3. Wrestle | Sealed: An Easter Devotion
Join us for our six-part Bible Study series, Sealed: An Easter Devotion, looking at what was sealed and established in Jesus' journey to the cross, through his death and resurrection and into eternity. The study is available to view online, on social media or freely printable for all in multiple sizes. It is available to use for anyone seeking to encounter Christ.
This six-part devotional was written by Mission Leader Rosy Keane of The Salvation Army Women's Ministries of New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa. The word ‘seal’ means to establish or secure something definitively. In the same manner, Sealed: An Easter Devotion will explore all that was established and secured through the six themes.
3. Wrestle | Sealed: An Easter Devotion
‘Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. ‘Abba, Father,’ he said, ‘everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” - Mark 14:35-36
We’ve focused on the betrayal of Judas, but now let’s shift to Christ’s perspective in the hours leading up to his trial and death. The disciples and others met together at what became known as the ‘Last Supper’. Christ invites them to contemplate the wine and bread as his blood that would be spilled and his body that would be broken. He says in John 6, ‘I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.’
Similar to eat is ‘consume’, meaning ‘take up altogether’. Jesus’ offer of eternal life is available only when we ‘take up altogether’ his teaching and follow him. What parts of Christianity have you taken up easily? What parts of following God seem a little harder? How can you grow in discipline in these areas of struggle? Write down one action will you take to grow spiritually.
These consuming, graphic metaphors were a sign of what was to come as Christ was nailed to a cross for our sins and died to make atonement for our unrighteousness. Christ was to become the final supper for us to live on. John 6:27 says, ‘Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.’
Read John 6:51-57, then reflect:
What stands out for you in this scripture? What is hard to understand? What makes perfect sense?
Luke uses similarly graphic language to describe Christ’s anguish in the Garden of Gethsemane where Christ and the Disciples withdrew to pray following the supper. Luke 22:44 says, ‘And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.’
Read this scripture three times aloud. How does this make you feel? Can you picture Jesus in this garden, kneeling or lying in dirt? Jesus’ tears falling and mixing to make mud? What does that remind you of?
Read Isaiah 53 aloud.
What sticks out to you? What do you notice first? Jesus wrestled in this garden of crushing. Jesus sought the Father three times in prayer, asking that the cup might be taken away if at all possible. His fate for our sake loomed high, and Jesus looked to what was to come with dread.
Gethsemane means Garden of Olives or ‘oil press’. This seems poetic justice for the Lamb who must be pressed and crushed for our iniquities and his blood spilled for the satisfaction of righteousness. Only by the spilling of Christ’s blood might we be cleansed. Hallelujah!
Read Mark 14:1-42, then reflect:
Sense what Jesus was feeling in each change of scenery. What do you think he felt as he was anointed? As he gave instructions for his ‘last meal’? As he ate for the last time? As he ate with his betrayer? As he prayed in the garden with his disciples for the last time? How does his anguish strike you?
The disciples fell asleep repeatedly. Jesus was in turmoil. What are some words given in the scripture for Christ’s state of mind? Write them down. Jesus reiterates three times, ‘Yet not what I will, but what you will.’ With this declaration of obedience, Jesus sealed his future, secured our inheritance and set out towards death. Pray as you reflect on this poem.
Man of Many Sorrows by Rosy Keane
'You are a man of many sorrows
And you gather in a garden where trouble brews
And gathers like a brewing cloud
Your brood of chicks
The ones you gather
Fall asleep as you brood upon
Your impending task
The man who lifts the world
On his back.
Your brow is glistening
A writing of spirits deep within you
A writhing of hope within your veins
Which will soon sing out
The blood that rushes from your heart rushing to cover the sins of your daughters and sons
But for now it’s wet and heavy
And gathering in drops
upon your brow.'