I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20
From The Christian Church in the Last Days
The idea that God is the author of life-plans that lead to situations and circumstances requiring complete dependence upon God, with successful resolutions generating the broadest possible spiritual benefits, is a theme that runs throughout the Bible. The life-plan of Jesus Christ the Son of God, which culminates in the crucifixion and resurrection, is the perfect example of this concept. Hebrews 5:8-9 reads “Though he were a son, yet learned he obedience by the things that he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” The lessons that Jesus (the second Person of the Trinity) needed to experience first-hand for Himself through a life lived in a human body here on earth, in order to become the qualified leader able to help us to repent, trust, and surrender our lives to Him, came to a focal point at the events surrounding the crucifixion.
We discover in God’s own plan scripted for His Son Jesus at the cross, that circumstances were so challenging that Jesus had to exercise perfect faith, trust, dependence, and reliance in God the Father, approaching the limits of His own divine capacity, to achieve a successful outcome. The fact that the scripture says that Jesus learned obedience by the things that He suffered, tells us that Jesus went through the experience of dependence and reliance upon God the Father, just like we do. Even the Son of God, when living within the limitations of a human body, must confront and deal with the same issues we do (Hebrews 4:15).
Humans cannot fathom the depths of God’s divine love. The agony of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane is partially a mystery (Mark 14:34). But God included in the New Testament gospels this record of the struggle of Jesus in Gethsemane, with honesty and candor for a reason.
This author does not claim to fully understand the duality of the divinity of Jesus Christ and His human nature, which forms the bond between His earthly experience and our personal walk of faith, for all eternity. I do not claim to understand the dynamics of the Trinity, in which God is One, yet three distinct Persons enjoying loving friendship in unity from eternity past. Jesus Christ the Son of God cries out from the cross “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” More painful than the crucifixion itself was Jesus’ momentary separation from the Father, as a result of taking upon Himself the sins of the world. Hebrews 2:9 tells us that Jesus tasted the bitterness of death for every man, so that we would never have to experience this intense agony of separation from God. Jesus tells His followers that He will never leave nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). Because of the sacrifice of Jesus in Gethsemane and at Calvary, born-again Christians will never have to say, over the long expanse of eternity, “My God, why have you forsaken me?”
Yet however we try to reach a balanced comprehension of the divinity and humanness of Jesus, this account of the agony of Jesus in Gethsemane tells us that Jesus approached the Father for strength just as He did on several occasions, retiring alone sometimes all night to pray (Matthew 14:23; Luke 6:12). God is telling us in this Gethsemane account that Jesus did not attempt to go it alone in self-reliance in facing the upcoming ordeal of the cross. God is telling us with tender, frank, and forthcoming honesty about the depths of His own struggle in this balanced-on-a-razor’s edge, monumentally volatile plan of salvation through the cross and the resurrection, designed for our redemption.
We therefore find that in the Garden of Gethsemane, on the night before the trial and crucifixion, that Jesus experiences difficulty with the completion of His calling and must rely upon the Father for the strength and endurance to be the Lamb-of-God sacrifice for the sins of the world. Even though Jesus knows from childhood that this is the future destiny of His earthly life, when the moment finally approaches, the highest features of divine character are pushed to the limits (if that is possible with God in a human body) of Jesus’ own endurance in offering Himself for the sins and transgressions of mankind. This is why Jesus said with relief and triumph just before He died on the cross: “It is finished.”
In the Garden of Gethsemane, God reveals to us openly and candidly that His own plan devised to transfer to the second Person of the Trinity the weight of the sins of mankind through the Son of God’s atonement on the cross…was not all that easy, even for Jesus. Otherwise Jesus would have breezed through the Garden of Gethsemane without saying his soul was heavy unto death, or having to pray “more earnestly”, or asking the Father to remove this cup of suffering from Him, or sweating drops of blood while praying, or having one of the great angels from heaven (possibly Gabriel), visit Him for comfort and support.
In this life-script that God crafted for Himself, we see a level of moral character that instructs us as to the heights of what we can expect in our own spiritual journey. God does not ask us from a comfortably safe distance to step into the risk and adventure of the Christian life. God will not challenge us to the core of our being in terms of character, faith, trust, and reliance upon God, that in times of persecution may even cost the Christian his or her life, without Himself having also shared this similar experience. God composed and orchestrated His own life here on earth in such a way that, in regard to all of life’s critical issues, He challenged Himself through the experience of the cross. This set the example for us to have a foreglimpse of what is involved in a walk of faith with God. Because Christ lives within the believer’s heart, we have the one and only Person helping us “from the inside” who has successfully been through the cross and resurrection experience ahead of us.