In my previous letter, we learnt how since the foundation of the world, we were chosen to be in Christ. I ended my letter reminding us of the truth that while on earth, Jesus faced the greatest challenge anyone could ever face. He had to endure every aspect of the cruelty of the cross and become the ultimate sacrifice to free mankind from the curse and bondage of sin. This was the barrier preventing us from being inseparably connected to Him. And to do this, He not only had to take the sin of the world upon Himself, He had to become sin itself (Isaiah 52:14, 1 John 3:5).
Knowing full well, the full extent of what He had to face, as an innocent man, certainly took its toll on Jesus’s state of mind in the garden, moments before His arrest. Luke 22:44 says, “And being in an agony [of mind], He prayed [all the] more earnestly and intently, and His sweat became like great clots of blood dropping down upon the ground.”
However, something significant happened to Jesus in that moment of intense turmoil and distress, that caused Him to suddenly stand up strong and full of determined purpose, ready to fulfil what He knew He was destined to do.
Luke 22:43 tells us that while Jesus was in a desperate state of mind, “... there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening Him in spirit.” Rick Renner, in his book “Sparkling Gems From the Greek”, does a wonderful study on this particular verse of scripture. When Luke writes that the angel “strengthened” Him, he uses the Greek word enischuo. This is a compound of the words en and ischuos. The word en means in, and the word ischuos is the word for might or strength. Compounded together, the new word means to impart strength; to empower someone; to fill a person with heartiness; or to give someone a renewed vitality. In other words, a person may have been feeling exhausted and depleted, but he suddenly gets a blast of energy so robust that he is instantly recharged! Now he is ready to get up, get with it, and get going again!
That inner strength made such a drastic change in the countenance of Jesus. He got up, shook Himself off and immediately walked with full, determined purpose to his disciples. He woke them up and with a voice full of authority and passion, declared the time had come, and He was more than ready for it. I can just imagine the fire burning in His eyes as He marched out of that garden, set and ready to do what was burning inside Him to do.
John 18:2-6, tells us that as they were walking, they encountered a small army of soldiers, accompanied by Judas and some temple guards. Then Jesus, knowing exactly what was about to take place asked, “Who are you looking for?” When they answered, “ Jesus the Nazarene.” Jesus uttered three words, boldly and clearly, “I am He.” And when He spoke those words, the power of God that was inside of Him, being activated by that mighty inner strength, was carried on those three words and knocked everyone of those men, out cold, flat on their backs! Obviously, Jesus waited patiently for them to come around and gather their wits about them, before they could get on with business and arrest Him. Have you ever thought why Jesus did that? I believe He was demonstrating the statement He made in John 10:17-18, “For this [reason] the Father loves Me, because I lay down My [own] life—to take it back again. No one takes it away from Me. On the contrary, I lay it down voluntarily. [I put it from Myself.] I am authorised and have power to lay it down (to resign it) and I am authorised and have power to take it back again. These are the instructions (orders) which I have received [as My charge] from My Father.”
Jesus knew exactly Who He was to His Father, and the love that they shared is exactly what fuelled His purpose to fulfil what He was born to do - more than anything, He was determined to make a way for us to be inseparably connected to them, and experience the depth of their supernatural love.
Now, let’s back track just a little to the moment this drastic change of Jesus’ state of mind happened. Right there in the garden, when the angel came to strengthen Him. I’ve heard many different opinions regarding what the angel actually did to strengthen Jesus in the garden that day. Some say he brought Him food to strengthen and sustain Him. But that just doesn’t ring true to me. No amount of ‘comfort food’ would ever be enough to cause the drastic change we see happen in Jesus in these moments leading up to the cross. Besides, we know that Jesus has just finished having a meal with the disciples, and He knew that if He really was hungry, He had the power to change even the stones into bread if need be.
I have my own theory concerning what transpired between Jesus and the angel in that garden. I believe that the angel looked Jesus in the eyes and reminded Him of the very words we read in the previous letter from the book of Ephesians 1:4-5, and 2:4-7. They echo the very conversation Jesus had with His Father in John 17:20-26. Speaking of their desire for us to be inseparably connected to them. To be perfectly one in them, and to know and experience the full extent of God’s love - to be loved by the Father, just as He loves His Own Son.
When Jesus was reminded of the unfailing, never weakening, all consuming, and all powerful love He shared with His Father, and how that love would one day include you and me in its everlasting embrace, His purpose became more important to Him than anything else in the world. And being reminded of that purpose is what infused Him with mighty inner strength that activated the power of God to flow through Him that day.
When we are reminded of who we are in Christ, and the mighty bond of love that secures us there, our kingdom purpose becomes more important to us than any challenge we face. We become unstoppable in our purpose because we are empowered by the supernatural inner strength that activates God’s unbeatable, irrepressible power that flows from our spirits that are inseparably connected to God Himself.
My prayer is that from your time in God’s Word, you would discover who you are in Christ, and experience the fullness of His love for you. That will keep the mighty inner strength and power of God flowing strong and sure in you, empowering you to fulfil His perfect will for your life.