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Dear Christian friends,
Our daughter Kristina has become extremely interested in our family’s genealogy. She has uncovered some interesting items. Among the items that I find interesting is that many names are duplicated from generation to generation. Apparently there were a lot of children who were named after someone from the generation before which at times makes it complicated to know which generation is referred to. For instance, I had an uncle whose name wasRoyand that name is used again and again from generation to generation. I noticed that this is also true in my generation. I have a brother who was named Edward Charles and a brother Charles Edward. Edward was my maternal grandfather; Charles was my paternal grandfather.
Where did Larry come from? I guess by their fourth son, they ran out of ideas. They just named me Larry out of the blue. I guess they just liked the name. They didn’t even call me Lawrence. I have always wished they called me Lawrence. After all, Larry of Arabia doesn’t sound right. My first church was in Lawrenceville, not Larryville.
This Lenten season we are going to delving into the names for our Savior – Wondrous Names of Love. As we begin take note of the fact that Jesus didn’t have names that doting parents gave him because they sounded good. These are names that the Heavenly Father gave to Jesus. Tonight we begin with the name of Jesus – “Jesus, Name of Wondrous Love.” 1) Jesus the Savior who loves the fallen world; 2) Jesus, the Savior who came to do his Father’s will.
The scene is Gethsemane. Gethsemane was an olive grove. Gethsemane was a place that Jesus liked to frequent. It was peaceful and seemed like a park. It was a place where he loved to pray. “Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him.” He prayed that night too. What a prayer!
He took three disciples with him further into the garden – Peter, James and John. “He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” Other accounts tell us he prayed three times. What was ahead was really on his mind. That’s often the way it is! It is true for me that when something is so serious in my life or if something is serious in some other person’s life, there is a very special way of dealing with it; keep bringing it to Jesus. Once is not enough!
As a father if I were to ask my child what they wanted for Christmas, I think if they wanted something the first time I asked and then changed their request a second time, I would wonder if they really wanted it. I wondered if they would open the gift and played with the gift or use the gift only a time or two and then toss it aside.
Look how intense the prayer was. According to other accounts after he had prayed three times, “An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” When Judy gave birth to our first child, I remember when she was in the birth process and started to push, the force with which she started to push burst all kinds of capillaries in her face. She looked as if she were born with freckles. Has anyone been even close to this to that in prayer? When you were done praying, have you ever needed a shower? Jesus was. Jesus knows.
Now look at Jesus – begging and pleading. “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” What was the problem here? He had stilled storms; he had faced enemies in the temple and cast them out. He had cast out demons and even raised the dead. What was in that cup that he had to drink?
You know! For every sin that every person has ever committed! The sin of Adam and Eve; the sin of Cain and Abel; the sin of Jacob and Esau and David and Solomon! The sins of Judas who betrayed him! The sins of Peter who denied him! The sin of Jew and Gentile and of every man or woman who ever lived! In fact, Jesus died as the greatest sinner who ever lived because “the Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
A mother or a dad will walk the floor all night holding their child because the child is sick with a fever and is need of comfort. Why will a parent go sleepless and spend days dog tired for their child or children? Two parents will work full days year after year so their children can go to college someday. They can graduate with either no debts or loans that are affordable instead of having loans that will take years and years to pay off. Why do the parents do that? They love their children!
Why did Jesus drink the cup of suffering? Why did he face the wrath of his Father in heaven and experience total separation from him? Why did Jesus, the eternal and majestic Son of God become poor so that we could become rich? I hope that these are rhetorical questions for everyone rather than questions that need a lot of research for an answer that might be the right answer. The reason - “God so loved he world that he gave his one and only Son…” His unexplainable, incredible and overflowing love! Jesus the Savior loves the fallen world.
Jesus, the Savior, also came to do his Father’s will. So let’s go back into the Garden and listen to the prayer of Jesus again. “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”
My nephew who was once a pastor spoke about the old Lutheran health plan that he had seen from many of his parishioners in the churches he served. It was pretty simple he said. Lutherans just go once. Appointments with the dentist and the doctor aren’t my favorite ways to spend time either. Even if there isn’t anything wrong, which you pray for, it still costs you a lot of money. If there is something wrong, there are repeat visits and medications. There is a lot to pay for. If I had a choice about it, I would simply say, “I pass!”
Very seriously three times Jesus went back to prayer and asked the Heavenly Father if he could do the same. May I pass? When the answer was clear that he was saying no, Jesus didn’t go away mumbling and grumbling because the Heavenly Father didn’t know what he was expecting Jesus to do. Instead it was, “Yet not my will but yours be done.” Jesus love for the Father and, frankly, his love for us meant surrender to the Father in heaven. He came to do his Father’s will.
Isn’t it true that many times the content of our prayers is that we get to take the easy way out? We want things sweet and rosy. It is like the little third grade boy who asked God after the geography test, “Dear Lord, please makeAtlantathe capital ofRhode Island.” We make the mess and then get mad when the situation is rough and tough to handle. When our health disappears or our family gives us disappoints, when our plans don’t work out and our checkbook doesn’t balance, when friends are not faithful and their gossip deeply wounds, what we need to bear seems impossible. We complain and think, “Not your will be done but mine!”
I am always amazed at the skill of a good carpenter. A power sander is one of his best friends. A sander brings out the beauty in wood. If the wood could talk as the sander works away, the wood would cry out “Ouch” every time one of those knot holes is hit or imperfections were sanded away. Sometimes God can sand away at our lives and it hurts, it hurts very badly! We are apt to complain and even question the wisdom of our God.
It’s time to go to the Garden. Hear the prayer Jesus prayed. Hear especially the words, “Not my will but yours be done.” Watch the bloody sweat fall. Look how far he would go to show you his love. He came to do his Father’s will. He came to be your deliverer. That’s his name.