Throughout His life on earth we see a progressive increase in the intensity of tests brought into the life of Christ. As He entered His ministry He was met with the severe test in the wilderness. Hunger, thirst and loneliness all pressed upon Him. Satan used every tactic in his hellish arsenal to turn Christ from His mission. As Jesus began to teach He was met with the stern rebuke of the spiritual leaders who questioned His right to teach or in any way challenge their authority. He endured, obeyed, trusted! His faith held.
Day by day as He ministered, He was challenged, questioned, derided, hunted, gossiped about, conspired against, spied on, etc. The faith of Jesus was being developed. His commitment to His mission and His love for and confidence in His Father were undaunted; He stood as a mighty cedar in the storm. But that would soon change. Gethsemane was coming.
As Jesus entered the garden that passover evening, He staggered as He expressed His feelings, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death…” Matthew 26:38. He pleads with His Father for the cup to pass (ibid, verse 39). His faith–His moral conviction, His confidence, His surrender, His love–were all tested to the core. His concession, “nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt.” reveals the depth of his surrender, His faith, obedience, and His patient endurance.
The mob comes and He could escape but the faith of Jesus stands. The trial comes, replete with false witnesses, outright lies, physical abuse, mockery, bribery, the confession of Judas and the abandonment of His “loyal” followers. Motivated by love for His Father and for His children, His faith holds fast. Satan is pressing every “panic button” in the human nature of Christ, but Jesus chooses to keep His amygdala, which is screaming “self preservation”, under complete control of His frontal lobe, which is under the control if the Holy Spirit.
Then comes the cross, the nails and the crown of thorns. Something called neural thorns can develop along the neurons in the brain whenever we harbor an unforgiving spirit. These thorns wound surrounding tissues, but the choice to forgive prunes those thorns away. The faith of Jesus speaks: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do…” Luke 23:34. No thorns penetrate to the mind of Christ!
As Jesus hangs on the cross at Calvary the Father hides His face, and the faith of Jesus is tested to the utmost. He is alone in His suffering, and the scream, “My God, My GOD, Why hast Thou forsaken ME?”, bursts from the breaking heart of our Redeemer. He has no assurance of ever living or seeing His Father again. Except….by faith. And that faith held. Jesus died in faith, willing rather to be blotted out of existence than disobey His Father or to leave humanity with no hope.
“Here…are they that keep…the faith of Jesus.” Revelation 14:12. Tomorrow we will look more at what this means for you and for me.