The Best Possible Gift You Can Give During the Pandemic

Desperate Prayer

The Two Gardens

In our last post on the book of John we left Jesus standing in the garden of Gethsemane, saying to Peter, “. . . shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”

Now we’re about to leave the garden, but before we do, I’d like to compare the garden of Gethsemane to the garden of Eden.

In the garden of Eden we see the first Adam.
In the garden of Gethsemane we see the last Adam.

In the garden of Eden we see Adam go into hiding.
In the garden of Gethsemane we see Jesus come into the open.

In the garden of Eden we see Adam and Eve receive the fruit from Satan.
In the garden of Gethsemane we see Jesus receive the cup from God.

In the garden of Eden we see Adam make a decision to define right and wrong for himself, and it was a decision that would doom the human race to sin.
In the garden of Gethsemane we see Jesus make a decision to let God determine his path, a decision that would save the human race from sin.

Finally, the garden of Eden was a paradise.
But the garden of Gethsemane was an olive press. That is, the meaning of the name Gethsemane is olive press.

You and Jesus Under Pressure

That name is appropriate because Gethsemane is where we see Jesus under tremendous pressure. In the other three Gospel accounts of the events in the Garden of Gethsemane, we see Jesus agonizing. We see him sweating great drops of blood, and we see him go to our Father in prayer asking Him to, if it’s possible, take the cup away. Jesus is in deep anguish.

Some of us are feeling pressure and anguish right now because we lost our job. And we don’t know how long we’ll be out of work. Our future is unpredictable and unknowable. And we don’t know where the money’s going to come from to buy groceries and pay the bills.

For some of us we’re feeling pressure and anguish because of the COVID-19 disease itself. We’re immunocompromised or in a high risk demographic and we fear catching it. Or someone close to us has underlying health conditions that put them at risk. For some of us we’re already sick.

Whatever pressure we might be feeling right now, we know, that Jesus knows what that feels like. Because Jesus felt the pressure of bearing the sins of the whole world, and torture, and separation from God, and death on the cross.

You and Jesus Preparing for Pressure

John’s gospel is interesting because John doesn’t record Jesus’ agony in the garden. And at first glance someone might think that John’s gospel doesn’t corroborate the Gospel of Matthew, Mark, or Luke. But what we see is that John skips over the part where Jesus agonizes and goes right to Jesus’ statement: Shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?

This raises questions: How did Jesus embrace the cup God gave him? How did Jesus face the brutal path presented before him? How did Jesus walk out into the open, toward his betrayer and toward the soldiers who came to arrest him, and say, “Who do you seek?”

Where did that peace and poise come from under such enormous pressure?

The answer is found in those other Gospels.

Jesus shows us how.

Jesus faced the pressure with peace and poise because he did the hard work in prayer beforehand. His anguish was expressed to God in prayer, so that his grace and love, his peace and poise, could be felt by everyone around him from that point on.

For us it’s the same. And I write this especially for anyone who leads a family. A dad, or a husband, or a single mom, or a big brother or big sister who finds himself or herself in the role of the parent. Do the hard work in prayer. Pour out your anguish before God, beforehand, so you can give your family or those you lead the gift of peace and poise during this difficult time.

It’s the absolute best gift you can give when you find yourself leading when the pressure’s on.


1106 Design Love Like Jesus Book Cover

Newly released book now available on Amazon!

Love Like Jesus: How Jesus Loved People (and how you can love like Jesus)

Love Like Jesus begins with the story of how after a life of regular church attendance and Bible study, Bennett was challenged by a pastor to study Jesus. That led to an obsessive seven year deep dive. After pouring over Jesus’ every interaction with another human being, he realized he was doing a much better job of studying Jesus’ words than he was following Jesus’ words and example. The honest and fearless revelations of Bennett’s own moral failures affirm he wrote this book for himself as much as for others.

Love Like Jesus examines a variety of stories, examples, and research, including:

  • Specific examples of how Jesus communicated God’s love to others.
  • How Jesus demonstrated all five of Gary Chapman’s love languages (and how you can too).
  • The story of how Billy Graham extended Christ’s extraordinary love and grace toward a man who misrepresented Jesus to millions.
  • How to respond to critics the way Jesus did.
  • How to love unlovable people the way Jesus did.
  • How to survive a life of loving like Jesus (or how not to become a Christian doormat).
  • How Jesus didn’t love everyone the same (and why you shouldn’t either).
  • How Jesus guarded his heart by taking care of himself–he even napped–and why you should do the same.
  • How Jesus loved his betrayer Judas, even to the very end.

With genuine unfiltered honesty, Love Like Jesus, shows you how to live a life according to God’s definition of success: A life of loving God well, and loving the people around you well too.

A life of loving like Jesus.

(Kindlehardcover, and paperback now available on Amazon.)

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