“…take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt. (Mark 14:33-36)
As I mentioned in Take it Away Part 1, I found the trilogy the Lord of the Rings by J.R. Tolkien to have a great parallel to Christ in the Garden. Just as the character Frodo Baggins was given a burden to carry that no other could carry for him, Jesus could not ultimately give to another to carry out for Him. Not my will but thy will be done was the prayer of Jesus. Not only did Jesus ask three times for something to be taken away from Him, but so did His servant The Apostle Paul.
Paul writes in 2 Cor. 12, “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. 8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. 9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” God knew that Satan was going to buffet Paul and allowed it to occur anyway. This buffeting means to beat black and blue, to smite so as to cause bruises and livid spots. This is like a boxer that buffets his body, handles it roughly, discipline it by hardships. As metaphor it to give one intolerable annoyance to beat one out, or wear one out (The Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible).
We read here that Paul prayed and Christ responded by reminding Paul that the grace that Christ gave to Paul was to sustain him when the messenger of Satan beat on him. Many have a wrapped understanding of what grace truly is. Grace is God’s unmerited favor, which Paul had been given because Paul was called by God for such a time as this to accomplish God’s will amidst a time when preaching Christ was punishable by physical torture. Recall Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus, Paul too was on his way to be the thorn in the flesh to many Christians. Then Jesus converted His heart reminding Paul that it is hard to kick against the pricks. He was telling Paul, the more that you kick against Me the more you are like a stupid ox that kicks against its wagon in its stubbornness only to actually be kicking the huge nail that sticks out from the wagon. The more Paul kicked the more that he was hurting himself. Now the more Paul is experiencing the thorn in the flesh, the attack of Satan, the more Christ is supplying the grace that Paul needs to endure. Life is certainly not easy, dare I say most of the time. There is actually a purpose to our trials, but we focus on the beating that we feel, rather than look to the beating that Christ endured to supply grace to us in or time of need.
We forget that we see through a glass darkly (1 Cor. 13:12) Paul writes, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (2 Corinthians 4:17-18 NIV).”
When Paul prayed take it away, Christ answered take my grace which is sufficient to use on the very thing you want taken away. Christ uses our pains to show Himself strong in our lives. Think of Joseph in prison, Daniel in the lion’s den, and countless others. What will be your story as you experience your thorn in the flesh? Will you look to the grace of Christ, or focus on the beating that you feel?
Until the nets are filled…
Blessings, Pastor Phil <><