The Longest Night

You have been my God from my mother’s womb. Be not far from me, for trouble is near; for there is none to help.
–Psalm 22:10-11

The psalmist said, “Weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning” (30:5). Perhaps you have experienced that yourself. You know what it is like to go through a difficult night that seems like it will never, ever end. Perhaps you have spent such a night sitting up waiting for a teenager to come home. Or maybe you have spent a night tossing and turning in bed, unable to sleep because of some fear that has gripped your mind. Or maybe you were sitting in a hospital room beside a loved one who was about to enter heaven.

There is something about the darkness of night that intensifies whatever struggle we are experiencing. This week, as we remember Holy Week, we are going to look at the longest night in Jesus’s life–a night in which He experienced temptation, betrayal by somebody close to Him, and abandonment by everyone He trusted in.

On the final evening before His crucifixion, Jesus had gathered with His disciples to celebrate the Passover meal in Jerusalem. And the departure from their Passover celebration set the stage for the first of the tribulations Jesus would experience that night.

Look at Luke 22:39: “He came out and proceeded as was His custom to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples also followed Him.” It is the Mount of Olives where in about seven weeks Jesus would ascend back into heaven, and it is the Mount of Olives where one day Jesus will return to earth. But on this night, Jesus was going to the Mount of Olives for a different reason.

As you walk down from the pinnacle of the Mount of Olives, you come upon a grove of olive trees. Olive oil was an important commodity in Jesus’s day. When I visited this garden, the guide pointed out a large cylindrical stone that was used to press the olives into olive oil. The garden of olive trees that Jesus and His disciples went to was called Gethsemane, which in Hebrew literally means “oil press.” The name referred to the pressing of olives to make olive oil, but it also would refer to the great press Jesus would feel that night as He struggled with the will of God.

Verse 40 says, “When He arrived at the place, He said to them, ‘Pray that you may not enter into temptation.’” That night, Jesus’s disciples were going to be tempted to deny the Lord–and they failed that test. But Jesus was going to face His own temptation, a temptation to disobey the will of His heavenly Father. And fortunately for us, Jesus passed that test with flying colors.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Longest Night” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2017.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.

 

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