My focus today is on what happened that night in the garden. But, before we reflect on that, it’s good to remember what happened right before. Jesus had just shared the final meal he would share with his closest friends. We recognize the elements of our present day sacrament, Holy Communion. So many truths were revealed during the meal, I’m sure the disciple’s heads were spinning.
Jesus’ response to all of that was to pray. It sounds like praying in the garden was a regular thing. This time, Jesus was hoping the disciples would to stay awake and ponder all that was happening. Jesus knew that he needed his Father more than ever this night. I try to put myself there in the garden, too. With all that Jesus had just shared, I don’t think I could have fallen asleep!
But the disciples did abandon Jesus in that moment. Whether it was their full bellies after dinner, exhaustion from ministry, or Satan’s grip on them, they couldn’t stay awake and pray. Jesus had even warned them ahead of time. “Pray that you will not give in to temptation.”
We’re given a glimpse into Jesus’ heart at that moment. His plea to his Father shows us his humanity to be sure. A painful death is not anybody’s desire for their future. Was Jesus hoping that God would change his mind? Perhaps there was another way to save the world from sin? A sacrifice was to be made. Jesus was our sacrificial lamb. Despite Jesus’ desire for a different plan, he acknowledged and submitted to his Father’s will. What a marvelous example for us!
Oftentimes when I pray, I find myself telling God what I want to happen in a given situation. As if I have any idea what is “best!” It’s laughable! Jesus models for us that our prayers should always be, “Your will, God, be done.” We have to be okay with that. God’s will is not always what we’re praying. My struggle is often not knowing what God’s will is and wanting to make sure I act in accordance with his will in making decisions, etc.
Looking back, how do you think the disciples felt about falling asleep? Were they kicking themselves because they weren’t able to do what Jesus had simply asked them. Or maybe they felt guilty because they had abandoned Jesus and didn’t fight for him. That’s not entirely true. There is the issue with the ear.
Jesus was clear that was not the answer either. “No more of this.” Jesus knew prophecy was being fulfilled, and his hour had come. These people had just witnessed a miracle. Reattaching an ear doesn’t sound like an every day occurrence. Do you think that act had any significance in changing the lives of those who came to arrest him?
Have you ever wondered why Jesus was arrested at night when few people would have been around to witness it? Jesus called it out as “the power of darkness reigns.” Jesus had been popular in the temple. Those scheming to kill him were fearful that they would have a riot on their hands. But God’s plan was in play all along.
We’re not told in this reading what happened to the disciples. They were probably feeling all sorts of emotions. How would you have been feeling? Confused on what was happening? Surprised that Judas had partnered with the religious leaders to capture Jesus? Scared out of your wits that maybe you’d be arrested, too? Helpless not knowing what was going to happen next? The text suggests grief is what caused them to be lulled to sleep.
Take some time today to sit in the garden and pray. Reflect on everything Jesus shared. How are you going to respond? Remember, too, how he warns us to pray so we’ll not give in to temptation. Does this change the way you pray?
Let’s pray. Lord, forgive me for falling asleep and not always being alert to your call. Let every word you have said wash over me, cleanse me, fill me, and energize me. I can’t even imagine the agony you were feeling that night in the garden. Thank you for the intimate example of prayer you gave us. I love being able to talk to you in this way. Reveal to me your will for my life and help me to walk in it always. In Jesus’ name. Amen.