In the Garden: Jesus at his Most Human

The night before Jesus’ death on the cross, after The Last Supper, he goes with his disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane. It is there that we see Jesus at what I think is his most human. It is a poignant, touching and even heart-wrenching scene. While Jesus was holy, perfect and with out sin, he was not with out the ability to feel emotional and physical pain.

Mark describes this event in chapter 14 of his gospel. Jesus tells the the disciples,

“My soul is over-whelmed with sorrow to the point of death,”

and asks them to keep watch while he prays. The Mark says after that, “he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him.”

Mark records Jesus’ prayer as this,

“Abba, Father, everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

Luke expands on this in his gospel in chapter 22 verses 43-44 saying after that, “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.”

Jesus returns to the disciples only to find that they’ve been sleeping as his agonizes over what he knows will come in the morning. Two more times Jesus leaves to pray and returns to find them sleeping. The last time he returns he knows there is no other option.

“Are you still sleeping? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”

Guards who work for the Jewish Chief Priests arrive. Judas points out who Jesus is by kissing him. The guards take him way to appear before the Chief Priests. As he’s being hauled off Jesus says,

“Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come with clubs and swords to capture me? Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple and the courts, and you did not arrest me, But the scriptures must be fulfilled.”

Then Mark writes perhaps one of the saddest statements in the Bible, verse 50 of chapter 14, “Then everyone deserted him and fled.”

We can only imagine Jesus mental turmoil that night. He knew in a few hours he would be subjected to beatings so severe those alone should have killed him. Then he would be forced to carry his own heavy cross to the site of of Crucifixion. They would pound nails through his hands and feet to hang him on the cross. They would place a crown of thorns upon his head. They would mock him and ridicule him even as he was dying. They would offer him only vinegar to quench his thirst. They would pierce his side with a sword.

Jesus suffered real physical pain the day he was crucified. That night he is so beside himself with the burden he must carry that he feels the knowledge of it alone is enough to kill him. Of course he cried out to God, asking if there was any other way. In his prayer he calls God “Abba”.  Abba is a very intimate Hebrew word used between father and child, like our English word Daddy. The King of Israel, the Son of God, lies prostrate on the ground like a child crying out for his Daddy, asking him to spare him the coming pain.  Yet he understands the ultimate decision is God’s. He knows he must do as God commands and fulfill his plan. “Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

Haven’t we all been there? Facing some insurmountable situation, at our wits’ end, nowhere else to turn? Feeling that certainly this trial will be the death of us? The only thing left to do is humble ourselves and cry out to God.

God answered Jesus by sending an angel to strengthen him. But he did not take the difficult task of dying on the cross from him.

Has God ever laid a task out before you to complete or alloed you to be in a situation that was difficult? Something you would rather not do? Didn’t you bargain with him? Beg him give you another route to take?

Jesus is in such despair the Bible tells us that he sweat blood. I have felt grief, I have felt fear, but never more than what brought tears to my eyes. I can not imagine the inner struggle it must take to cause a person to sweat blood.

When Jesus sees the armed men coming for him, he knows it is time for him to fulfill God’s plan for him. He doesn’t try to flee, he doesn’t try to physically overcome his captors. He goes willingly, even speaking with a hint of humor and sarcasm in his voice.

“Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come with clubs and swords to capture me?”

To put it in today’s term, “Get real! I’ve been hangin’ around here all this time and never shown any threat of violence. Why do you think I would now? Come, on. Is all this really necessary? Let’s just get this over with!” 

In fact, before Jesus is taken off, hot-headed Peter cuts the ear off one of the men. Jesus heals him. Not the action of a hostile criminal.

Jesus is taken away and as Luke says, everyone deserted him. Have you ever been in the midst of difficult times and felt alone? Perhaps people who you thought were your friends or even family members who you believed loved you, abandoned you rather than offering their support.

God didn’t have to come to us in human form as Jesus. Jesus didn’t have to suffer and die on the cross. Surely our all-knowing, all-powerful God could have devised any number of ways to cleanse our sins and provide our salvation. Or God could have just smote us all, wiped mankind off the earth all together, and started over.

But God didn’t. He came to us as a baby with humble beginnings. He grew into a man who had no possessions or home. A man who gave his life in the most terrible kind of suffering for us that we might live eternally with him in Heaven someday.

God loves us. He loves us so much that he was willing to walk more than a few miles in our shoes. No matter the hardship you are facing there is always one you can turn to who understands. Jesus knows your physical pain. Jesus knows your emotional suffering. Jesus understands when you ask, “God, isn’t there any other way?” Jesus knows the paralyzing fears you face. Jesus has felt the sting of loneliness.

But even if everyone else has left you, Jesus will not abandon you. Jesus will be with you always. Jesus knows the strength God will give you to face tomorrow. Jesus knows the comfort God will bring to your grief. Jesus knows God will be faithful to complete his work.

You can not say, “Jesus, you just can not understand.” He does, and he wants to take you to his Daddy, your Daddy. He wants you to know his Father as intimatley as he does.

No Not One

Word Written by Johnson Oatman, Jr.

There’s not a friend like the lowly Jesus
No, not one! No, not one!
None else could heal all our souls diseases
No, not one! No, not one!

Jesus knows all about our struggles
He will guide till the day is done
There’s not a friend like the lowly Jesus
No, not one! No, not one!

No friend like Him is so high and holy
No, not one! No, not one!
And yet no friend is so meek and lowly
No, not one! No, not one!

There’s not an hour that He is not near us
No, not one! No, not one!
No night so dark but His love can cheer us
No, not one! No, not one!

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