Saturday, March 3, 2012

Lenten Devotional 12: Spirit and Flesh; Fully God and Fully Human

Sunday, March 4, 2012
Scripture reading: Mark 14:32-42

As we have been in this time of Lent (a season of lament and repentance) the experience differs for us all. There may be moments of sorrow, joy, hunger, peace, unrest, reconcile, angst, comfort, loneliness, community, religious fervor, and/or divine turmoil. Lament and Repentance change our mindset (this may or may not be an uncomfortable experience).

For people, like me, faith is not grounded in experience, but it is an element of the journey. In our passage today, Jesus knows what is coming and, like many of us, the coming trial has him apprehensive (vv. 35-36). The humanity of Jesus is part of what brings our understanding of God into divine relationship. God isn’t this distant being that cannot relate to what it’s like to be human. Jesus, God incarnate, knows what it is to lament and experience great sorrow.

Jesus understood that, “the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (v. 38b). This is what it meant to be God incarnate: of spirit (pneuma) and flesh (sarx); divine and human. I believe he said these words about himself (not about the godliness or sinfulness of human beings). After he says those words he prays again that the Father God “remove this cup from [him]...” (vv. 36, 39).

If our savior felt the human emotions of fear and trembling over his calling to die for us and only the Spirit of God could do the will of the Father through him; how are we surprised by our own human weakness? Jesus is Lord, fully God and fully man; yet, he knew the lamenting sorrow of human suffering. It is only by the work of God that the Holy Spirit graciously works in our lives. For, the Holy Spirit is willing to do what we cannot do for ourselves, but the flesh (substance of being human) is weak. This is the work of God alone.

Father God, many of us may ask you to remove the cup of plight from our lives because it is more than we are willing or able to bear. However, the work of your Holy Spirit does what our immutable will cannot do and carries us through times of trial. The fact that Christ understood our emotions is a gift to us. Thanks be to God for the work of grace and the cross. In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

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