If you asked someone to describe Jesus’s character in a few words, I would expect words about love, kindness, meekness, humility, sacrifice etc. All good examples, but there is one character quality that I’m not sure I’ve ever heard attributed to Jesus, courage.
Maybe it’s my poor memory from being hit in the head one too many times, but we as a Christain culture don’t seem to recognize the insane amount of courage that Jesus displayed in His life and journey to the cross. Recognizing Jesus’s courage is crucial for two reasons: one, it makes you appreciate His sacrifice that much more, and two, it sparks a desire to emulate His courage in your own life.
As we explore this topic, it’s important to remember that courage is a choice, not a feeling. We will see this choice displayed in Jesus numerous times on His road to the cross, as He no doubt battles with the human nature of fear.
In Luke 9:21 Jesus foretold His death “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed on the third day be raised”. Jesus knew why He came to this earth, it was to sacrifice Himself for us. This plan didn’t suddenly arise after he was arrested in Gethsemane, it was the plan since the beginning.
Jesus again tells his disciples in Luke 9:44 that His death is around the corner “The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men.” A few verses later in 51, it says “when the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.” Chew on that for a minute. Jerusalem is where Jesus would be arrested and ultimately brutally murdered. So when Jesus was but days away from death, He turned and faced it.
Jesus boldy continues His ministry, fulfilling His mission and His purpose, as He gracefully walks closer and closer to the cross. This culminates in Luke 22:29 where we find Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane on the evening of His arrest. Jesus prayed to His father “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done. And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony, he prayed more earnestly; and His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”
The first thing that jumps out to me is that Jesus didn’t necessarily want to die. While being both God and human, Jesus knew the pain and suffering that lay ahead of Him. My first reaction was “well, Jesus knew what He had to do”. People, hear me. He didn’t have to do this. He wanted to do this. Of course He didn’t want to have to endure the torture, the beatings, and the nails, but He knew this was the only way. And He wanted you and me, so in this moment, He chose courage- He didn’t just feel it.
Even after the angel strengthened Him, Jesus was in agony and began to pray harder. Agony is defined as extreme suffering. Jesus was in agony just thinking about what was about to happen. His agony was so great that He began to sweat blood. This rare phenomenon is called Hematidrosis. Hematidrosis can occur during times of severe stress and anxiety. Essentially what happens is your blood vessels rupture and the blood can come out of your sweat glands, nails, tear ducts, and nose. (If you want to read more, my comprehensive research was conducted on the Hematidrosis Wikipedia page).
Take a moment. Take a moment to reflect and appreciate what your saviour experienced on your behalf. That is a fear, an anxiety, an agony I cannot even come close to imagining. But yet again, Jesus chooses courage. Moments later Jesus was arrested, by some weak mortal soldiers. Jesus could have called down legions of angels and been like “yeah, sinful man just ain’t worth it, peace out y’all”. But He chose courage and He walked to His death willingly. For me and for you.
I feel like so often I have failed to give Jesus the credit He deserves in this. No one had to go find Him. They didn’t capture Him. He delivered Himself into the hands of the enemy. On top of that, it’s easy to assume that since He’s God, that the cross and the days leading up to the cross were no big deal. I mean, He conquered death and rose from the dead, right? But scripture paints a clear picture of the manhood of Jesus during this time. His suffering was real, and so was His courage.
If you’re a first responder, or a member of the military, you have literally signed a blank check to your community and to your country. We know that part of the deal when we sign up is that there is a chance we may have to lay our lives down. But we don’t lay our lives down. We fight as we go down. We have all been in scenarios where we tell ourselves “whelp, I had a good run… this might be it”. And if you’re reading this, thankfully that thought didn’t come true. But whenever I’ve walked into those situations, yes I’ve been afraid, but I knew that I was going to fight with every ounce in my body until I bled out, should it come to that.
But how much more terrifying would it be to know that you could defeat your enemy, to know that you could easily prevail if you tried, but to simply lay your life down. That’s incomprehensible.
If you struggle with fear or anxiety, know that your saviour experienced it too. When you’re in the trenches praying, He hears you and He is interceding for you, remembering how He felt in the garden. If Jesus was able to choose courage, then we can too. Not because we are that strong, but because when He chose courage, He conquered death. And if He defeated death, I need not fear it. I can choose courage and do the job that God has called me to do.