Now There are at least three scenes in the New Testament where attentive Christians feel uncomfortable about how their Savior acts because it seems that he actions are unbecoming of the God-man:
-The Cleansing of the Temple – We think He’s just too angry and Jesus shouldn’t get angry.
– The Miracle of Changing Water into Wine- The excessive provision of fermented drink makes us uneasy.
-The scene in the Garden Gesthsemane – as Jesus faces his death, he seems to lack the courage that mere mortals have displayed in facing their deaths.
During the Marian Persecutions by Queen Mary (aka Bloody Mary) Nicholas Ridley and Hugh Latimer were burned at the stake for their faith in Oxford, England, 1555.
They were tied side by side, and when the fire was lit at their feet, Latimer said (famously):
“Be of good cheer, Ridley, and play the man. We shall this day, by God’s grace, light up such a candle in England, as I trust, will never be put out.” (that’s courage!)
At roughly the same time, John Bradford was burned at the stake with John Leaf.
As the fire was being brought, he said to Leaf, “Be of good comfort, my brother, for we will have a merry supper with the Lord tonight.” Both Bradford and Latimer raised their hands and prayed as they burned.
There are many more similar accounts of Christian men and women who died for their faith with peace in their hearts. Just read Fox’s Book of Martyrs. Now contrast the confidence and joy of these martyrs with the agony, anguish and fainting of Jesus who is clearly shaken by his sufferings. In the gospels we’re regularly confronted with the tremendous power and dignity of Christ who was the judge of the earth, the eternal Son of God. He is the absolutely assured of His sonship to the father yet he trembles at death with more fear than humans much weaker than him. He is different than we have ever seen him and if we think about it, it bothers us.
But why? Tomorrow I’ll begin to unpack what Sinclair Ferguson calls, “one of the most sacred and solemn scenes in the entire Bible.”