Luke 22:45-51

Luke 22:45-51On an ordinary day, in ordinary circumstances, a man or woman of reasonable self-control might choose to say or to do many things that do not reveal the deeper instincts. And so sometimes we smile a greeting when the last thing we feel like doing at the moment is to greet this person who is approaching us …. or we hold our temper when our child has fallen into one more tantrum and, instead of screaming, calmly deal with it.

Yet put a little strain upon us, make us hungry or tired, or anxious about something, make the circumstances difficult or surprising, and we might behave very differently. Then our true feelings and desires might very well erupt in instinctual behavior we have not planned and, at that moment, cannot control: a word, a touch, an action that unmasks us. Great anger, grief, fear, or other extraordinary circumstances lay bare the deeper motives of the heart.
This was a night of extraordinary events for Jesus. He had spent the evening with His friends, knowing the meal they shared would be His last with them, trying to prepare them for what lay so close ahead. Afterward they had gone to the Garden, singing together along the way. He had talked compassionately and urgently of many things, and He had prayed for them, even as the weight of what was coming grew heavier upon Him.
As the hour grew late, His anguish deepened, and He went apart to pray. Three terrible prayers, full of fear and faith; exhausting, struggling prayers. Then at last He returned to the grove where His friends lay sleeping, even as the sound of a gathering crowd, torches aloft, came at them through the darkness.
How was He then? Strengthened by His prayers …. ready …. but with a soul still full of unspeakable sorrow, under a tremendous strain. His sensitive spirit must have felt the cold evil that lay in the air that night. He knew it was coming for Him.
Suddenly everyone was awake and the crowd was upon them. Everywhere there was confusion, panic, horror, anger, fear. There was a scuffle, and a cry, and blood — then His voice spoke its stern calm to them: “It is enough.” Jesus reached out, touching the severed ear of one of those who had come out to take Him by force, and healed the man. In another moment our Lord’s arms were pinned, they were upon Him, and it was begun — the terrible passion, the prelude to death.
Here, in a small unplanned moment of grace within a tide of evil, lies the whole of our lesson today. Christ stood among His enemies, surrounded, the power of evil strong in the air, and in the very midst of their attack on Him He healed an enemy’s wound. It was a simple act, simply done, without so much as a word. Most seem not even to have noticed it; only one Gospel records it.
In those extraordinary circumstances, under that terrific strain, Jesus had healed by a deep instinct that was as natural to Him as breathing. And so the heart of our Lord was laid bare as perhaps it never had been before. Here was a sign that His was a heart that bore no one any malice, that desired nothing but that every man and woman be well and whole. Not even doing our worst against Him could stop Him from exercising that healing intention in His enemy’s life.
Edwin Markham wrote a short poem I came across many years ago. It goes like this:
He drew a circle that shut me out —
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win;
We drew a circle that took him in.
That is what our Lord did that night, and every day of His life. In spite of all we may do to shut Him out of our lives, we cannot step outside the wide circle of Christ’s healing love.
There are two things I would commend to your meditations this week, two thoughts to hold to your heart and wonder about and take into your own life deeply. The first is this: If Jesus’ life (so well tested under this extreme of suffering) expressed such a natural, deep, thoroughgoing will for human health and well-being, then surely we can trust that God is no less committed to our health. Surely God’s desire is that we be well.
Second, there is nothing you have done or could do that could make God fail to desire your healing. Nothing could make God want you to remain unwell. Whether you love God or not, whether you treat God well or badly, whether you sin or not, God’s will is to heal you.

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