39 “And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed …”
Matthew 26:39 (NASB)
When we think of strength, we think of a running back stiff-arming a defender or a golfer hitting a 350-yard drive. We think of Lebron James muscling past defenders.
Strength looks impressive. It makes us ooh and aah. It is appealing. It makes SportsCenter’s Top 10.
Think of Jesus’ last hours.
He fell on His face in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was captured. He lost a court case. He was hit in the face and He did not respond. He fell carrying a cross. He was fixed to beams, then died.
“Strong” is the last adjective that comes to mind to describe Jesus’ last hours. No one was oohing and aahing at His strength. He was not appealing, He was appalling. Onlookers were so embarrassed that they looked away.
It seemed like Jesus had no backbone or spirit. He seemed powerless. His actions were not compatible with our notions of strength.
We need to rethink our concept of strength. We need to rethink what it means to be a “strong Christian.”
Athlete, we need to include crucifixion-type weakness in our definition of strength. We need to think of Gethsemane and Golgotha, not just the Resurrection when we think of strength.
Consider the sequence of Christ’s life. The Resurrection came after the Cross. The Ascension came after humiliation. Our lives follow the same pattern.
For Jesus, it took strength to be weak. It does for us too. It takes backbone to be hit and not hit back. It takes brawn to crumble. It takes spirit to go to Gethsemane and Golgotha.
Athlete, do not shy away from the kind of strength that makes you look weak, strange and unattractive. Seek it.
Reflect: Think of someone you consider to be a strong Christian. Write down two things they have done that appeared weak or unattractive, but were actually displays of strength.