What is Love? Part II – Gethsemane

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What Is Love? Part I – Definitions

No discussion of love can be complete without regarding Gethsemane. In this second Garden, the divine love of the Father in the spirit of Jesus wrestled with the soul of Jesus, a war inside one body. This Man who had gone around saying “I and the Father are one” and “When you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father” saw a separate will within himself, self-preservation rising up, self-love. “If there is any other way, let this cup pass from me.” I don’t want to die by execution, have my soul be despised, rejected, and to become sin and have my spirit separated from my Father. Anything but that. Was it wrong to feel this way, wrong to desire a way less painful? Obviously not. Temptation is not sin.

“Let this cup pass from me.” He wrestled, like Jacob with the angel, but Jesus wasn’t saying, “I won’t let you go until you bless me.” It was, “Please, if there’s any other way, get me out of this.” The Father wouldn’t let him off, because Jesus was born to be a blessing for others, broken bread and outpoured wine. In the end Jesus took the sword of the Spirit and ran it through his own desire to be happy, pain-free, and comfortable. “Neverthless, not my will, but Thine be done.” “Who, for the joy set before him, endured the Cross, despising the shame,” the joy of seeing others freed, renewed, made alive, made fit for the company of Heaven.

What choice happened in Gethsemane? All we have are the words of Jesus: “Not My will, but Thine be done.” But we also have the witness of James, who delineates the exact nature of temptation. “Every man is tempted” (including the Man, Jesus) “when he is drawn away by his own strong desire, and enticed.” If there is temptation, there is a Tempter, exciting those desires and pulling on them, stirring us up. To be enticed is to want to do something, to feel the pull of desire, of want. Jesus was enticed to want something other than God’s will for him. He wanted to escape the spirit, soul, and body suffering of the Cross. This was not sin. To want something, and be enticed toward it, is not sin. James continues. “Then, when strong desire has conceived, it brings forth sin…” Strong desire has to be married to something in order to conceive – a choice of the will to have the desired thing, to turn from faith in the sovereign, loving God and instead to reach for what we think is best. It is the choice of Eve in Eden. God hath said, but I am choosing otherwise. We trust our own temporary tunnel vision rather than God’s perfect and all-encompassing sight.

In Gethsemane, this second Garden, Jesus made the opposite choice. He gave up the soulish desire for self-protection, for comfort, ease, and gave in to the divine nature within himself: “I can do nothing of myself” (that is, of his own human power). “The Father in me does the works.” In temptation, Jesus always gave in to the divine nature as the Source and Ground of his being, as the sovereign Director who ordered his footsteps.

When Jesus meets up with Judas and the guards, we see a completely different man than in the preceding hours – human still, potent with passion and feeling, but his humanity subjugated to the eternal plan and purpose of the Father within him. The divine nature within Jesus won out, as always, even in the most intense situations. The essential questions, “Who am I” and “Why am I here?” were answered in a very definite and final victory as he laid down his soul and body life, allowing Jesus to walk as a King through the torture and death of the Cross.

To be continued.

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Winner of 147 Grammys (or so), Ron Block is the banjo-ninja portion of Alison Kraus and Union Station. When he's not laying down a bluegrass-style martial-arts whoopin' on audiences around the world, he's taking care of his donkey named "Trash" and keeping himself busy by being one of the most well-read and thoughtful people we know.


9 Comments

  1. Becca

    Argh. This is putting a serious kink in my cosmic vending machine theology.

    Joking aside, thank you for this reminder, Ron. ‘Powerful words beautifully written.

  2. Loren

    I never quite thought of Gesthemane in this light–Jesus facing the original temptation of trying to put self over God. At least, I hadn’t thought of it in these terms: ‘This Man who had gone around saying “I and the Father are one” and “When you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father” saw a separate will within himself, self-preservation rising up, self-love.’

    It’s almost alarming. A subtle thought reared its head: ‘What if Jesus had succumbed?’ But O the great joy that He did not! Thanks for the insight, Ron.

  3. Tony Heringer

    “We trust our own temporary tunnel vision rather than God’s perfect and all-encompassing sight.” – That connected nicely to thoughts you aroused in my post for part I.

    Loren, that’s a good summation. Jesus is referred to as the second Adam for that reason. He had the same choice as our first parents did but chose God over himself. That Garden becomes a city in Revelation the tree of life is multiplied into an orchard for the healing of the nations. Praise God that He paid our price and rose again to bring us new life now and forever!

    Thanks again Ron. Looking forward to part III.

  4. Lindsey

    “In the end Jesus took the sword of the Spirit and ran it through his own desire to be happy, pain-free, and comfortable. “Neverthless, not my will, but Thine be done.” “Who, for the joy set before him, endured the Cross, despising the shame,” the joy of seeing others freed, renewed, made alive, made fit for the company of Heaven.”

    How true it is that my love for my husband, children, and community is most easily thwarted by my own desire to be “happy, pain-free, and comfortable.” Resentment towards God and man is so often conceived in moments where my comfort is threatened. I love the clarity and power in your words, and am inspired anew to use the sword of the Spirit to pierce my own desires in submission to the will of my Father. Beautifully put. Thank you.

  5. Tom Murphy

    Ron,

    Thanks for taking us to Gethsemane on our way to the Cross in the definition of love. I am looking forward if you have any thoughts about the intersection of love and suffering.

    To a suffering world, we need to have this intersection unpacked in deep and profound ways. In Romans 5:3-5, Paul tells us to rejoice in suffering because it ultimately provides more hope in the Lord. In fact, I am taken up with the “more than that” section of verse 3. The “that” is our justification. In essence, Paul is saying that we are to rejoice more in our suffering than our initial salvivfic relationship with the Lord. Apart from Christ’s Cross and the Spirit’s abiding and indwelling presence within us as His Body, this is utter foolishness. Colossians 1:24-29, towards the end of the chapter, sheds some more light on this as well.

    I have also been quite taken up in the past two months with how forgiveness requires the absorption of another’s debt (in essence being willing to suffer at our expense for the sake of another).

    As always, thanks for your depth of thought and Gospel clarity…It’s refreshing each time I read!

    May His Grace and Peace abide…

  6. David

    Right on with the Garden-to-Garden — Eden to Gethsemane — comparison. Adam and Jesus both had to make a decision about a disobedient bride and a tree. The notable difference was in Jesus’s favor: He had not been complicit in His bride’s sin. And yet while Adam ducked his responsibility, and fobbed it off on Eve, Christ, without any guilt of His own, still took the heat for His Church.

  7. Maurice Lindsay

    I wrote “A Bride for Christ God’s Eternal Purpose”
    I appreciate your Gethsemane discourse; smooth and effective. It is all about the Bride. God’s purpose could not be thwarted, only redirected. All that happened in the Bible was a must that God’s purpose could be consummated in His time. When Adam failed to multiply and replenish the earth, it was necessary to provide One who would. It is all about the will. One who would procreate an obedient people like man, the many brethren like whom Jesus would be the first – fruit among. He is doing that now by conforming His Body to His image, making the Body and the Head compatible as One. I Cor. 6:16, 17.Just as God made a help meet for the first Adam, so He must make one for the Last Adam. One wife for each. Jesus gets to choose His own and then presents it to Himself, a chaste Bride without spot or wrinkle or any such thing. Paul helps a lot. God works in her to will and to do of His good pleasure. Hallelujah and Amen!!

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