Elijah and I have been leisurely reading through The Jesus Storybook Bible since we received it in the mail. Sometimes we read faithfully every day, at other times weeks go by between the stories. These past few weeks I have been trying to read more consistently, hoping to finish before the New Year, when we can start our other book, The Big Picture Story Bible.
So as I sat down to read a few days ago, I realized that we had come to the stories surrounding Christ's death - the last supper, the prayer in the garden, etc . . . I debated stopping there and backtracking to the advent story, it being the Christmas season and all, but decided that Elijah was getting enough nativity stories from other sources that we would continue on in the correct order of the book.
This afternoon, as I laid on his bed, reading "just one more story" before naptime, I was struck by the simple retelling of the story about Christ's prayer in the garden:
"Papa! Father!" Jesus cried. And he fell to the ground. "is there any other way to get your chldren back? To heal their hearts? To get rid of the poison?"
But Jesus knew - there was no other way. All the poison of sin was going to have to go into his own heart.
God was going to pour into Jesus' heart all the sadness and brokenness in people's hearts. He was going to pour into Jesus' body all the sickness in people's bodies. God was going to have to blame his son for everything that had gone wrong. It would crush Jesus.
But there was something else, something even more horrible. When people ran away from God, they lost God - it was what happened when they ran away. Not being close to God was like a punishment. Jesus was going to take that punishment.
Jesus knew what that meant. He was going to lose his Father - and that, Jesus knew, would break his heart in two.
Violent sobs shook Jesus' whole body.
Then Jesus was quiet. Like a lamb. "I trust you, Papa," he said. "Whatever you say, I will do."
As I read, tears fell down my cheeks. I don't think Elijah noticed. But the power of the story impacted me in a way that my emotions haven't been impacted in a while. What a powerful event to read about that perfectly coincides with the celebration of Christ's birth. Our excitement and awe at the wonder of the incarnation shouldn't end there. He came for a reason, and I thank you, God, for using my children's Bible to remind me of that reason today.