April 9, 2009
Maundy Thursday: Overwhelmed in Gethsemane
"Then Jesus went with His disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and He said to them, 'Sit here while I go over there and pray.' He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with Him, and He began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then He said to them, 'My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.'
Going a little farther, He fell with His face to the ground and prayed, 'My Father,if it is possible, may this cup be taken from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.'" --Matthew 26:36-39
In this passage, I find a place in Scripture where I can more closely identify with the feelings of Jesus. In other places in the gospels, He seems powerful, wiley and wise in dealing with the Pharisees who wanted to trap Him in an incorrect statement, and miraculous as He healed sick people, fed hungry people, and raised a dead man, Lazarus.
Here I encounter the human part of Jesus, someone who knows He is facing death and doesn't want to be alone. Here is someone who is aware of what is about to happen (betrayal, a sham trial, a tortuous execution, and death) and has chosen not to change His destiny. Here also is someone who, in prayer, tells God the Father what He wants, but is also willing to accept God's will over His own.
It's a bloody night before a bloody day.
"While He was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and elders of the people. Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: 'The one I kiss is the man; arrest Him.' Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, 'Greetings, Rabbi!' and kissed Him.
Jesus replied, 'Friend, do what you came for.' --Matthew 26:47-50
Here we see no supernatural power, no calling down of angels, no miracles. A mob in the night comes and arrests a man who has been sold out by one of His followers and is about to be deserted by the rest of them. Evil looms large and God appears silent. But it's not the end of the story.