By Doug Hazen
My prayer mentor says there are two things that motivate prayer: crisis and vision. Both are packaged in the person of Jesus through the cross and the resurrection and are our greatest prayer motivators since they affected both earth and heaven. Bigger than the awful storms, earthquakes, and tsunamis we have been seeing in past days, the cross was the convergence of unparalleled evil allowed, and even approved, by God, the Father. Isaiah says it pleased him! I’ve sensed the truth of this profound sacrifice before. Hopefully, it brought most of us to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. But two passages in my reading in the book of Mark this past week blew the lid off.
Mark 14:41 recounts the scene of Jesus coming back to his disciples in Gethsemane after his failed attempt to get them to pray with him. His words are, “The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of…”
Tell me the word he then chooses is “religious leaders”. Those words could truly have been used, but they are not.
How about “temple and political soldiers”? Nope.
Okay, could we go with “an angry, well-armed mob”? Again, true, but those were not his words either. He uses the word…
When I saw this, I was overwhelmed. This is the spotless Lamb of God! This is the One who was always opposed to evil. It never touched him personally until now. All at once the One to whom the entire universe bowed in obedience when he spoke words of creation, now submits himself to SINNERS.
I’ve heard that word before.
Jesus was describing me.
Prayer came easily when I saw this. “Oh, God. This was a crisis that I caused. I am both sorry and grateful. Thank you for bearing my offense at the cross”
Mark 15:16-17 had the same effect. “So the soldiers led him into the palace (that is, the governor’s residence) and called together the whole cohort. They put a purple cloak on him and after braiding a crown of thorns, they put it on him.” (NET Bible). The footnote is shocking. It indicates that the soldiers unwittingly placed God’s curse (Genesis 3) on Christ. The God who damned his creation with thorns now symbolically damns his own Son!
It is a crisis beyond imagination. Jesus then died alone; abandoned by everyone and, in his mind, even his own Father. Again, prayer comes easy…
“Oh God! This is unthinkable. Jesus got what I deserved. He who knew no sin became sin for me that I might become the ‘righteousness of God’. Thank you seems so trivial. No, more than my thanks, I give you my life. It’s yours.”
Matt Redman says it well, “Once again I look upon the cross where you died…Once again I pour out my life.”
Prayer motivated by the cross. And we haven’t even touched the resurrection!