The “Last Supper” was over. The disciples did not understand it as the “Last Supper,” but Jesus knew. Nothing is a surprise to Him. Not even this evening. What happened in the hours that lied before Him was part of God’s plan right from the beginning. Jesus was on a mission to rescue the people that He loved.
As the disciples (minus Judas) walked along the dusty road in the cool of the night, their feet, recently washed by the Servant, became coated again with dirt. And as they travelled, Jesus spoke to His disciples about many truths – truths like Jesus being the only way to the Father and about abiding in Jesus, like branches on a vine, and – oh, so much more. (See John 14 – 17). He comforted them with the words, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in Me” (John 14:1). And Jesus prayed. He prayed for the disciples. He prayed for Himself. And He prayed for you and for me. Remarkable.
Shortly after they set out, they arrived at the gate of the Garden of Gethsemane, at the base of the Mount of Olives. The garden was a favorite place of refuge for Jesus. Again, Jesus went in to spend time with His Father in Heaven. This time, though, He would intensely begin the journey of coming face-to-face with the suffering that He would endure on the cross.
The biblical account of what transpired in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-41; Luke 22:39-46) is intense. My heart is heavy as I imagine (if that is even possible) what my Savior had to endure for me and for all. I am humbled by His willingness to submit to the difficult will of God. I am amazed by His love. And I am strengthened by His example of how I can live, being obedient to the Father in the daily struggles of life. Jesus had to carry the weight of all the sin of the world. God does not ask us to do that, but He may ask us to carry something.
Dear reader, it is hard to know and follow the will of God, isn’t it? It’s scary and confusing, at times. It is difficult to do -- well, actually, it is impossible without the grace of God.
Believe that God is Who He says He is. He is loving, kind, faithful and just. Pray for His will to be done, and pray that He will give you the grace to be obedient to whatever He may be asking you to do. Trust that His way is best, even when it seems very, very hard. Stand firm. Be strong and courageous. Walk humbly.
Turn to Him and call out to Him, “Abba! Father! PaPa! Daddy!” (just like Jesus did – Mark 14:36) and believe that His will is good and perfect, and that He loves you very much, with an unfailing love. Jesus knew that, and we can know that, too.
The Garden of Gethsemane is a difficult place to enter with Jesus, for here we see His pain, unlike we’ve seen it before. I think that we often would much rather stand outside of the gate. Some may not care to enter. Others may be too frightened to face what happened there. And even others fear their own guilt and shame. But as we are willing to step in to the garden, trusting the Lord to hold our hand and show us what He desires for us to see about Himself, we can begin to understand the depth of His sorrow and sacrifice as He faced all the brokenness and sin of the world. Here we are more amazed at the breadth of His love. And here He grows in us an incredible joy, lush in beauty and color, in this season of celebration. It is here, in the garden of Jesus’ willingness, sacrifice and pain where our faith is strengthened and our hope enlarged. Remarkable, indeed.
(If you would like to listen to more about Jesus and His coming face-to-face with His own suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane, click here, and then click on the link for February 10, 2010 - Gethsemane: Mark 14:32-42 . The above is just a sample of what I shared this winter at our Women’s Bible Study. You will also find more links to listen to the other lessons I taught in the series that I titled, “Remarkable Moments with the Savior,” when we stepped into the stories of Jesus and the people that He came face-to-face with – people like you and me who were hurting, hungry, hopeless, fearful, loving, critical and more).