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For the next couple of days, at THE CONNECTION STATION,  I’m departing from our “rule” that specific faith-related posts go to “Perspectives“. I hope our Jewish ‘sisters’ won’t mind and our Christian ‘sisters’ will get something significant from my words. And there may be something for the ‘sisters’ who don’t claim either.

It’s Good Friday. A day that must not have seemed so “good” to Jesus who faced agonizing pain and suffering before giving up His spirit about 3:00 p.m. on a Friday afternoon (just before Sabbath began) upon a lonely hillside outside the city walls.

But the events of Friday are not the focus of my thoughts today. I want to return to “The Garden“. A small garden set on the Mount of Olives overlooking the Kidron Valley and the mighty walls of Jerusalem. It was there Jesus and the remaining 10 retired to await what would come. Those burly guys who had followed Jesus for 3 years must have consumed too much wine at their last meal together, for they could not stay awake to be with him. Something not too unfamiliar to us when we’ve gone through agonizing times in our lives.

Jesus walked a short distance to pray. It was the beginning of the ‘end’ of the culmination of his earthly work and he knew what he faced with the day ahead.

It is written that he so agonized, he “sweat blood“. We know now via modern medical research that what most likely happened was what we call “pitikei” (sorry for the phonetic spelling, but have forgotten how to spell the medical term for what probably was going on). “P” is the breaking of small capillaries lying just under the skin & caused by high fever or extreme internal pressure. When the pressure is severe enough, the blood breaks through the skin.

I’ve often wondered what it was specifically he agonized over. I’m sure the thought of the extreme pain and agony of crucifixion would have been enough. But I think there was more. . . and it’s apropos for us as well.

Was there a speck of doubt in his mind that what His PAPA told him would be the case - would indeed be the case? Jesus was after all, human as well as divine. And our humanity finds ‘faith’ easy when the culmination of a promise-made is afar off; but not so easy when we are walking into it! He had much of what we call the “beatific vision“, but not all. It was an unfolding realization, just as the realization of our full destiny unfolds before us.

Was it the suspicion that something of awesome value would be taken from him - if only for a brief time? No, not his earthly life - but the direct, uninterrupted communication with His ABBA. Would he have known that would happen? I suspect not totally. Otherwise, he might not have called “Father,  

Father why have you forsaken me?” But he might have had just a slight inkling his wonderful complete connection with DAD would vanish just at the moment He needed PAPA the most!

I’m reminded of those awesome lines from the song “Gethsemane” in “Jesus Christ Superstar“. . .  

“Lord, your way is hard. But you hold all the cards.” He does. . . whether we want to admit it or not! And Jesus knew that better than anyone else.

We will not know the full reason for His agony in the garden that terrible night before the dawn - until we are in a place at some future point where we can ask for a full explanation while dining at table with Him. But I think we can surmise much of what it was that caused an internal stress so fierce the capillaries under his skin burst open and spilled blood through the pores on his face!

We see the picture from the other side of the ‘veil‘. We know the end of the story. Those who lived in His day did not. And they were devastated by the events that followed. We know what followed & can prepare to rejoice when Sunday comes!

But the true point of today’s Good Friday post is to draw a parallel for our own lives. While we may never have to endure the pain associated with physical crucifixion, we do endure emotional pain that ‘crucifies’ our soul. Pain that hurts to the marrow of our bones. Pain that turns the light of day into the dark of night so deep we loose all sense of ourselves. Pain that we wonder if it will ever go away and life will spring up again.

We will agonize over something. . . once, twice, perhaps three or more times in our lives. We may not sweat blood, but the stress and heartache we feel will cause our hearts to bleed with sorrow.

And many times - those who love us the most - will walk away. Fall asleep at the very time we need them the most. Perhaps out of fear of what they see happening in our lives. Most often because they simply don’t have answers to help us through the “dark night of the soul“. And a great many times because ‘passionate pain’ is simply not attractive and folks can be utterly repelled by it’s presence in our life!

And on rare occasions for those of us who believe - we wonder. We doubt that even an omnipotent God can pull us out of this one! We may have heard the promise of much better things to come; but in the midst of the “garden” our humanity simply resorts to “wondering” if we heard correctly? And even the voices of those who want to help but don’t know how - shout words meant to encourage only to have them hit a wall of “I hear, but I simply can’t receive!”

So many metaphors dot sacred Scripture(s) (yes there are pieces of the truth everywhere). Metaphors that point to experiences we will or have had. Metaphors designed to give us hope, confidence, assurance, inspiration, encouragement! Metaphors that point the way out of “the garden“.

So as many of us pause to remember in the hours that commemorate that first “good Friday” so long ago on the hill of the “skull” outside the city’s walls - let us not be discouraged, but remember. . . .

Remember that when Friday came - the first day of the week (Sunday) was not far behind!

May each of you be blessed on this day with miracles too numerous to mention; but not too many to count!

Linda, a fellow journeyer
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