“He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, ‘O my father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.'” Matthew 26:39
Am I the only one who has placed his head on the pillow at night and sighed, “Lord, I just don’t think that I can go any farther.” According to Scripture I think not. Moses, I am convinced, prayed this prayer more than once -“Why…have you laid the burden of all these people on me….the burden is too heavy for me….if You treat me like this, please kill me here and now.” (Numbers 11:10-17). Elijah, after that great victory on Mt. Carmel is soon found under the broom tree and asks God to take his life saying, “It is enough! Now, LORD, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers” (I Kings 19:1-18). Jonah, when discovered that he was the cause of the storm said to the mariners, “Pick me up and throw me into the seas; then the sea will become calm for you. For I know that this great tempest is because of me” (Jonah 1:1-2:2). Jonah would rather die than go on for God.
God has promised to go with us if we will just be willing to go a little farther. This was evidenced in several different ways in the lives of Moses, Elijah and Jonah. If you carefully read their stories, God was with them when seemingly they were at wit’s end. He relieved them, refreshed them and restored them when they had no hope or desire to go on. This is evidenced even more so in the path our Lord took to Calvary. How pale and insignificant our little down times in life and service are compared to that of our Savior. Let’s follow the places along the path for Jesus and be encouraged that God will be with us if we will follow His will and just go a little farther.
First, we see that our Lord went a little farther to Gethsemane, the place of suffering (Matthew 26:36-39). When He approached the garden only three of the twelve disciples were with Him – Peter, James and John. Here He instructed them to remain and watch while He went a little farther to pray. He told them how heavy His soul was. They didn’t understand. They slept while He suffered unimaginable agony in the garden pouring His soul out to His Father. Remember this when you feel forsaken and all alone.
Next, we see our Lord going a little farther to Gabbatha, the place of scoffing (John 19:13-16). Here we note that only two of the disciples were near, Peter and John and Peter, for that fact, was not all that near for Scripture says that he followed at a distance (Mark 14:54; John 18:15-18). Gabbatha means pavement, that place of judgment, and it was here that our Lord was despised, rejected and judged worthy of crucifixion. Certainly in our down times we have not had to experience such rejection and humiliation as this.
Then we see our Lord trudging even a little farther to Golgotha, the place of shame (John 19:17-18). Here we see but one of the disciples kneeling at the foot of the Cross. Where were the others? Not even one bold enough to help our Jesus carry His cross. All alone, forsaken by those whom He said He would love to the end (John 13:1), and soon to bear the worse pain of all, being forsaken by God. No one clamoring to bear His burden, the soldiers found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name, and compelled him to bear His cross. Willingly or not, we do not know. Ordered to do so we are sure (Matthew 27:32). Here we have loneliness beyond comprehension.
“Humble us, Lord when we think we just can’t go a little farther.” Gethsemane – Gabbatha – Golgotha! I have often wondered where I might have been on that dreadful day. How far would I have gone with the Savior? Maybe a more relevant question might be, “How far am I willing to go with Him today?”
In His last hours our Lord asked His disciples to go with Him: “I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me. But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, so I do. Arise, let us go from here” (John 14:30-31). He warned them that the prince of this world would be His invisible escort all the way to Calvary. But He also told them that the wicked one had nothing in Him. He would be able to continue farther until He completed the Father’s will, until He finished His task. When Jesus said, “Arise, let us go from here,” he was requesting their presence and promising His!
Just as the ruler of this world followed Jesus until His work was finished, so it will be with us. Remember that when you feel that you just can’t go on. We can go farther, not in our strength but His. God does not call us to serve Him alone. The Son promises to go with us “from here.” From whatever place we may be, whatever vision we may have or whatever state of mind we are in, to stay where we are is to submit to Satan, to go farther is to be submissive to the Lord. Our faith is rooted in the fact that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever! When Christ is with us, we can go farther. Hard times are meant to conform us into His image. Daily glimpses of the marks of the nails upon His hands and feet will tell us that whatever sufferings, discouragements and seeming setbacks we may encounter will not be in vain.
I arise today through God’s strength to pilot me, God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me, God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me, God’s Word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me, God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me, God’s host to save me
From snares of devils, from temptations of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill, afar and near,
Alone and in multitude.
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise.
I arise today through a mighty strength, the invocation
Of the Trinity, through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness of the Creator of Creation.
–Saint Patrick (389-461), Celtic missionary to Ireland
Photo by: Adam Baker (Creative Commons)