One of the many excellent songs of my teenage years was the collaboration between Queen and David Bowie, “Under Pressure”. Some of the lyrics are particularly appropriate for these days we find ourselves in (pun intended) – “It’s the terror of knowing what the world is about, watching some good friends screaming, “Let me out!”…Chipping around, kick my brains around the floor, these are the days it never rains but it pours” – sounds about right for how so many of us are feeling right now, especially with the good weather outside and a Bank Holiday weekend approaching. Cabin fever has been setting in, and we deal with that in all sorts of ways from humour to anger to resignation and frustration.
On this Maundy Thursday, I want to encourage you by reminding (or telling you for the first time) that Jesus knows and understands how we are feeling. Get a Bible, or open your Bible app, and find Matthew 26, verses 36 to 46. Here in the Garden of Gethsemene we see Jesus under IMMENSE pressure as He faces up to the imminent conclusion of His Mission – His betrayal, arrest, torture and crucifixion. Matthew writes, “he said to them, ‘My soul is overwhelmed to the point of death'”, while Luke (chapter 22v44) says, “being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” ( It’s a recognised condition, called Hematidrosis, brought on when people are faced with extreme circumstances and pressure in their lives).
Mentally and emotionally, Jesus was afraid of what would happen in the next 24 hours; that’s why He felt the pressure. But spiritually, too, He knew that what He was going to do would break His eternal relationship with the Father as He became sin for us. The Bible says God cannot look on sin, and that’s why the sky went black on Good Friday. This pressure produced one of the most powerful and inspiring prayers in the Bible – “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. yet not as I will, but as you will.” Jesus prays that three times.
So if you’re feeling under pressure, know that He understands and is with you in it. Know also that He has overcome the greatest pressure put on any human being and invites you to trust Him with your fears and concerns. Today, take your pressure to Jesus. With His help you don’t have to stay UNDER pressure, but you can RISE ABOVE it and THRIVE because of it as it takes you deeper into a relationship with Him, and He works through it to reveal more of His love to you.