I don’t know about you, but if I knew someone was planning to betray me and that others planned to murder me – and soon – I’d be inclined to get out of town by the fastest possible means. On the day that has since been designated Good Friday, Christ Jesus knew that betrayal and death were coming his way.
But he didn’t run out of town. Instead, he went to the garden of Gethsemane and prayed. In doing this, he was presenting a totally different model for human life and hopes. His model is described in this passage from Matthew’s account of Jesus’ prayer that night: “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (26:39).
Jesus had spent three years healing people with all kinds of diseases and verbally sparring with Jewish officials who didn’t especially appreciate his ministry. He had even raised people from death. Now he was facing the final examination of all he had stood for and all that he wanted humanity to perceive about God’s love and power. The crucifixion at first looked as if he had failed. Many of his disciples were terrified and went into hiding.
But hatred symbolized by the crucifixion didn’t have the final word.
Buried by grieving followers, Jesus was free of the tomb three days later. As Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Monitor and of an international church based on Jesus’ teachings, wrote: “His three days’ work in the sepulchre set the seal of eternity on time. He proved Life to be deathless and Love to be the master of hate” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 44).
This is a message that bears repeating in a world where sorrow, sickness, dishonesty, and hatred seem to have full sway in so many places. So often Good Friday is seen as a day commemorating sorrow only. But there is a profound reason for remembering its spiritual message of ultimate hope.
Through his willingness to yield his own will to the will of God, which is always good, Jesus shined a light on the divine power and authority he had already proved in his healing work. He was ready to stake his life on God’s ability to save. Despite the hate that was directed at him so much of the time, and despite any fear he may have felt as the hour of reckoning drew nearer, he was ready to prove that Love was the master of hate. And his success showed that trust in God’s goodness, in the inevitable triumph of divine law, was not in vain.
Many years ago, I spent a night in my own garden of Gethsemane. I was terribly ill and in great pain. For many years I had relied successfully on prayer for healing, and I was sitting on the floor in the dark, praying with all my heart for some reassurance that God was with me. The answer came in these words from a hymn: “Thy helper is omnipotence” (Paul Gerhardt, “Christian Science Hymnal,” No. 361). Through the pain and fear, I could feel the divine presence, and I realized that no other power could stand before that which is all powerful – namely divine Love.
Although my physical condition remained unchanged at that time, the strength and courage I gained had its roots in the proofs Jesus had provided of God’s healing power and of his own victory over death. While my situation was hardly comparable to what he had proved, it was because he had proved it that I was able to persevere in trust and in prayer to God.
I lived through that night. And my condition began to improve. It took several weeks for a full recovery, but that night of darkness was never repeated. I have been well and totally free of that illness since. But how well I remember the presence of Love’s omnipotence, holding me in the dark hours with confidence and strength.
The world around us is filled with tribulation, loss, fear, sickness, sin, death, and a host of other troubles. Yet this same promise is still here, still ready to help and heal, and guide each individual to a resurrection of strength and health. The divine helper named Omnipotence is present right now, no matter how hopeless a situation may seem. The Christ message of God’s healing love, which Jesus so fully proclaimed in his ministry, is blessing each one of us.
On that Good Friday so long ago, Jesus proved God’s love to be true. And his is a trustworthy proof. Open your heart to that omnipotent Helper, and He will save you.