2:20).
It is the fundamental tension between the strong pull of worldly conventional normalcy, and the totally unconventional way of the cross… that lies at the central core of every biblical narrative story of faith. This is the razor-sharp edge that separates out each genuine experience of faith and trust in God…for our benefit and instruction (2 Tim. 3:16)…often tested through the furnace of immediate personal danger and the real potential for overwhelming, crushing defeat.
If the competence, faithfulness, and overall intentions of Jesus Christ our King and Ruler…for all eternity…must be experientially tried and confirmed through a joint-venture expedition of faith through the context of this broken world lost in sin, then the excess baggage of our claim to self-sovereignty must go.
If some measure of adversity, challenge, and suffering will accomplish this separation from our self-sovereignty…then it is God’s positive intention to set-up the precise circumstances for this to occur for each believer…for our eternal good. This is what we see in the narrative stories of faith in the Bible. This is why these real-life stories serve as the pattern for our own faith journeys.
This is the dangerous part of following the living God into a genuine journey of faith that we see portrayed in the lives of the people of faith recorded in the Bible. This is the epitome of being accountable, of not quitting early, and of breaking through…so that we may someday at the end of our own journey of faith, commendably say along with Jesus: “It is finished” (Jn. 19:30).