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By Felix Ngunjiri Gichuri

Reading: Luke 22:39-46

 Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane

We can imagine what Jesus was agonizing in the Garden of Gethsemane. He agonized over the impending death and the fact that He was to be made sin for us, yet He knew no sin. “And Jesus came out, and went, to His usual place of prayer, to the Mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed Him. And when He was at the place, He said to them, pray that you enter not into temptation. And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down, and prayed, saying, Father, if you be willing, remove this cup (of sins of the whole world) from me: nevertheless, not my will, but your will be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony He prayed more earnestly: and His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when He rose up from prayer, and was come to His disciples, He found them sleeping for sorrow, and said unto them, why do you sleep? Rise and pray, lest you enter into temptation” (Luke 22:39-46).

At the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus was Made Sin on Our Behalf

“For God has made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). He was to drink all the sins of the world so that we be made the righteousness of God that was in Him so that we who believe in Him will no longer be condemned as sinners. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Rom 8:1-4 [KJV])

What a sweet exchange?

He offered Himself to be pinned on a wooden cross so that all our sins might be piled on His body on the cross and the sins would kill Him (instead of killing all who believe in Him) because “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). The sin that we call ‘our sins’ would become ‘His sins’ and kill Him instead of killing us. The curse that was the fate of mankind from the days of Adam was to be exchanged and be His so that the righteousness that was due unto Him as a result of His obedience to the Father in heaven was made due unto us. There was no other way for us to be redeemed or delivered from the curse of the law and from the sin that belonged to all men unless somebody (sinless and righteous) volunteered to die our death so that we inherit His life and His righteousness.

Jesus Was Made a Curse on Our Behalf so that He Redeems Us from the Curse Pronounced by the Law

“Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” (Gal 3:13-14 [KJV]) We were doomed to die but He died our death. He was made a curse so that we be made the righteousness of God in Him.

The sweetest exchange was about to take place where all our sins were to be pinned on His body so that all our sins and the whole package of sin that include death, curses, diseases, shame, poverty and all manner of damnable evil that hell can devise were to be made His so that the righteousness of God might belong to whoever believes in Jesus Christ the Son of the Living God who died our death. The sins of idolatry, witchcraft, robbery and violence, adultery and fornication, hatred, anger, rebellion, strife, lies, sedition, heresies, envy, murders and all forms of wickedness and perversion were to be piled on His body on the cross. He agonized over the impending death because He knew that sin means death.

And the Sins Got Mixed Up

Jesus could not imagine taking all our sins on His body. That would have meant physical death and spiritual death and the subsequent separation from His Father in heaven. He had never been isolated or separated from God since eternity. Jesus pleaded with God to remove that cup that contained all our sins. When He looked down at that mixture of sins, He hated the cup with all of His heart. “And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, remove this cup from me:  nevertheless not my will, but your will” (Matthew 26:39). Jesus had to be made sin on our behalf on the cross although He knew no sin. All the sins of the world were nailed onto Him on the cross at Calvary. But because He had to ascend back to heaven where He belonged, there was no way he could go to heaven with all the sins of mankind on him.  He had to take them to the owner of sins. He had to dump all our sins in hell where they belonged, where they had been hatched. He had to take them to the devil, the father of lies. Jesus told doubters that “You are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it” (John 8:44).

All Sins can be Summarized as one Major Sin called HATRED

When all our sins got nailed on Jesus, they got mixed up into one major sin called HATRED. You could not tell one sin from the other. The bottom line in all sins committed here on earth is hatred. All sins can either be categorized as those that deal with hatred for God or those that have to do with hatred for man. The first four commandments of God found in the book of Exodus Chapter 20:1-11 command us to love God and Him alone should we adore, worship and serve (You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall make no idols. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain. Keep the Sabbath day holy)

The last six commandments found in the book of Exodus chapter 20:12-17 command us to love our neighbours and inflict no physical or emotional pain to them (Honor your father and your mother. You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery.  You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. You shall not covet)

The Greatest Commandment

That is Why Jesus clarified that the greatest commandment is LOVE which is the opposite of HATE. “Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. All the law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” (Matt 22:35-40 [KJV])

All types of sins are driven by deep hatred of God, man or self. You cannot steal from a person you love. You cannot kill a person you love. When some people hate God, they start worshipping other things: idols, graven images, ancestors, money, self, women and beer. Or they start worshipping power, property and personal gods. That imagination that all sins of hatred were to be heaped on Jesus was what Jesus hated most. God hates hatred because He is love. “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loves is born of God, and knows God. He that loves not knows not God; for God is love” (1 John 4:7-8). Having lost the fight against the imminent cup, Jesus braced Himself to drink the cup of all our sins and die on the cross at Calvary. He had earlier prepared His disciples of His impending death. “From that time forth began Jesus to show unto His disciples, how that He must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day” (Matthew 16:21).

Hell Left in Shambles

After Jesus died on the cross, He went down into hell. The day that Jesus descended into hell was a day Satan will never forget. The devil had earlier confirmed that Jesus had indeed died although gossip was rife in hell that He was likely to resurrect according to the scriptures. The scared demons were speaking in hushed tones of the well-oiled rumours that were being peddled all over hell that the main reason for Jesus going down to hell was to dump and bury all sins of the world on the demons. And that He would then rise from the dead after messing up hell. They started fearing that He would actually rise from the dead and interrupt their celebrations over His death. You can imagine what drama took place in hell after Jesus actually rose from the dead in hell. The devil and his demons had just left Jesus hanging on the cross, ‘dead’.  Suddenly, pandemonium broke loose in hell and Satan and all his demons were blinded by a strong shining light emitted by Jesus Christ. “… His face was as the sun shining in its full strength”  (Revelation 1:16). No light had ever lit hell before. The devil had never seen such light from the time he was chased from heaven. Satan and his evil angels (demons) tried running this way and that way, here and there and all fell prostrate before Jesus Christ, the one they had killed, and behold He had come down to hell to destroy them. Jesus stopped their cries with a chilling “Shut up” and without wasting even a single second snatched from Satan the keys of hell and death. “I am he that lives, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death” (Revelation 1:18). He woke the dead and preached to them about salvation. After Jesus Christ preached to the souls in hell, He could not leave them there if they got saved. He had to resurrect them and take them to heaven with him. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live” (John 5:25). “For Christ also has once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison” (1 Peter 3:18-19).  “For this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit” (1 Peter 4:6).

Christ Rose From Death

After defeating the devil in his backyard, Christ defeated death and rose from the dead. “And the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses” (Acts 3:15).  “Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dies no more; death has no more dominion over him” (Romans 6:9). “It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us” (Romans 8:34) After the resurrection of Christ, His soul was not left in hell “Therefore David being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses” (Acts 2:30-32 [KJV]).

Death and Hell Conquered

And behold Jesus Christ is seated at the right hand of God in heaven, having conquered the devil, hell and death for us. And John saw “an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season” (Revelation 20:1-3). “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night forever and ever”  (Revelation  20:10). “And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:13-14)

The Wages of Sin is Death

Paul tells the Romans that “the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23) meaning that sin means death and sin is inseparable from death but there is a way out of that terrible fate where one can choose to avoid death by avoiding sin and choosing life. We all have a choice to choose either life or death. “See, today I have set before you life and prosperity, death and adversity. For I am commanding you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commands, statutes, and ordinances, so that you may live and multiply, and the LORD your God may bless you in the land you are entering to possess. But if your heart turns away and you do not listen and you are led astray to bow down to other gods and worship them, I tell you today that you will certainly perish and will not live long in the land you are entering to possess across the Jordan. I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, love the LORD your God, obey Him, and remain faithful to Him. For He is your life, and He will prolong your life in the land the LORD swore to give to your fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” (Deut 30:15-20 [HCSB])

God Tells us to Choose Either Life or Death, But He Exhorts us to Choose Life

We can choose life by deciding to love the LORD as our God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commands, statutes, and ordinances, so that we may live and multiply, and the LORD our God has promised to bless us in the land we are entering to possess or in any venture or engagement or opportunity we are planning to possess. But if we choose not to love God with all our heart, soul and body and turn our hearts away and refuse to listen to His express command that we love Him and then we are led astray to bow down to other gods and worship them, He is vowing today that we will certainly perish and will not live long in the land we are entering to possess. There are two packages to choose from, the life package and the death package. God told the Israelites and is telling us today that the choice is ours; to choose life together with all its consequences of long life and multiplication of what we want, goodness, blessings, good health, prosperity, joy or to choose death with all its consequences of evil, premature death, curses, sickness, misfortunes, with heaven and earth called as witnesses to be against you today.

One can choose life by choosing Jesus Christ as his or her Lord and Saviour of their lives.  “Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6 [HCSB]) God has set before us the gift of life on condition that we are good to Him by loving Him and loving others. On the other hand He has set before us an assurance of death if we choose evil and sin in what He pronounced in Deuteronomy 30:15 “See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil;” That command that if you sin you will die of your sin was established by God during creation where we are told that “the LORD God commanded Adam, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”  (Gen 2:16-17 [KJV]) They were given the option of life and death and were given a warning that if they choose to eat the forbidden tree of knowledge of both good and evil, they shall surely die. They foolishly chose that option that pronounced death on them and lived with the consequences. They actually died spiritually there in the garden of Eden (for the Spirit of the Lord left them and they became carnal). “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” (Rom 8:6 [KJV]) “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do crucify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” (Rom 8:13 [KJV])

Adam and Eve were then kicked out of their Eden home and thrown down here on earth with a death sentence hanging around their necks ringing in their ears reminding them daily that they shall surely die. “For in the day that you eat the forbidden tree thereof you shall surely die.” They lived every minute of the years they lived expecting that physical death to visit them and thereafter they met their actual physical deaths several years later.

When we choose Jesus to be Lord and Saviour of our lives, we choose to love Him and the Father in heaven with all our hearts, and with all our souls, with our entire minds and with all strength. Christ then becomes our way, our truth and our life. “Jesus saith unto doubting Thomas and by extension is telling us that, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6 [KJV]) God wants us to accept Jesus Christ in our hearts and allow Him to make our bodies His temple to dwell in so that He manifests Himself in us and works miracles while He is in us so as to destroy all works of the devil through us. We are required to use our bodies to express our love to The One who loved us even when we were living in sin. The one who became sin for us and died our death so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but shall inherit everlasting life. Let us walk in love, walk in Christ, walk in His anointing so that we destroy all works of the devil and mess up the kingdom of the devil here on earth on our behalf as we preach Christ to all nations, explaining the Kingdom of God to all for them to believe and be saved from sin and death and be made the righteousness of God in Him.


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