God created man in His ‘image and likeness’ and placed him in a pile of dust by breathing life into that to make him a living and a speaking being. Every individual is a spirit with a soul and he lives in his personal house, his body that is given by God. Man’s soul is about his feelings, thoughts and emotions and it is through the soul that one expresses his joy and grief. God is love and earthly man can never fathom the extent of that love, nor about His other feelings about His created beings.
Does God experience joy, pain and grief? The LORD God saw ‘that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart’ (Genesis 6:5-6). After completing His work of creation, ‘God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good’ (Genesis 1:31). This inspection of creation would have given Him great joy. Whatever emotions and feelings that mankind is endowed with, God has the same but at a much higher and refined level.
God is just and righteous but His love overrides His justice and every time that man commits an evil act, He overlooks that and continues to repair the damage. This same principle is also taught by the Son of God to the disciples about forgiveness. Answering Apostle Peter’s query, Lord Jesus taught to forgive the offender ‘seven times seventy’ and that is in one day for one type of offense (Matthew 18:21-22). Had God been only just, the whole of mankind could not have survived even for a day. The All-knowing God was well aware of the disobedience of Adam and Eve, yet He came down at the appointed time, ‘cool of the day’ to meet them (Genesis 3:8; 13). The question to Eve, ‘What is this you have done’ is an expression of great pain of a loving God for having been rejected as being the only source of ‘knowledge and wisdom’, as also the pain of the consequences of this on the human race.
Apostle Paul revealed to the Romans, who worshipped many gods, the real source of all creation, Lord God, ‘For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things’ (Romans 11:36). All created beings are not only for Him and since ‘He (Lord Jesus) is before all things, and in Him all things consist’. At the time of creation the whole of earth was ‘without form, and void; and darkness was’ (Genesis 1 & 2:7). God removed darkness by calling out for the light of the glory of His Son to fill the earth and the devil induced darkness was separated from His light. Since all things were created in this light, the Son of God is the only source of sustenance for all things. God called out to the earth to bring forth vegetation and ‘the sea creatures and everything that moves’ was brought forth from the waters. Thereafter at God’s command the earth brought forth ‘living creatures according to its kind; cattle and creeping thing and beast’. Whatever came out of the earth was to be maintained by earth and then to merge with the earth at the end of its term of life, likewise the water for fish and other things in the seas. When God decided to make man, He called out to Himself, the Holy Trinity, ‘Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness’ (Genesis 1:26). Man was created when God ‘breathed into his nostrils the breath of life’ (Genesis 2:7) and God is the source of his sustenance.
The Son of God, is fully God and told the Samaritan woman on the well, ‘God is Spirit’ (John 4:24). When God breathed into man, a spirit was given and a soul also to have a distinct individual personality, intellect and emotions. With his spirit man communicates with the spiritual realm; with his body he is connected to the earthly or the physical world. The soul of man is the connecting link between the two and is supposed to collaborate with the spirit to control the body. Soul is about your mind, character, thoughts and feelings and since it comes from God, He also must be having the same. Lord Jesus claimed, ‘My Father loves Me’ (John 10:17) and then He further said, ‘If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him’ (John 14:23). Love is an emotion and God the Father expresses that towards His Son and through Him to His children. When he has given the capacity to have feelings and emotions to a man, how could He give something that He does not have or does not desire? All expressions that a human being is capable of, God has and that too in the purest form.
Why did the Lamb of God pray for shifting of the cup in Gethsemane Park? God tested Abraham and commanded him to ‘Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love’ and offer him on Moriah as a ‘burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you’ (Genesis 22:1- 2& 6). Abraham left the servants, ‘took the wood of the burnt offering and placed it on Isaac’ and moved towards the mountain. The Hebrew word ‘naar’ is used for the servants and the same word is used for Isaac by Abraham, thus placing his age of being employable, that is above 20 years. The Jewish sages place his age at 37, which should actually be around 30. Since he asked his father about the sacrificial animal, he was aware of the custom of sacrifices also and was not a child.
Then why did Isaac not resist being tied up and placed on the altar of wood? Isaac was well aware of the great love that his father had for him but also about his love for God and could see and feel both the pain and faith of Abraham during this. But in this it was the father’s heart that suffered more, for Isaac fully trusted his father to do the right thing. The Son of God was well aware of what awaited Him on earth and ‘He emptied Himself’ of His Godly authority to become man (Philippians 2:7). But He also knew well the love that God has for His created beings and for His only begotten Son.
The people of Israel sought Prophet Samuel asking him, ‘Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations’ (1 Samuel 8:5-8). This displeased the prophet but the LORD said to him, ‘Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them’. Moses was commanded by God to tell Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, ‘Israel is My son, My firstborn’ and to let them go that the son may serve God their Father (Exodus 4:22-23). The demand of the Israelites to have a king grieved God for they desired an earthly ruler and gave up their exclusive status as being chosen and set apart for and by God. The Israelites were repeatedly told by God ‘Return to Me’. God expressed His feelings of hurt to the Israelites, ‘Is it not because I have held My peace from old that you do not fear Me?’ (Isaiah 57:11). But this also reveals the love of God for His people and that He desires to fellowship with them.
God’s question to Cain about the reason for his anger was to warn him about the lurking danger of ‘sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it’ (Genesis 4:6-7& 15). Even after the curse that fell on Cain because of his act of murdering his brother, Abel, God still saved him by pronouncing sevenfold vengeance on anyone who would kill him.
The Savior Lord also loves mankind as much as our Father in heaven and He loves the Father also. The Creator and Protector God became a little child, dependent on His parents for care and protection. The magi were the astrologers and magicians, the learned men, and in the presence of the Child Jesus, they realized the presence of power of God (Matthew 2:12). They ‘fell down and worshipped Him’ and opened their treasures and presented gifts to the Most High Priest and King of kings, gold for His Royalty, frankincense for Divinity and myrrh (embalming oil) as anointing for sacrificial death. God the Father permitted this to happen as acknowledgment of His Son’s Divine status.
During the Passover feast the Jews sing the Greek Hallel psalms 113 to 118 and Lord Jesus did sing these psalms with the disciples before ‘they went out to the Mount of Olives’ (Matthew 26:30). Our Lord joined the disciples to sing, ‘I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the LORD’ and then as if praying to the same LORD, ‘Bind the sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar’ (Psalm 118:17; 27). The Father answered by tying His hands and feet to the altar of His cross with nails. But then why did He seek shifting of the cup in His prayer in the Gethsemane Park? Before going further ahead from the disciples to pray, Lord Jesus told them, ‘My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death’ and He was deeply distressed (Matthew 26:38 & 41). The Greek word ‘thanatos’ used here for death means ‘to die spiritually or physically, separation from salvation’, implying separation from God. He returned and found them sleeping and told them further, ‘The spirit indeed is willing but the flesh is weak’.
On earth Lord Jesus was fully God but devoid of His Divine powers, except the power of the Holy Spirit working in Him and fully human, subject to all pressures of the earthly fallen nature of mankind, though He Himself was sinless. The God part of His needed no strengthening but it was the body that required continuous care as any other human being. His prayer in Gethsemane Park has three major parts, first, it is addressed to the Father from the Son; second, it is about the love of both towards each other and finally it is about total obedience to the decision of the Father by the Son. It is presumed by all that Lord Jesus expressed His human side in this prayer about the coming pain and humiliation. However, all prayers are more about spiritual aspects which translate into and impact the physical and material realm.
From Gethsemane Park onwards till the last prayer on the cross, the first and the last are addressed to the Father and one in the middle to My God. The Son is well aware of the agony the Father is undergoing and will suffer and prays for some alternative. He is willing though His body is reluctant but His prayer is to and for the Father to avoid His Father’s pain and suffering. The second is a cry to God about being forsaken despite willingly undergoing the sufferings to fulfill His requirements of justice for sin. The Son finally ‘commits His spirit’ into the loving Father’s hands, Who tears the dividing veil from top to bottom to receive the spirit of His Son, the Perfect Man.
During His stay as man, the Son of God maintained the absolutely correct way of life where the spirit led the soul and through that the body. This was reversed in mankind after the fall but Lord Jesus’ body was fully subject to His soul and spirit and ‘In Him was life’ (John 1:4). He could declare this confidently, ‘I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down Myself’ (John 10:17-18). Though He was fully Man, Lord Jesus being fully God also, always had the power over life and death. His nature is to care for others, including the Father in heaven and that is the probable reason for the prayer in Gethsemane Park.
How should this affect a believer? For this we must try and visualize the scene in heaven at that time. Only the Father and the Son were fully aware of the forthcoming events as prophesied ‘His visage was marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men’ (Isaiah 52:14). Face swollen, wound marks turning flesh blue and black, spit in His beard and face unrecognizable that is what our Redeemer’s visage was before and on the cross. More than twelve legions of angels were ready to answer His call (Matthew 26:53) and one angel killed 1, 85,000 warriors in one night and the entire population of the earth could be finished at His call. All angels in heaven must have been shocked to see all that and on earth the demonic spirits were also waiting to see the end result. In all this the Son is willingly obedient and ‘It pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief’ (Isaiah 53:10). All overcame their own will to stand ready in obedience to follow the next command from the Father or the Son to destroy everything on earth, which never came for He was not sent to condemn the world but redeem them from sin (John 3:17).
The prophecy about the effects of restoration of the relationship of mankind with God through the sacrifice of Lord Jesus is, ‘In that it shall be said to Jerusalem, ‘Do not fear; Zion, let not your hands be weak. The LORD your God is in your midst, the Mighty One will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing’ (Zephaniah 3:16-17). This is the result that Lord Jesus expected out of His sacrifice to see God the Father rejoicing over innumerable sons and daughters of faith added to the heavenly family. Imagine God singing with joy over us with a loud voice but that is what He does. Lord Jesus has said the same thing about there being ‘more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents’ (Luke 15:7).
Any believer or any human being will definitely like to bring and fill God’s heart with joy, whatever it may take and the Son of God laid down His life for this. The least anyone can do is to believe in Him and receive salvation by believing in Him and turning from the sinful ways and causing celebration in heaven. This is the reason that we have been promised by God that He will never leave nor forsake any of the believers. That is also the importance of reaching out to others with the message of the Gospel. Join His saints and step out to minister to others and when God rejoices, He will surely reach out to fill us also with His joy.
‘Fear of the LORD’ is the most repeated commandment and this is about reverence. One must be mindful that any thought, word or deed of mine should not cause pain to such a loving God who rejoices over me. What we say to God the same echoes back to us and any expression of our love for Him is returned. Pastor John Piper, the famous teacher and preacher rightly says, ‘God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him’. In that state of joy we see Him working in our heart to fill us with His peace and joy. Our work is to be thankful in everything and be deliberately ever ready to hear ‘the still small voice of God’ and obey His commands both written and oral without giving vent to our own opinions and desires.
God the Father has blessed all believers by opening the door of salvation and entry into His Divine presence through the sufferings of His own Son. We must be ready to reach out to others with this wonderful message of His love to bring them into this blessed state by just believing in the truth of this promise. When we move out in faith, the LORD God confirms His word through various signs and wonders in and through our lives. it is not by any of my works but by His mercy and grace we receive this and we have to just move forward towards Him.