Then he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.” In his anguish he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down on the ground. Luke 22:41-42, 44
If I could see into the future, and if I knew this would be my last evening on earth, how would I choose to spend it? I might decide to cram as much frolic and debauchery into the evening as possible. There would be no concern about the personal consequences of my actions, because I would be dead tomorrow, anyway. There are a host of sins I might decide to commit in my attempt to stuff as much fun into my final moments as possible. On the other hand, I might decide to spend my last evening on earth quietly, with those I have grown closest to. I might want to make certain they have the information only I can share. I might want to assure myself that those I leave behind will be okay.
While none of us knows exactly when our physical death will occur, all of us know death will come. Jesus, however, knew the when and the how of his death. He foresaw his betrayal into the hands of the Temple guards, his sham trials, and his being handed over to the Roman authorities for crucifixion. He knew, in a few short hours, he would be beaten, scourged, spat upon, humiliated, and nailed to a cross for the most excruciating death imaginable. He also knew he would suffer and die on behalf of his own murders.
Jesus chose to spend his final hours as one with more tasks on his to-do list than hours remaining to accomplish them. He shared his final meal with his closest friends. There was a lot of instruction shared by Jesus during this closing evening, knowing that was his last opportunity to teach. The Gospel of John tells of a moving act of humility, when Jesus washes the feet of his disciples (John 13:1-11). The other Gospels record Jesus instituting communion at his last supper, as in Luke 22:14-23. Shortly before his arrest, he went to a quiet garden to pray. It would be difficult for me to decide how best to spend my last hours on earth. Jesus had a plan, however, that would lay the foundation for His church. Jesus spent his last hours on earth accomplishing what only he could know would be required for our salvation, today.
Come home to church this Sunday. Witness the risen Christ in the body of His church!