Posted by: pmarkrobb | April 6, 2012

He chose separation

Friday in the “last” week of Jesus is a dark day.  It is a day that is infinitely difficult to put into words.  It almost begs to be experienced and not merely “told.”  But Friday is also a blessed day.  It is the gateway through which we must pass that leads us into the peaceful silence of Saturday and then onto resurrection!

Friday in the “last” week of Jesus begins with a new kind of Seder.  There is so much meaning and symbolism in what Jesus does with the traditional elements of Seder.  I encourage you to seek out commentary on it, and maybe we’ll even write about it next holy week.  Like the law that Jesus fulfilled and didn’t abolish with the institution of grace, he takes the bread and the 3rd cup of wine and transforms them into a new Seder.  The bread that was so central to the story of Israel’s exodus now becomes his body, and the 3rd cup of wine (the cup of redemption) becomes his redemption of all people in the form of his shed blood.  In just a few words, Jesus takes the central feast in the most significant Jewish festival and transforms it into the communion feast, where all who know Him are welcome. 

Although I could talk about Seder all day, it is in the garden where I want to land for today’s post.  After Seder and singing a hymn (I wonder what the hymn was), Jesus invites the disciples on a walk.  When they arrive at Gethsemane, he instructs the disciples to sit while he goes off to pray.  He invites Peter, James and John to continue with him, and then the Bible says, “…and he became deeply troubled and distressed.” (Mark 14:33b NLT)  He continues in the next couple of verses to share with Peter, James and John, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.  Stay here and keep watch.”  Jesus continues on further, and then under the weight of something no one has ever felt before he falls to the ground.

“Abba, Father,” he cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.“ (Mark 14:36 NLT)

I have heard those words so many times before … “take this cup from me.”  For so long, I attributed those words to the suffering he knew was coming on the cross road: being betrayed and denied, being rejected by his own people, the physical brutality at the hands of the Roman soldiers, the spikes driven through his hands and feet, the thorns as they dug into his flesh.  I have come to believe, however, that those words don’t refer to the brutal emotional and physical suffering that is to come; rather, they refer to the most significant three hours in all of human history.  The hours when, for the first and last time ever, there was a separation in the Trinity.  The cup of suffering that Jesus was praying would be taken from him, was separation from his Father.  This was the deepest pain imaginable to Jesus.  To give up the communion that sustained him during the entirety of his human experience, meant giving up everything.

As I readied myself for bed last night, those thoughts were on my mind.  The thoughts began to connect with a personal truth that I have shared with friends and family so many times in the past.  Namely, that I have learned and experienced so much about God in my role as a father.  In that quiet space, with the thoughts of separation running through my mind, I began to feel intimately connected with the heart of God.  I became captured by a vivid memory of a weekend where my wife and two sons were visiting her parent’s house for an extended weekend.  I miss my family terribly when we are separated, and that night their absence seemed especially painful.  On the way to bed, I walked into each of my boy’s rooms, grabbed a pillow from their bed and took them to my room.  I spent some time lying in bed praying and holding tightly to both pillows, while laying my head on my wife’s.  In the memory of that moment I drew close to God.  Jesus, a son with a heavenly Father, chose separation.  He wished for any other possible way, but he chose it.  For him it was a pain infinitely worse than the cruelest torture and death, but He was about his Father’s business … the business of redeeming the world.

Jesus chose the cross today.  He chose and endured separation today.  He died for us today.  Praise God!  And even more, praise God that as our next week begins in just two days, life and hope begin anew!  We must sit a while with Friday.  Resurrection is incomplete without it.  But God’s redemptive story doesn’t find its punctuation today.  He is Risen!  He is Risen, Indeed!


  1. Sit awhile with Friday. This unimaginable separation for my redemption – unseparation. What strikes me as I sit is that there is nothing I can do, but watch – observe. No parables or conversation to share in. No figs to be offered. No washing of feet. No anointing. No sharing of a meal. No walking along side. No giving or getting a hug. All I can do is observe. Man’s/God’s plan is unfolding before me and I am of no help. There is nothing I can do to interfere or aid. I am not needed. God is displaying His great love toward me.

    I hear God saying, “Sit awhile and observe.” “Be still and know……….!”
    “See the unseen things that I see.” “There is nothing you can do, is there?” “Open your eyes Jerry, take it all in.” “This is my Son……I am so pleased with Him.” “It is my will……I am pleased……to crush Him and cause Him to suffer.” “Observe, Jerry” “This is my SON……I am sooooo pleased with Him!”

    Father, I am speechless.

    Thank You. Thank You for allowing me to observe the most intimate event ever in the Father Son relationship. Might we all sit awhile this Friday and observe.

    Thanks for sharing Mark,


  2. “Take this cup from me” “Not my will but Your will” Two thoughts hinged together forever. one thought never comes alone, always together. The door that opens to heaven swings on that hinge. “Take this cup from me” Not my will but Your will”

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