Last night my husband and I sat on the couch, watching the news, both feeling heartbroken over the terrorist attacks in Belgium. Our commentary as we watched the reporters share updates from Brussels only deepened our hurt. We caught ourselves saying things like, “This seems to happen so often, you think we’d be used to these stories by now” and “Do you remember the absolutely shock that we felt during 9/11? That pure stunned shock fades with each new attack, it’s sad.” It is sad. It’s sad that worldwide terrorist attacks have practically become an assumed new normal. It’s not if a new attack occurs, it’s always when. We know it’s coming, we just don’t know when or how.
Then, my husband said something that stopped me in my tracks. He said, “So, how do we live like Jesus?”
I thought he meant, “So, how do we continue to move forward with love toward everyone despite their ethnic, racial, sexual, or religious identity? How do we prevent these things from affecting how we look at people?” but that’s not what he meant at all. What he actually meant was, “So, knowing that evil acts are continually ahead of us, how do we continue to wake up each morning and face the new day with courage?” He then went on to discuss the final week of Jesus’ life and the occurrences on the Mount of Olives.
During the final week of Jesus’ life he visited the Mount of Olives three times.
The first visit was to speak to his Disciples, primarily about the end of times and the second coming of Christ. The second visit was the triumphal entry. The third visit was the night when Jesus was betrayed by Judas Iscariot for 30 pieces of silver. It was this third visit that my husband was referring to when he talked about the courage of Jesus. It was on this third visit that Jesus took His disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane which is located on the western slope of the Mount of Olives. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed in agony as He contemplated the horrible acts that would soon fall upon him. In fact, Jesus was so overcome by the horror of what He was to experience in the crucifixion the following day that His sweat was “like drops of blood” (Luke 22:44) and God sent an angel from heaven to strengthen Him.
What my husband was asking me was this: In the face of the horrors that occur across the world every day and knowing that we could be caught up in these horrors at any moment, how do we channel the courage of Jesus from His final days?
Think about it for a second.
When Jesus was on the Mount of Olives on that third visit He knew what was coming. It was not a surprise to Him. He knew why He was here and He knew what was about to befall Him. He knew that He would be betrayed by a man He had called ‘friend.’ He knew that He would be mocked, whipped, beaten, stabbed, and crucified. He knew that He would be tortured beyond belief and that He would die to provide salvation to those that had turned against Him.
Can you imagine? Can you really imagine how Jesus must have felt? What he must have been thinking? Do you know what courage it must have taken to face the day, face Judas, face His accusers, face His torturers, and accept His death.
Jesus knew what was coming, yet He went to it bravely.
We don’t know what is coming, yet we fear what might occur at any moment.
What has always stood out to me about Jesus’ third visit to the Mount of Olives prior to his crucifixion was that He “prayed in agony” as He contemplated the horrible acts that were about to befall Him.
Prayed in agony.
Do you know how intensely you must pray to pray in agony? Can you process the overwhelming grief, anger, and fear that must be consuming your soul for you to “pray in agony” and sweat drops of blood? It’s fierce and it’s powerful when you are this completely engrossed in seeking God to be with you and help you through a challenging time; this is exactly what we must all do right now.
We must pray. Urgently.
During these days when you can be shot for calling Uber, going to a movie, or walking down the street, we need to pray.
During these days when you can be a bombing victim because you work in the wrong building, are flying from the wrong airport, or ran in the wrong marathon, we need to pray.
There is truly no other way, friends. We have to pray, in agony, like Jesus did on the Mount of Olives. Then, we need to find our strength in the Father, like Jesus did, and wake up each morning with the courage to live for Him in each new day.