June 2019   
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Luke 12:50 – “I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished!”


Stress.  Just the simple mention of the words causes all kinds of thoughts to rise in our minds doesn’t it?  When we hear it we can instantly think of whatever it is in our lives that is causing us to experience stress.  And in reality we don’t have to think very hard or we don’t have to look very long until we find the source of our stress.  We all have stress and most likely we all keep the cause of that stress close to our minds.

Of course just the mention of the word stress also leads us to think about the negative effects of stress.  Things like high blood pressure, weight gain, sleepless nights, jitteriness, having a short temper, and even depression.  Stress can contribute to all of those things and we know it.  So we do what comes naturally we try to block those stressful things out of our lives, or at the very least we do things that cause us to forget about our stress.

What we don’t think about with stress however is that Jesus Himself experienced stress.  The Bible says that He understands every temptation that comes to us because He has been in our shoes.  He is our Great high priest according to the book of Hebrews but He is a high priest that can sympathize with our weaknesses and with our stress.  How? Because He Himself experienced stress.

We don’t often think about that do we? We look at some of the other people in the Bible and we can see the stress that they faced, but not Jesus.  For some reason we don’t think about Him undergoing stress but the Bible makes it abundantly clear that He did.  He underwent stress, in fact He underwent more stress than you and I can ever imagine. 

He said in Luke 12:50, “I have a baptism to undergo and I will be distressed until it is accomplished.”  What was He talking about? He was talking about the events of the cross.  He was talking about the betrayal and the mockery and the humiliation and the torture and the pain. He knew it was coming, remember He had told them over and over again, that He would be killed and that three days later He would rise again (see especially Mark 8-10).  He knew the cross was ahead of Him, in fact the cross cast a shadow over the entirety of His life.   He knew that He had to face it, and He felt stress because of it.  He told us as much here in Luke 12:50. 

What can we take from that? What does Jesus facing stress say to us today? How does it impact our world? First I believe that it gives comfort.  It comforts us to know that Jesus went through stress just like we do.  It is comforting because He survived the stress that came His way.  It is comforting to know that He got through, but it is also comforting to know that He understands us.  He understands our stress.  Maybe that is why He tells us to “take His yoke upon us because His yoke is easy and His burden is light.”  He wants to alleviate our stress.  That is why He says, “come unto me all you who are weak and heavy laden (read stressed), and I will give you rest.”  It gives me comfort to know that Jesus understands my stress because He has been there and it comforts me to know that He asks me to come to Him when I am stressed, and that when I do He gives me the promise of rest. 

But I also believe that it not only comforts us that Jesus underwent stress, I believe it should also challenge us.  It should challenge us and make us examine our own lives and ask ourselves what is it in my life that causes me stress.  Jesus could have felt stress about His finances (He didn’t even have a place to lay His head).  He could have experienced stress due to His disciples because even though they were with Him every day they never seemed to “get it”.  He could have underwent stress because of His family relationships (we are told that His own family thought He was crazy at some point).  And whereas Jesus might have been under stress because of those things, we are only told that He was stressed when He thought about the cross.  He was stressed not because of Himself, He was stressed because He wanted to do the will of the Father.  He was stressed because He wanted to go to the cross and ransom us from our sins. 

We feel stress over a lot of things don’t we?  Some of them are good things, but sometimes we are stressed only because of selfish things.  Sometimes we are stressed only because of ourselves.  Jesus didn’t feel stress over Himself, Jesus only felt stress over other people.  After all the cross was something that He willingly did for us. 

We feel stress over a lot of things that we shouldn’t feel stress over.  We let ourselves get stressed out by busyness and by messiness.  We let ourselves feel stress over not getting a good parking place or over having to wait in line too long at a drive in.  We feel stress if we gain a pound, or if our clothes don’t fit exactly right.  We feel stress over a co-worker having a bad day, or over our kids not making a perfect grade.  We get stressed over a lot of things that we shouldn’t get stressed over.  In fact studies have shown that only 15% of what we worry about ever happens.  We feel stress over many needless things.

Jesus felt stress as He thought about the reality of the cross.  That stress however enabled us to be forgiven for our times of needless stress and anxiety, and worry.  He underwent the stress of the cross and He understands when we go through stress today.  Because of that He beckons us to come to Him when we are stressed and that when we do, He will give us rest.  He underwent the stress of the cross to give us rest but to also give us forgiveness for the stress that we needlessly feel and for the stress that we give to other people. That is the grace of God.  Hallelujah! What a Savior.