"Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, 'Sit here while I go over there and pray.'"
Have you ever tried to sit in the garden with Jesus? Several Christian denominations recreate that situation on Maundy Thursday. They go off into another place where they sit in the presence of God. The room is dark and only lit with candles. The mood is sober and anxious. It's a time of contemplation, a time of prayer.
Last night I had the chance to participate in this. Closing my eyes I could imagine myself in the garden, attempting to stay awake while Jesus was praying. While I sat there praying and worshipping, I could hear others doing the same. Some were shuffling their feet, or moving their prayer beads. Occassionally one of us would cough, or breath heavily. After a very short time I heard a yawn somewhere. I imagined Jesus saying to me, "can you not stay awake with me one hour?"
All to often we think, if I were there I'd have stayed awake! If I were there, I'd not have betrayed him! If I were there! Then when we are really faced with it, and we realize the difficult position those men where in. It had been a long day, they had finished dinner and it was late at night. Their minds were exhausted from the day and all the wonderful teachings and thoughts they had learned from their master. They weren't sitting down to fall asleep. They simply were human. As we are human. How often do we spiritually fall asleep and do something that we know we shouldn't have? Are we trying to keep vigil with Christ? Knowing that he is about to be betrayed by our own flesh? Or do we just go through life only thinking of Him on Sunday?
As I sat there picturing in my mind the scene, I grew nervous and anxious. Knowing that at any moment there would be soldiers and Judas. That my Jesus would be turned off and betrayed with a kiss. That there would be soldier's who would beat him, mock him, and crucify him. Then God reminded me that we betray Him often. We proclaim our love for Jesus and then we live a normal life. We proclaim our hearts to God, but then we walk out of the church or worship service and go back to living just a normal, sinful life. We go in and kiss Jesus on the cheek, and then forget Him while we go enjoy life's pleasures.
The Garden scene is a powerful reminder that we have to be alert, be vigilant. Keep our lamps full of oil, continually living for Jesus. Not only when at church but daily dieing to our flesh. Carefully living so that we are neither falling asleep in apathy, nor betraying our Lord with a kiss. Holy Week is not only a celebration of what Christ did for us, and of His resurrection, but a call to repentence, reconciliation and devotion. Have you devoted your life 100% to following our Lord?
Pray with me if you so choose,
Father I know that I have not been the person that you have designed, and want me to be. I know that I have sinned and fallen short of the perfection that you desire. Help me by renewing me, and by guiding me through your Holy Spirit to do the things that you want, and to avoid the things that abhor you. Give me strength and love, peace and joy. Gather my heart into your arms, and keep me spiritually awake. I pray that my heart will always be centered on your Word, your Truth, and your Light. Amen.