2006-01-12 - No Options
Originally Published 2002-01-10
Matt 26:39 And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as Thou wilt." (NAS)
Have you ever been confronted with a painful choice where the only real option means severe personal sacrifice? Many of us have to one degree or another.
When I was a young man, the girl I was dating called and asked if I wanted to go on a tour of the Pentagon. Well, I was very happy with the idea of spending time with her, but not overly excited about where we were going. Then she reminded me her father worked in the Pentagon. Suddenly things took on a more interesting turn. We would not be trapped in some impersonal group with a very knowledgeable, but busy tour guide. We were the only two on the tour with someone who knew more than he could actually tell us. It was very interesting.
About three-quarters of the way through the tour we walked past a monument with a number of names carved into the face. These were all of the men and women who had been awarded the Medal of Honor. I was struck by the now seemingly smaller number of names than I expected. Many of these people had made the ultimate sacrifice giving their lives to save others in the service of their country. While the rest of the day was interesting, this moment still remains with me today. When the options were limited - when it was die to save others or die anyway, these individuals acted so that others could live.
Another moment still remains with me too. My date and I went out for a snack later that evening alone. It was only then that she started to perk up. We were talking about the things we had seen, or I realized that I was talking about them. It finally dawned on me that she had known that this would be a great deal of fun for me even though she had seen it many times before. She gave up her afternoon for me. It was a sacrifice not on the same level, but a sacrifice none the less. We changed the subject to something we were both interested in and the rest of the evening went on so that we could both enjoy it. She had several options, and she chose the one that put herself last for me.
In the passage above, Jesus is praying with the Father about His options. It is clear that the plan that has been in place since before time began will not be turned away from by Jesus. But, "if there is any other way …" the Lord asks, let's take that path instead. Jesus knew that the road ahead meant that He would become sin for us. He had never known sin. He would be separated from the Father for a moment when the Father turned His back on sin. Jesus had never been separated from the Father in all of eternity. The road ahead meant scourging, beatings, mocking by His own creation - being humiliated, cursed and spit on by those He came to love and to save. If there were any other way … But there was no other way.
There is a line of thinking that is popular in some circles that says, "All roads lead to God." Well, Jesus went to the cross because there was no other way. If this one way is exclusive of all other ways, then all roads can not lead to God. This was the only way The Law, which could not be set aside, could be satisfied. The painful way. The way that helped us who did not have the power to help ourselves. If Jesus does not take the way of personal sacrifice, His beloved creation is doomed. And, so out of mercy, grace and compassion - Jesus walks the way to the cross in order to make the only way for us.
Matt 7:13-14 "Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. 14 "For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it. (NAS)
Don't look for a gate. Find the narrow gate.
Lord Jesus - there will never be another act of bravery, compassion and selflessness that matches what You did for us. You opened the narrow gate so that there might be a way for those who will hear Your call and come to be saved. Thank you - Amen.