“Then he said to them, ‘My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.’
And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying,
‘My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will’…
Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed,
‘My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.’”
Matthew 26:38-39, 42
Jesus endured the wrath of God for us. All of it, entirely poured out on Him. This isn’t a light thing.
Read through this description in Isaiah: “Behold, the name of the Lord comes from afar, burning with his anger, and in thick rising smoke; his lips are full of fury, and his tongue is like a devouring fire; his breath is like an overflowing stream that reaches up to the neck; to sift the nations with the sieve of destruction…And the Lord will cause his majestic voice to be heard and the descending blow of his arm to be seen, in furious anger and a flame of devouring fire, with a cloudburst and storm and hailstones…For a burning place has long been prepared…the breath of the Lord, like a stream of sulfur, kindles it” (Isaiah 30:27-28, 30, 33). The breath of the Lord kindles the fires of the wrath of God. This wrath is what we deserve for our countless offenses against an infinitely holy and just God. His justice has to be satisfied. He can’t simply overlook our sin.
Jesus knew exactly what grace would cost. He knew the agony He would suffer. Scripture gives us a glimpse of the inner turmoil of Christ in the hours leading up to His sacrifice. “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death” (Matthew 26:38). “And he said, ‘Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will’” (Mark 14:36). “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44).
People want options to get to heaven. They want to take their pick and find “what works” for them, for each of us. But they’re missing the point. There was no other way. If there was some other road we could take to obtain forgiveness and grace, Jesus wouldn’t have gone through what He did. He asked the Father that if there was any other way, if it was at all possible, to let the cup pass. Basically, “If there is any other option here, don’t let me go through this. But if this is the only way, I’ll do it.”
The focus shouldn’t be “Why would God only make one way? How could He be so narrow-minded and leave us with so few options?” It should be praise to the magnificent glory of His grace—God made a way! Jesus endured all of this for us! It was absolutely impossible for us to know anything but the holy, righteous wrath of God and separation from Him forever. There was no way for us to pay our debt of sin, to escape the justice due to us. It’s amazing that we have a way at all.
Someone came to rescue us. Someone took our punishment. The only One who could. He did it. He came to save us to the uttermost. And because Jesus did so, this is what we see at the end of the ages:
“And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, ‘Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?’ And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy…And one of the elders said to me, ‘Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.’ And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain…And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. And when he had taken the scroll…they sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.’ Then I looked, and I heard around the throne…the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!’” (Revelation 5:2-12)
Lord, You made a way for us. Impress the beauty and the power of this truth on the heart of each of us today. As we come into this Easter weekend, this time specifically set aside to dwell on and celebrate what You have done, overwhelm us again with Your glorious grace. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” May we stand in awe at how You love us, how You save us, and how You draw us to Yourself. Thank You for saving us to the uttermost, for choosing us and keeping us forever. Thank You for doing everything that needed to be done to ransom our souls. “It is finished.” In this we rejoice and find our hope, a steadfast anchor for our soul.