Day 37 - The Garden

Day 37 - The Garden

Written by: Staci Lawrence

Matthew 26: 36-46
36 Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.” 37 He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed. 38 He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
39 He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
40 Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? 41 Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!”
42 Then Jesus left them a second time and prayed, “My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away[a] unless I drink it, your will be done.” 43 When he returned to them again, he found them sleeping, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open.
44 So he went to pray a third time, saying the same things again. 45 Then he came to the disciples and said, “Go ahead and sleep. Have your rest. But look—the time has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Up, let’s be going. Look, my betrayer is here!”

I love this picture of the beautiful garden with all its lush vegetation. In an area that was primarily desert, hilly, filled with homes and heavily populated, there was little space left for such extravagant spaces. Many people I know use gardening as their therapy, their place for solace. They like to spend time in their gardens to think, pray, meditate, heal, and the dirt between their fingers is like salve on a wound. Something about that garden heals.

It doesn’t come as a surprise to me that Jesus enters a garden for the same purpose as my gardening-loving friends. I imagine that Jesus is feeling a bit overwhelmed and is in need of solace and time with His Father. Its here in the garden where we get a glimpse of human-like feelings Jesus had to be experiencing as He knew what trouble lay ahead.

Jesus is submitting to the will of God and the reality of that struggle is intense. Unrelenting agony so powerful it produces sweat in the form of blood. It was a struggle in which the outcome swayed in the balance. Things happen to every one of us in this world that we cannot understand. It is then that faith is tried to its utmost limits. And every man has his private Gethsemane, and every man has to learn to say, "Thy will be done."

Jesus had his closest confidants with him, yet He felt completely alone. Loneliness like the dark of night. The disciples were so exhausted from the drama of the last days and hours that they could not stay awake. And Jesus had to fight his battle all alone. That also is true of every man. There are certain things a man must face and certain decisions a man must make in the awful loneliness of his own soul. There are times when other helpers fade and comforts flee. But in that loneliness there is for us the presence of One who, in Gethsemane, experienced it and came through it.
Jesus’ trust in God was more powerful than his sorrow. We see that trust even better in Mark's account, where Jesus begins his prayer: "Abba, Father" ( Mark 14:36). He spoke to his heavenly Father in a childlike, trustful, and intimate way as a little child to its father. We know how our children speak to us and what they call us who are fathers. That is the way in which Jesus spoke to God. Even when he did not fully understand, even when his one conviction was that God was urging him to a cross, he called Abba, as might a little child. Here indeed is trust, a trust which we must also have in that God whom Jesus taught us to know as Father.

Lastly, we see the courage of Jesus. "Rise," he said. "The time for prayer, and the time for the garden is past. Now is the time for action. Let us face life at its grimmest and men at their worst." Jesus rose from his knees to go out to the battle of life. That is what prayer is for. In prayer, a man kneels before God that he may stand erect before men. In prayer, a man enters heaven so that he may face the battles of earth.

In a place I imagine to be so fragrant and plentiful, we see Jesus’ emotions also in plenty. We see how Jesus wrestled in agony to the point of sweating blood and how he endured loneliness through his uncertainty. Yet, Jesus trusted God with a childlike faith and rose to face death. And face it He did, with a fierceness we can’t understand.

We are all facing some kind of uncertainty - and if you aren’t now, you will. Know that our Jesus has felt all of the same emotions during His time of uncertainty - agony and loneliness. But he prayed with fierceness and rose to face his battle triumphant! How fierce are you praying through your uncertainty? Maybe today you write your prayers as a different way to articulate the strength and power of your prayers!
Abba, Father - hear my cry! Hear the anguish in my voice as I call out in agony and loneliness. Help me as I struggle through the days of uncertainty as I know you understand. Father, while its hard for me to pray for Your will to be done, I know you love me and will always be with me. Amen