August 11, 2015 was one of the most difficult days of my life. Our son Jackson had open-heart surgery to repair two holes between the chambers of his heart and a faulty valve. We knew about his condition since he was a month old, but knowing surgery was a possibility down the line couldn’t prepare us for it.
In Mark 14:35 Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane. The cross is now before him, his hour has come and we are given a window through which to gaze at the vulnerability of Christ and marvel at the incarnation. Jesus, fully God and fully man, here pleas with the father to take away this cup and free him from this burden which is now unbearably heavy on his soul. Yet, instead of a voice from heaven answering there is silence. No heavens opening, no white dove descending, no “This is my son,” or “In him I am well pleased.” The torture of the cross often overshadows this moment of agony. Jesus cries out to his heavenly father, whom he’s lived with in perfect love and fellowship for all eternity and he hears no response. No affirming words, comfort or reassurance, only the silence of God.
This dreadful night for Jesus is a great comfort to us for two reasons.
First, Jesus here is experiencing disappointment as we do and demonstrates how to respond. Jesus genuinely asks for another option to the cross. It’s not a formality. And he receives silence and a no as an answer. This is so comforting to know Jesus experienced this. Every one of us at some point has wanted something more than anything and yet received a no from God. Wanted a house, wanted food, wanted a certain job, wanted a friend to be healed from cancer, wanted God to save our life. Jesus was tempted in every way as we were yet without sin (Heb 4:15). He wanted to be freed more than anything. So much so he sweat drops of blood! Yet received no as the answer. What’s amazing is his reaction. He believes, obeys and fully submits to the father. Oh that I would obey and submit to God’s will this way, even when it comes at great disappointment to what I want.
Secondly, this moment shows God’s great love for us. Jesus cries out and asks God if there is any other way. He’s distressed and cries out but his words echo in the silence until they fade away into the chill night breeze. The father knew there wasn’t another way and so he’s silent.
When we walked Jackson into the operating room and gave him the oxygen mask he started crying. He was distressed and his tears were saying what he couldn’t articulate: “I don’t want to do this dad! Dad is there any other way? Don’t make me do this please.” And we sat there and cried and held the mask to his face. We didn’t say anything except “We love you.” We had nothing else to say. We simply held him and walked into this dreadful reality.
The Father here has nothing to say. His beloved son, who he had perfect fellowship with since before the world began, was crying out to him. He was asking to make it stop. He was horrified at what had to happen. The father had nothing to say, just tears. The day of Jackson’s surgery we shed tears because Jackson needed surgery to live. The night heaven wept was because Jesus needed to die so we could live. That night God was silent and allowed Jesus to go to the cross to save us. That night Jesus went to the cross for the joy that was set before him and we were that joy. That night Jesus heard the silence of God so we could hear the voice of God calling to us. It was the night heaven wept.