THE WEIGHT OF HEAVEN AND EARTH
William Andrew Dillard
Parson to Person
The human family began in the Garden of Eden. In that pristine environment the federal head of the race had the opportunity to partake of the Tree of Life. He would then be sealed in righteousness, and his offspring would be born in righteousness rather than in sin. But, Adam failed! Consequently, men are born with a sinful nature that forever eliminates any possibility of being in the presence of the Creator in heaven, and all that entails. But, this reality was fixed in the day of his creation: whatever happens to man will be of man’s own doing, and no force will negate his power of choice! But, the result of sin is death, and death has passed upon all men for that all have sinned. Think with me about this awful, locked-in scenario!
To redeem His creation, God in incomprehensible love and grace affixed His own eternal destiny with that of His creation by becoming one of us. Born of a virgin, the Holy Spirit His Father, He did not inherit the sinful nature, but came into the world as a man to succeed where Adam failed. But wait! Death is the result of sin. Jesus is the sinless Son of God. How then could He possibly die, knowing no sin? The answer lies in revisiting the Garden of Gethsemane on the evening of His arrest. Jesus prayed while disciples slept. He sweat as it were great drops of blood in anticipation of the awful shame in the marvelous deed that was His alone to accomplish.
Upon identifying Himself to the soldiers, they all fell involuntarily to the ground. Evil intent had come to the righteous, Creator God of heaven and earth. They could not take Him, they could not harm Him. He was sinless! It was only by the grace of God that they were allowed to arise and proceed with their evil deed. It was then and there that Jesus fulfilled the great initial process of “If it be possible, let this cup pass from me, nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done.” This means that Jesus submitted to the massive load of sin. Sin was not in Him, but sin was upon Him. This is the only possibility of His being beaten and crucified. Think! Here was God in human form doing what no other man on earth could do, defeating sin, and paying the price of every person who through faith would appropriate His sacrifice as their own. Thus does every member of the human race have hope. One of us has overcome sin, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. Because He overcame, we may overcome in Him. Now, the door is open to life, to heaven, to inheritance in Him. Men may rejoice in this with all their heart because of His unspeakable GIFT to us all. There can be no higher or more noble meaning to Christmas than this! “. . . and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Isa. 9:6
“And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat,” Genesis 3:6.
Temptations come in many forms and every one of us has a weakness or two. What are your weaknesses? Maybe you lack strength to resist the temptations of power, wealth, possessions, food or lust; whatever our weaknesses may be, it is important to remember that temptations do not come from God (James 1:13). Maybe you are thinking, Well, of course, God does not tempt me to sin! That is not too difficult to understand. The problem, however, lies in the fact that we are led astray by our desire to play the role of God in our own lives. When we sin, we decide to take control of our lives out of God’s hands because we think we know better than He knows.
Think about Eve’s temptation for a minute. What was it that led her and Adam astray in the garden? It was the idea that, somehow, God was cheating them by forbidding them to eat from one tree in the garden. There were thousands of trees from which they could eat, but only one that was forbidden, and that was the one they wanted. They were tempted by their own pride, desiring to be in control of their own destinies.
Every temptation we face begins in the same way. We think we know better than God, and, instead of humbly trusting Him, we venture down the path governed by pride, giving in to our own desires. What do we find at the end of that path? We find disappointment, discouragement and despair. Why? It is because we make terrible gods.
Luke 24:26, 44-47
“Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?” Luke 24:26.
In the garden, man sinned but it was no surprise to God. He, Jesus and the Holy Spirit already had a plan.
From Genesis through Malachi, the need of a Savior was indicated and foretold. The Law required that every detail be fulfilled and yet, it remained unfulfilled by man—that is, until the perfect sacrifice came (Luke 24:44; Acts 4:12; Heb. 4:15).
Indeed, God cannot lie, therefore He must fulfill His required justice for sin, honor His Law, secure due regard for His kingdom and make a way of pardon for sinners as He promised. Jesus Christ filled all of these requirements.
We can be thankful that Jesus was willing to leave His heavenly abode and be the sacrifice for sinners. And thankful too, that God in His love allowed His Son to bear the burden of sin on the cross, to bear torture, mocking, embarrassment, shame and agony for us. The necessity of Christ’s death was so that “whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:15), and that we might have life abundant while we live for Him.
Friend, the only way that you can benefit from His death, burial and resurrection is to accept the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.
And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem (Luke 24:47).
“Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared,” Hebrews 5:7.
Prayer That Perfects
Intense, sweaty, stomach churning, heart breaking, face to the ground praying occurred in the garden that cool evening by the Son of Man. Luke describes the prayer of Jesus as agony. “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44). Jesus, God the Son, was not afraid of dying, nor was He afraid of the suffering He would soon face, and, yet, in His human flesh He felt the overwhelming sense of the burden of sin He must bear for all. His heart ached knowing that the Father must turn His face away while He bore the sins of humanity.
While Jesus poured His heart out to God the Father, His disciples slept. But the loving Father touched by the prayer of His Son sent an angel to minister to Him. Even though, Jesus felt every ounce of sin placed on Him because He was sinless. He still loves us so much that He was willing to bear sin for us. His heart was broken for us. “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Cor. 5:21).
The sufferings of Jesus were necessary. Through them He related to the suffering of mankind to the fullest human extent.
A. W. Tozer said – “Each generation of Christians must look to its beliefs. While truth itself is unchanging, the minds of men are porous vessels out of which truth can leak and into which error may seep to dilute the truth they contain. The human heart is heretical by nature and runs to error as naturally as a garden to weeds. All a man, a church or a denomination needs to guarantee deterioration of doctrine is to take everything for granted and do nothing. The unattended garden will soon be overrun with weeds; the heart that fails to cultivate truth and root out error will shortly be a theological wilderness; the church or denomination that grows careless on the highway of truth will before long find itself astray, bogged down in some mud flat from which there is no escape.