Lessons from Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane (Lent Series Week 5)
Today, we venture into a section of Scripture that breaks my heart. As a friend of Jesus, and as someone (like you) who is getting to know him better and better, the passages that capture Jesus’ final days are difficult to read. But they are so very, very crucial to understanding why he came.
I’m not naive enough to compare my suffering and pain with that of Jesus. But this past year I had what was, for me, a Garden of Gethsemane moment. I felt God asking me to do something that would cause deep pain. I prayed, as Jesus did, that God would allow for a different scenario: a much less painful one. If there was another way, I wanted it. I prayed for it. I cried for it. But in the end, no other way was revealed, and I submitted to God’s way. His will was not mine, but by his strength and because of my trust of him, I submitted.
Now, as I again read Jesus’ garden plea for an alternate plan, I am struck not by what he experienced, but how he experienced it. I’m challenged to more intentionally follow his example the next time I have a Garden of Gethsemane moment.
Look at the words from Scripture:
“Then Jesus went with them….” (Matt. 26:36) Jesus knew he was God’s son. He knew the plan was for him to die (he told his disciples several times) and he knew the time was coming. Even the one and only Son of God does not travel the road alone. This blows my mind. I often think of Jesus as an American Superman – an individualistic immortal who takes on death all by himself. But in reality, he is the fully human incarnation of God – and he is a great example of how to live in healthy community. He has existed in the community of the Trinity for eternity, and he lived as a man in community. When he faced the greatest trial, he brought his friends to battle. The next time I go into a Garden moment, I will do the same.
“…an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him. He prayed more fervently...” (Luke 22:43-44) In these words I’m challenged again. Christ’s example reminds me that God’s help is not for our reduction of stress and pain, his help is for our strength. God’s help is for our ability to accomplish what he wants us to accomplish. I have to admit that when I enter Gethsemane moments, my prayer is for God to take me out of the garden. I virtually never pray for him accomplish what he wants to accomplish in the garden. In different words: I pray to be delivered from the agony, not to be strengthened through the agony, but Jesus exemplified the latter.
You might be in the middle of a Garden of Gethsemane moment right now. If so, have you asked your fellow believers and friends to come with you, or are you trying to face it alone?
In your reading again of this portion of Jesus’ journey, were you confronted by any new perspective or realizations? What were they?
Check out the first post in our Lenten devotional here.
This was an excerpt from Easter is Coming, a Devotional Journey with Jesus. For all six weeks of Lent devotionals, please download the e-book here.
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