Devotional Week 11 Friday
“Therefore because He stooped so low, God has highly exalted Him and has freely bestowed on Him the name that is above every name. That at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth. And every tongue openly confess and acknowledgethat Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Philippians 2: 9-11
Hail, Thou Once Despised Jesus
“Hail, Thou once despised Jesus!
Hail, Thou Galilean King!
Thou didst suffer to release us;
Thou didst free salvation bring.
Hail, Thou agonizing Savior,
Bearer of our sin and shame!
By Thy merits we find favor;
Life is given Through Thy name.”
Today’s Study Text:
“And (Jesus) was saying, ‘Abba, which means Father, everything is possible for you. Take away this cup from me; yet not what I will, but what you will.”
Mark 14: 36
“How To Deal With Bitterness”
“The Bitter Cup” Part X
“(Jesus) has been where we are, and He walks with us and weeps with us. And with your tears He can water the seeds of character planted by pain.”
Stephen Arterburn and
Are there times when I have asked God to please remove the “bitter cup” I am drinking from in my own life?
What experience have I faced that I refer to as a “bitter cup”?
Have I ever looked back on a bitter situation in my life only to later recognize that God brought me through the event in order that I might be able to help others who were hurting, too?
“No matter how serious your present problems may be, no matter how hopeless the situation may seem, take heart! You are not alone. You have a sympathetic high priest who can enter into all your problems, for they have been His problems too.”
Christ and Your Problems
“Jesus did not come to explain suffering nor to take it away; He came to fill it with His presence.”
Within a few hours, we find that Dr. Luke, one of Jesus’ most loyal followers, writes in Luke 22 about two cups. The first cup is mentioned in Luke 22: 17, “And He (Jesus) took a cup, and when He had given thanks, He said, ‘Take this and divide and distribute it among yourselves: For I say to you that from now on I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine at all until the kingdom of God comes” (Luke 22: 17, 18, Amplified Bible). This to me is what I love to call Christ’s “Cup of Promise” for not only is this cup a “new testament or covenant ratified by Christ’s blood, which is shed (poured out) for you,” as Jesus told His disciples, but this cup holds the promise of your salvation and mine, and we also find, that it carries the promise that not until the day when Christ’s family on earth and in heaven is unified for eternity will Christ partake of this cup again.
Yet we find in Luke 22, just a few hours after partaking of the “Cup of Promise” with those closest to Him, after making His way through the darkness of Gethsemane, Jesus was handed the “Bitter Cup” as Luke 22: 41-42 paints in graphic detail: “And He (Jesus) withdrew from them about a stone’s throw and knelt down and prayed, saying, ‘Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but always Yours be done.”
I found it instructive to read what Pastor and Author George Matheson wrote regarding the “bitter cup” which we find is a cup we each will endure in our lives when we face the question, “Will we place our ‘will’ in the control of our Father?” As Matheson notes: “The cup which our Father gives us to drink is a cup for the will…for not on the heights of Calvary, but in the shadows of Gethsemane is the cup presented.”
Often I have read the words in the gospels and thought about the great weight of sin which was carried by Jesus, while I ignored or skipped over the fact that the battle fought in the Garden of Gethsemane was a war of wills – would Jesus do what He wanted to do as a human at a time of sorrow and suffering or would He do what He knew was the will of His Father – the eternal will that would bring harmony once again within the universe.
In his thought-provoking book, The Jesus I Never Knew, author Philip Yancey writes that “Jesus was by no means powerless. If He had insisted on His will and not the Father’s, He could have called down twelve legions of angels (72,000 angels!!) to fight a Holy War on His behalf…after several hours of tortuous prayer, Jesus came to a resolution. His will and the Father’s converged.”
This particular statement reminded me of words I read in a little book called Thoughts For The Quiet Hour, a daily devotional compiled by Pastor D. L. Moody. In this thoughtful collection of quotations from a wide-variety of Christians, I found these words from F. Faber, “There are no disappointments to those whose wills are buried in the will of God.” As the disciple Matthew recorded the words of Jesus in Matthew 26: 39, “Not as I will, but as Thou wilt.”
In his book, Can You Drink the Cup?, Henri J. M. Nouwen gets to the core of how we choose to live our lives when he, too, focuses on the alignment of our personal will in life with that of our heavenly Father. Nouwen points out that, “holding the cup means looking critically at what we are living. This requires great courage, because when we start looking, we might be terrified at what we see…Doubts may come up about things we thought we were sure about. Fear may emerge from unexpected places. We are tempted to say: ‘Let’s just live life.’…Holding the cup of life is a hard discipline.” And yet as Jesus said, “Not My will but Thine be done.” This was the driving force that kept the “bitter cup” in the hand of our Savior for in the final moments of struggle in the Garden of Gethsemane, when death seemed better than life, when sorrow appeared to prevail and loneliness encompassed Jesus’ world at that moment; when the ‘spirit was willing, but the flesh was weak; when humanity begged to be delivered; and as the carpenter, Jesus, “peered into the dark pit and (begged) ‘Can’t there be another way?’” as author Max Lucado so eloquently asks, “What was it that kept Jesus’ will in line with His Father’s will?”
Here’s the answer from Max Lucado’s pen:
“We do know (Jesus) begged for an exit. We do know there was a time when if He could have, He would have turned His back on the whole mess and gone away. But He couldn’t. He couldn’t because He saw you. Right there in the middle of a world which isn’t fair. He saw you cast into a river of life you didn’t request. He saw you betrayed by those you love. He saw you with a body which gets sick and a heart which grows weak. He saw you in your own garden of gnarled trees and sleeping friends. He saw you staring into the pit of your own failures and the mouth of your own grave. He saw you in your Garden of Gethsemane – and He didn’t want you to be alone. He wanted you to know that He had been there, too!...It was in the garden that He made His decision. He would rather go to hell for you than go to heaven without you.”
When in our own Garden of Gethsemane we find ourselves drinking from the “bitter cup” of some great sorrow or bitter disappointment, we may find, that as author J.R. Miller encourages, “the very thing we ask, God does not grant, because He is able to do something infinitely better for us. We ask only for bodily help or relief, and He sees that we need far more…He answers our soul’s needs before He gratifies our personal wishes…We ask for the lifting away of a burden or the averting of a sorrow; our plea is not granted in form, but instead we receive a new impartation of the power of Christ, or an angel comes from heaven and ministers to us. Thus many times our little prayers are really over-answered.”
As we find in Luke 22: 42, 43, when Jesus was faced with the “bitter cup,” His loving Father responded and, “there appeared to Him an angel from heaven, strengthening Him in Spirit.”
In those times in your life, when the taste of the “bitter cup” overwhelms you like a wave and you feel as though you are passing through turbulent waters all alone, may these words from the pen of the poet, Dorothy Frances Gurney encourage your heart – for “One” draws near, and the soul of your world, no matter how very bitter it may be at this moment, through Him, will find ease:
“The Lord God planted a garden
In the first white days of the world,
And He set there an Angel warden
In a garment of light enfurled.
So near to the peace of Heaven
The hawk might nest with the wren,
For there in the cool of the even
God walked with the first of men.
And I dream that these garden closes
With their shade and their sun-flecked sod,
And their lilies and bowers of roses
Were laid by the hand of God.
The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of birds for mirth, -
One is nearer God’s heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on earth.
For He broke it for us in a garden
Under the olive-trees
Where the angel of strength was the warden
And the soul of the world found ease.”
Dorothy Frances Gurney
“Behold, what manner of love is this, that Christ should be arraigned and we adorned, that the curse should be laid on His head and the crown set on ours.”
“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah, be with you all. Now to Him Who is able to strength you in the faith which is in accordance with the gospel and the preaching concerning Jesus Christ, according to the revelation, the unveiling of the mystery of the plan of redemption which was kept in silence and secret for long ages, but is now disclosed and through the prophetic Scriptures is made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to win them to obedience to the faith, to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ the Anointed One!”
Romans 16: 24-27
“What sort of world was it then
To enter into,
Forlorn and cold
With winter old and comfortless?
No place to be
Or reason that we
To justify this priceless gift.
For who are we –
The greedy, shiftless, proud and mean
To merit bounty thus In such complete entirety?
So who has watched us here,
Has seen or need
And heard our bitter battles,
And our feeble efforts at
Who looked at us
And saw a reason for redemption?
What love was this
To come in poverty
To have no place to be,
To suffer mockery
And death before due time?
What love is this
That came against the odds,
That still endures,
And with mysterious power
Redeems the irredeemable
For all infinity?”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus