Two kinds of endurance: 20 March 2015

Paul Troger belonged settled in Vienna in 1728 and became one of the best representatives of the Viennese Rococo painting style. His “Christ Comforted by an Angel” is a good example of his work.

Matt 26 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.’ 39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.’

2 Cor 3 We put no stumbling-block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. 4 Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; 5 in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; 6 in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; 7 in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; 8 through glory and dishonour, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; 9 known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; 10 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

Jesus had a cup to drink. God had required it. But merely lifting the cup to his lips was going to require every last ounce of two different kinds of endurance.

The first all-consuming endurance was physical. His body would be stretched between heaven and earth. He would hang by his hands in suffocating agony. Worse, he would not even be placed on the gallows until he had been physically abused and beaten. His head would be savagely wounded with a cruel crown of thorns. Jesus knew his blood would flow; his agony would be all but unbearable.

Yet the endurance perhaps even harder to bear was spiritual. He must live through the spiritual alienation he would feel when all his friends had rejected him, forcing him to die alone. He must then bear the sin of the world. He must experience that one awful moment when his Father turned his face away from the humanity-smudged holiness of his own Son. He must die in the realisation that he would be dead forever if his Father did not raise him to life.

Lord, give me whatever cup will honour you. Mingle it with bitterness and gall, if you must. But promise me that in my drinking of it, you will have the glory. Then gladly I will drink it all.