The Lord Be With You Today!
Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives,
and His disciples followed Him.
(On this Maundy Thursday evening
after Jesus had shared His last meal with His disciples
and had given them His last two commands,
to love each other and to eat and drink of the Passover bread and wine
in remembrance of Him, what we now call the Last Supper,
like any other day when He was in Jerusalem,
Jesus went to a favorite spot to pray.
May this Holy Week be a time when we are mindful
of the true meaning of the Last Supper,
of loving each other, of being a servant to others,
and of being in an attitude of prayer
so we are strengthened for what each day may hold for us.)
(After Jesus had celebrated the Feast of Passover,
commemorating the time when the Angel of the Lord
put to death all the first-born of Egypt,
but passed over those Israelites who had placed
the blood of a lamb they had killed over their doorposts,
after this Last Supper, as it has become known today,
Jesus continued to prepare to offer Himself
as the fulfillment of that lamb sacrifice,
and He went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray,
for He knew His time of suffering and death was near.)
Then Jesus went with His disciples
to a place called Gethsemane,
(In a garden, whose name means an olive press, just outside Jerusalem,
here Jesus Himself would undergo the press
of agony and suffering in prayer as He prepared for what lay ahead.)
and He said to them,
“Sit here while I go over there and pray.”
He took Peter, James and John along with Him,
and He began to be deeply distressed and troubled.
“My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow
to the point of death,” He said to them.
“Stay here and keep watch.”
Going a little farther, He fell to the ground
and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from Him.
“Abba, (Jesus uses an intimate loving term of endearment of a son to His father.)
Father.” He said, “everything is possible for You.
(Jesus repeatedly acknowledges God’s
sovereignty and purposes as being absolute.)
Take this cup from Me. Yet not what I will, but what You will.”
(He repeatedly prays that God’s will, not His own, be fulfilled,
a model for our own prayers that are so frequently filled with what we want.)
Then He returned to His disciples and found them sleeping.
(How often are we, tragically, spiritually asleep when we need to be in prayer.)
“Simon,” He said to Peter, “are you asleep?
Could You not keep watch for one hour?
(Peter had only a few hours earlier declared boastfully at the Last Supper
that no matter what the other disciples did he would never betray Jesus,
yet here, even though Jesus is wrestling in extraordinary prayer,
Peter lies asleep and uncaring.)
Watch and pray so that You will not fall into temptation.
The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”
(Like Peter, we, too, often give in to our human weakness and frailties,
rather than being attuned to the Lord’s design and purposes,
rather than devoting ourselves to the Presence of the Lord.)
Then He went away a second time and prayed,
“My Father, if it is not possible for this cup
to be taken away unless I drink it, may Your will be done.”
(Again, Jesus asks for God’s will to be done
even though He knows what suffering will be required of Him,
not only the rejection of men and the torture and agony of a crucifixion,
not only carrying the weight of every sin ever committed by humankind,
but anticipating the horror of being separated even for a time from His Father,
a situation that had never happened since before time,
when Jesus becomes sin for us.)
When He came back, He again found them sleeping,
because their eyes were heavy.
He said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.”
He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed,
“Father, if You are willing, take this cup from Me;
yet not My will, but Yours be done.”
An angel from heaven appeared to Him and strengthened Him.
And being in anguish, He prayed more earnestly
and His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.
(As He prayed with deep earnestness of soul,
Jesus anticipated the brutality and anguish ahead of Him,
that of Him Who knew no sin taking on the evil and sins of the world.)
When He rose from prayer and went back to the disciples,
He found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow.
“Why are you sleeping?” He asked them. “Get up and pray
so that you will not fall into temptation.”
While He was still speaking a crowd came up . . . .
(Jesus had told them He would be betrayed by one of them,
that He would be leaving them, that He would be suffering a soon death,
and that they would see for themselves
their friend and teacher in great distress.
As they finally heard and processed
all that the Lord had been revealing to them,
their sorrow incapacitated them to such an extent
they were unable to focus on the real issue at hand,
which was to arm themselves spiritually through prayer.
How like us, to focus on the terror of the situation
rather than seeking the Lord for His empowerment to endure and overcome.)
May the Lord richly bless you this day!
In Christ’s love,
513 254 3874