Two new thoughts came to me last night, during a Bible study with two pals:
We were studying Psalm 11 and there’s a cross reference to Matthew 26:39 “Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; but not as I will, but as You will.”
I found a note that says simply ‘The cup Jesus dreaded was the cup that contained the wrath of God against sin;’ and this chimed perfectly with something I heard on Good Friday, that for three hours, and then for three days, Jesus was abandoned by God. Jesus became sin (our sin) and so was unacceptable to the God who loved Him. And the new thought I had as I listened to the message was that in this time, these 3 hours, 3 days, Jesus was unacceptable to His own divinity. Not only was the curtain in the temple torn, but the very nature of God was torn in two for us. God Himself became unacceptable to God. Now, my Pastor would say immediately ‘Is this Biblical?’ and I don’t have a verse to fly to… but I have the canon, the weight of the Bible; That Jesus is God (I and the Father are one… If you have seen me, you have seen the Father. I AM.) That God is wholly righteous, and cannot tolerate sin (Isiah 59:2). That God loved Jesus (“This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased’) That Jesus felt abandoned (‘My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”‘)
Previously I had read ‘let this cup pass from me’ to refer to the suffering, the crucifixion. I had never before realised that it also meant the cup of God’s wrath, His righteous burning anger against sin. Wow. I am stunned at the depth and complexity and the heart-breaking wholeness of the Gospel of God’s love.
And then, more prosaically, something that will give me my next children’s talk; I had a stonking great big Easter talk lined up, with a fabulous video, but then my slot was used for something else, so I’ve been trying to work out how to shoe-horn the Easter story into a non-Easter week. Painful! But this is the solution – a new thought, a new illustration, and just so simple: People who don’t keep themselves in the love of God end up living as if they are on the dark side of the moon. The sun is always out there, always shining, but they are never in a position to receive its warmth or light. They are like the prodigal son of Luke 15, who was always loved by his father, but for a time didn’t benefit from that love. Sometimes the simplest thought is the gift we need.
Tomorrow is Sunday. A day of delight and joy, of worship and bounding gratitude. I may be a flat footed old trout, but in my heart on a Sunday I am a leaping wriggling Labrador puppy, tail wagging, full of joy for the moment, not much thought of tomorrow, no need to think of yesterday. Just full of thoughts of God. And I want to protect those thoughts, I want to look after that Labrador puppy.