Miracles, Part II

The big thing – not just in miracles, but in living a “life of faith” constantly, which is all that Christianity is, — is for us to discover insofar as we are able, exactly what God’s will is for our lives, and to live or walk accordingly.  This is the way Christ lived when he was visibly here upon earth, and it is that very kind of life he wants to and will live in our lives today.  This is what is meant by the statement that he was “led of the Spirit” even into temptation in the desert, etc.  He was not asking himself every five minutes, “Lord, what will you have me to do?”, though he certainly did ask that question often, spending entire nights sometimes in prayer before making big decisions, such as choosing his twelve disciples.  Rather, he was so possessed of the Holy Spirit, as we can and should be, that he intuitively, instinctively, automatically did God’s will, perfectly.

This will help explain one of the most puzzling stories in Scripture, namely, Jesus’ agony (the only occurrence of that word in the Bible) in Gethsemane.  Hebrew 7:7,8 says that his prayer was “heard”!  Was it, in the sense of being “answered”? Some say that he was not asking to be spared the cross; he told his disciples that he had to be crucified.  His horror – say they – was the possibility that that infinite sacrifice, done “willingly” enough, might be in vain, what with every “follower” of his defecting, and his work dying with him.  This, happily, didn’t happen, and perhaps the encouraging angel of Gethsemane reminded him of Isa. 53:10-12.

More possibly, Christ was literally agonizing as to whether it really was God’s will that he should die, not that it was Christ’s will (not to) versus God’s certainly that he would.  True, the Scriptures predicted it, but the same God had commanded Abraham to sacrifice Isaac.  Both “murders” were obviously contrary to God’s desires”, divine declarations as to what should be and what should not.  Christ’s entire life was lived with the tension between hoping against hope people would accept, receive, believe in him, and “knowing” they would not.  (Hence the tears over Jerusalem.)  Hence the tears too at Lazarus’ grave, when he could have reached Bethany before his friend died, but God’s will was that he loiter.  Jesus was “party” to the death of Jairus’ daughter when it was God’s will to have a woman with a twelve-year malady delay him.

While Jesus did prepare his disciples (and himself) for his death by predicting it, the possibility or desirability of avoiding it was always for him (to whom any death is abhorrent, especially of one completely undeserving) a real temptation.  When Peter tried to discourage him from talking about the subject, Christ called him a tool of the devil!

It might help to clarify this point if we say that Jesus’ blood-sweating anguish to discover the will of God (which had often caused him sleepless nights) was a matter of timing (not whether, but when!).  Frequently he had refused to die or let himself be killed (if that’s all there was to being our Savior), but “his hour had not yet come”.  Here now is the awful question, “Is this really it?  No more final warnings, no more opportunity to preach, no more hurting people to heal?  Father, is this your will, now?  Have I misread you and your word, who take no delight in the death of any one, much less the innocent?  Is there some wonderful way out, as in the case of Abraham with Isaac?

We know that our blessed Savior won through, prayed “through.”  An angel, a messenger from God himself, came with an answer.  Christ went to the cross confidently, composed.  And somehow it is easier to think that it was because of angelic, divine confirmation as to what God’s will was for that very moment rather than the alignment of his “natural” desire with what he clearly and certainly knew to be God’s in that unholy hour.  He had lived too long and “naturally” with such merging of two wills, in doing things sometimes humanly undesirable and seemingly un-divine, to have such hell in reconciliation of the two at this late date.

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