During tonight’s Maundy Thursday service, after our youth performed their drama about the Last Supper, I referred to Jesus’ prayer, shortly after supper, in the Garden of Gethsemane. There he asked his Father to “take this cup away,” meaning the cup of God’s wrath that would otherwise be poured out on us humans in final judgment.
Sinners deserve to have their prayers go unanswered. Jesus was the only human being in history who deserved to have all his prayers answered because of his perfect life. Yet he was turned down as if he cherished iniquity in his heart [Psalm 66:18]. Why?
The answer, of course, is in the gospel. God treated Jesus as we deserve-he took our penalty-so that, when we believe in him, God can then treat us as Jesus deserved (2 Cor 5:21). More specifically, Jesus’ prayers were given the rejection that we sinners merit so that our prayers could have the reception that he merits.[†]
As I said last night, the Father said “no” to his Son so that he could later say “yes” to those of us who believe in his Son. Even in the midst of the gloom and sadness of these dark days leading up to Easter Sunday, this is very good news for us!
The short movie above is from my trip to the Holy Land in 2011. The pictures and video are from the Garden of Gethsemane.
† Timothy Keller, Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God (New York: Dutton, 2014), 237-8.