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Devotionals

The Crushing Place

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The Crushing Place - Making Sense of the Senseless

 

Matthew 26: 36-38 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me."

 

The 26th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew tells the acceleration of the end of Jesus ministry here on earth. Jesus being anointed at Bethany, Judas agreeing to betray Him, the Last Supper, the arrest and Peter's denial are all part of this chapter. Tucked in the middle however is the visit Jesus makes to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray before He is betrayed and arrested. The name Gethsemane is the transliteration of the Aramaic "Gat-Shemanim" which means 'oil press' or the "crushing place." What a fitting name as this was the place where Jesus was crushed in His spirit as He knew He was facing the end. Gethsemane is the place where the weight of the world rested upon His shoulders. Where things almost didn't make much sense. It is the place where Jesus was tempted to give up:

 

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." Matthew 26: 39

 

The crushing place is where we start to possibly doubt the plan of God. Jesus here prays that what He knows is ahead for Him might be taken from Him. Jesus is admitting in all of His humanity that He does not want to face the coming trials. Yet in all of His Godhead He recognizes the ultimate sovereignty of God and defers to the will of the Father. Jesus is crushed so badly in Gethsemane that in the Gospel of Luke He is portrayed as literally sweating blood.

 

We all face the crushing place in our lives as well. We all get to the point where things cease to make sense. When what is going on around us begins to overwhelm us. Where we perhaps start to question God, His role in the events of this world, and in our own lives personally. We look around and see the state the world is in and wonder why. We see the callousness and wonder why. This past week brought us closer to the heart of darkness that lies within man as we watched Jared Loughner walk into a Safeway in Arizona and attempt to assassinate a sitting United States Congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords. Not satisfied with firing a bullet into her head, Jared Loughner than proceeded to kill six other people, including a nine year old girl. This past week, the crushing place was in Tucson Arizona. The place where I dropped to my knees and asked why. Perhaps you may have as well. Either way, we all visit Gethsemane at different points in our walk with God. The place where we feel that weight upon us. The place where we ask God to take it from us. The place where the agony seems like we will sweat blood. The place where we try to make sense of the senseless.

As always, we need to look to the Word of God when we seek answers. The story of Gethsemane provides interesting answers for us as we face the uncertainty of humanity within our world and our lives. First of all, we should realize that Jesus chose to go into the crushing place and he did so to pray. He could have easily prayed where they had gathered for the Last Supper earlier in the day. He could have chosen anywhere to pray. But Jesus chose to face the crushing place. He chose to face the fears He had. He chose to face the problem head on. That is also how God intends for us to deal with the doubt and pain we experience. We live in a society that encourages covering up problems and avoiding them. Most medication is designed to disguise symptoms as opposed to resolve problems. That is not the way God has outlined for us however:

 

Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4: 8-10

 

God does not want the senselessness we face in humanity to drive us away from Him. He wants us to draw closer to Him! Then He will draw closer to us. In our humility we will be lifted up. It is so sad that it is events such as the Giffords shooting that will cause some doubters to doubt God even more. They will take the actions of man and lay it at the feet of God. The hardened heart rarely sees God in anything. They seek the opposite.

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