What a roller coaster of emotions. As we spend quiet time together today it’s time to really focus in on Jesus’ final hours with his friends, those closest to him. Jesus knew all along this day was coming, yet now that it is here there was so much to say. His disciples still didn’t seem to understand fully the importance of what was about to unfold. We can see clearly, yet do we still grasp what is happening? We’ve read the words, but what is happening in our hearts?
Each of these passages reveals something we can hold on to as we journey through our own dark night. There are beautiful promises. How often have we questioned something happening our lives, in our world? Jesus’ words in John, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.” Like Thomas, we’re still not sure, we want more assurance, more information. Jesus calms our fears when he says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” Jesus is our answer. When the tempests of life try to overwhelm us, we need only rest in these words. We may not know what the future holds, but we know who does know. Now we can find peace in the Father.
Imagine sitting around the table with Jesus that night. Little did they know that this would be their last meal with Jesus. When Jesus blessed the bread and the wine, he was commemorating his life for us. Every time we come to the table in communion we relive this night. Jesus body was given for us. His blood was shed as a sacrifice for many, for us. We take Jesus’ body and blood, we hold it in our hands! How does that make you feel? Set your feelings of unworthiness aside and gratefully accept this gift.
After dinner, it was time to pray. Let’s join Jesus in the garden. You’ll recognize the scene, a grove of twisted olive trees. The moon glistening from above yet the shadows encircle you. Do you see him? His face is stained with tears and dirt. Jesus has been praying in earnest to his Father. “He was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood.” Yet, what was his prayer? For God’s will to be done. In our times of despair and heartache, we, too, should pray as Jesus did that God’s will be done.
Jesus warned his disciples and we, too, can heed his words. “Pray that you will not give in to temptation.” It would be easy to fall prey to the comforts of life, to the easy way out, to the temptations that lure us away from a relationship with God. We need to be on guard, on alert, praying for strength and wisdom to endure temptation. What is that for you? As we walk through Holy Week, we should all be focusing on our areas of weakness. Where is Satan trying to wedge into our hearts and minds? How is he trying to keep us separated from our devotion to God? Jesus wants us to pray.
It seems like out of nowhere Judas and the crowd arrived on the scene with clamoring and purpose. The moment of solitude and prayer, and slumber for the disciples, came to an abrupt halt. Back to reality like a slap in the face. The time had come for Jesus to be arrested and taken away like a criminal. Since when did loving others become a crime? It had to happen this way. Jesus’ blood had to be shed because it was God’s plan.
What would you have done? Join the disciples and flee out of fear? Tried to stop the crowd? At this point in the story, I just fall to my knees and weep. It all seems so unfair. Am I that special that Jesus endured all of this for me?
Take some time in the garden to pray. Imagine the glory of God surrounding you and giving you a peace like you’ve never felt before. This night was meant for you.
Let’s pray … Lord, I am overcome with gratitude. Praise is bubbling inside, yet I feel like tears will flow instead. May I never forget what you have done for me. May I remember your words of warning and your example of love. Use me to bring that message to the world. In Jesus’ name. Amen.