Strengthened to Suffer

Meditation on Luke 22:43 “And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him.”

Although the entreaties of Christ in the garden met with oppressive silence, it does not follow that the Father was indifferent to the Son’s anguish or that his prayer was unheeded. Christ’s sufferings were an essential part of his satisfaction of divine justice, and the Father was actively involved even when he deprived the Son of the sense of his presence. Finlayson puts it movingly when he says that ‘the finger of the Father was upon the pulse of the lonely Sufferer in Gethsemane, and when the heart-beats of the One in conflict seemed to weaken, Heaven concerned itself about Him, and an angel was commissioned to hasten to His physical aid’. There was an outstretched hand, his Father’s hand – even in the darkness – and Christ knew it….

For one fleeting moment immense joy must have leaped within Christ’s soul as the Father’s hand touched him. This was a message from home. Heaven was behind him. He was forsaken, but not disowned. His Father was there, somewhere in the darkness. His loud cries and tears had not been unnoticed.

Whatever comfort the angel brought the Saviour was transient. The angel’s mission was not to bring relieif to Christ, but to strengthen him for further and even greater anguish – anguish quite beyond human endurance. It was then that our Lord ‘being in an agony . . . prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling to the ground’ (Luke 22:44). The angel’s presence served to aggravate his suffering. It was in order that the suffering might not only be maintained, but also that it might be intensified that the angel was sent. The battle must go on. It was too soon to say ‘Finished’. The Lamb of God must have the strength of a lion in this struggle.

The Cross He Bore: Meditations on the Sufferings of the Redeemer by Frederick S. Leahy, p. 18-20 (2007)

How Deep by Stephen Altrogge seems to be an appropriate song to reflect on in light of this meditation.

VERSE 1
You were broken that I might be healed
You were cast off that I might draw near
You were thirsty that I might come drink
Cried out in anguish that I might sing

CHORUS
How deep is Your love
How high and how wide is Your mercy
How deep is Your grace
Our hearts overflow with praise
To You

VERSE 2
You knew darkness that I might know light
Wept great tears that mine might be dried
Stripped of glory that I might be clothed
Crushed by Your Father to call me Your own

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