Today at the Men's Tuesday Morning Breakfast, we talked about Jesus in the Garden of Gathsemane (read Matthew 26:36-46 here). It takes place on Thursday of Holy Week, after the Last Supper, late in the evening.
It is such a fascinating scene. The Divine Word made flesh praying in the Garden that God's Will would be done...Why? Because, the very human Jesus does not want to endure the Cross. "If there's any other way?...But, I will do whatever you will, Father God."
It is the loneliest of scenes in all of Scripture. Yes, Jesus' friends and students all fell asleep instead of staying awake and praying for him, but I think it's more than that. On the eve of arguably Jesus' most important day, he's not so sure. The Cross is closer than ever before. The betrayal is closer than we would expect. The comfortability of the now is more tangible than ever. Today, worship, teaching, and friendship. Tomorrow, suffering, despair, and death.
Too often we dehumanize Jesus. It's actually a long standing idea: Jesus was too good, too perfect, too divine to be like us. "There's no way that Jesus got tired, smelly, irritated, cranky, angry, or even scared." Yet, the Scripture says that he was fully human. Just like us, and so he must have had the same feelings that we have.
Jesus was scared in the Garden. Reluctant to give up all the things we take for granted, I believe he knew what was coming, and he didn't want to do it. But, he did want to do what God called him to do. I think that is what I take away from the Garden: Jesus' love for God was so strong that he would do anything God called him to do...Sounds obvious! Of course Jesus would! Yet...
Often I find myself not wanting to do what I know I'm called to do: To leave the comfort of my bed at 2 a.m. to pray and talk with someone in the mist of a crisis that words cannot fix. To turn the other cheek when people are intentionally hurting me. To apologize for hurting someone else. In these moments, I hear the struggle happening in my heart: You don't want to do this...You don't HAVE to do this...You don't DESERVE this.
I'm positive that Jesus felt the same way, except those things were way more true of him!
So when I taste that moment, I know that I have tasted just a tiny speck of Jesus' night in the Garden. This helps me to understand just how unobvious the temptation really was for Jesus, how human he really was, and, ultimately, how much the Father loves you and me: He loves us enough to put Jesus through this. Enough that when Jesus begged for something different, God stuck to the plan.
In the Gardens of our lives, my prayer is that we might find the strength in our hearts to love God and follow Him...wherever the Spirit may lead.