April 7, 2023
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE READING:
“Therefore, put on the full armor of God. In so doing you will be able to stand your ground when the day of evil comes. After you have done everything you are able to in that day, you will be able to stand [before the throne of God with humble confidence.]” (Ephesians 6.13)
“Then Jesus went with the Eleven to a place called Gethsemane. When they arrived, He said to them, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’” (Matthew 26.36)
TODAY’S REFLECTION ON GOD’S WORD:
Perhaps there is no better modelling of Ephesians 6.10-19 which has been the scripture that has served as the basis for our Easter preparation reflections. In the Garden in Gethsemane, Jesus put on the full armor of God. He knew, as Paul must have gleaned for teaching, that without being fully and truly prepared, He would not be able to stand the “day of evil.” Apart from the “end time,” could there be any more an evil time than the one Jesus was in? By that I mean He was at war with the rulers, the authorities, the powers of a dark world and the spiritual forces of evil permeating the heavenly realms against the Kingdom of God. At the cross, all the sins of the world (the people who dwell on earth past, present and future) were put on Him. The scripture is clear “He who was without sin was made to be our sin for us so that we might become His righteousness.” (2 Corinthians 5.21) We must know and affirm, mighty ones of God in Jesus who is the Christ, that such armor is not a covering of the physical body but of the spiritual. At the cross, Jesus was literally stripped of clothing and flesh by His tormentors and executioners. He was left bare before God and all the world. It was intended to bring utter shame and humiliation on Jesus and fear to all who looked upon Him. Yet, He did not falter in completing the mission of mercy which was given to Him for our sake. He bore it to the end as He had determined the night before when Good Friday actually began. After the sun had gone down and the meal was finished where the disciples were taught the passion of the Old Covenant and the New Covenant which would be ratified in the blood of the Lamb of God, Jesus took them out to pray. His purpose for them as it was for Himself was to be strengthened so they might stand with Him in the day of evil. Of course, we know what happened to the disciples: they slept. But all accounts, Jesus roused them three times and urged them to pray that they might not fall into temptation. He knew they would be required to stand and, in the words of Paul to the Ephesian community of faith, be able to stand your ground. They did not pray as Jesus encouraged them and as He steadied Himself with prayer. He was ready and prepared. They were not. He stood. They fled. He was revealed. They were hidden. Even in that moment, one of the disciples fled the garden barely clothed having so resigned himself to sleeping that he forgot where he was.
Dare we be equally unprepared for when that day comes? Will we be able to stand firmly and boldly against the enemy, to rebuke him knowing it will cause him to flee and be the watchman for others? We do not know when that day will come. It comes, in part, on a daily basis; and more so as each day passes. It is inevitable but it does not have to be on the increase because we have decreased in our faithfulness to the cause of Christ. As Jesus was fully clothed in the whole armor of God, His Spirit and His Soul remained in His possession and ready to be surrendered to God for safe-keeping. He would not succumb to the temptation of the Enemy on the cross any more than He did in the wilderness following His baptism. And this time, the stakes were higher. Before, it was the beginning of His ministry being called to the test. Now, it was the completion of that ministry that was tested. Suffice it to say that Jesus stood up to the test and withstood the onslaught of the Enemy. And how do we know this? Because, as He said, “The Son of Man must be tried, convicted and crucified resulting in His being raised from the grave on the Third Day.” Jesus would not take our ministry laying down. Jesus stood. The stone was rolled away. He walked and talked and called to their senses all those who had walked and talked with Him. And because Jesus took His stand with them, having embraced them all with the consequence of sincere prayer- His resurrection, those who had not yet seen Him would believe on account of their testimony. It is our testimony as well which we keep far too dormant and sleeping in our prayer closets. We must “put on the whole armor of God and pray as mighty ones of God in Jesus who is the Christ”! This is our Good Friday when we recognize finally that God is not a God of the dead but of the living. He is not a God of the box, the tomb, the coffin, the grave. He is the Living God of all who is above all, in all and through all. His will not ours will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. He gives us daily bread and the strength to accomplish the ministry of forgiveness and the rebuttal of sins, debts and trespasses. He is the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory forever honored by the Son who calls us friends in our joint service to the people of the world. Let this be our Good Friday commitment to not mourn the dead but put death to rest by dying to self and living for Him for lives for us. Shalom!
A PRAYER FOR TODAY:
Father, Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. We are prepared and ready to meet and greet the opportunity presented daily to stand ready to rebuke the enemy and bring glory to God as did and does His Son. AMEN.