Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, 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.
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.”
Years ago, when Jesus went to the desert to fast, the devil followed Him there. The devil tempted Him there, showing Him all the nations of the Earth, but Jesus did not turn away from the Father’s will, and the devil left Him for a time.
That night, in Gethsemane, the devil came back.
Once again the devil showed Him all the nations of the Earth. He showed Him every evil thing that those nations would do, in spite of Christ’s example and His terrible death. He showed Him genocide, he showed Him rape, he showed Him conquest. The devil showed Him famines that were not famines but mass starvation caused by the powerful hoarding all the edible food. He showed Him fallout, mustard gas, poisoned drinking water and scorched earth. The devil showed Him the Transatlantic Slave Trade and the Shoah. He showed Him the Trail of Tears. He showed Him Pearl Harbor, Nagasaki, Hiroshima, the rape of Nanking, the fire bombing of Dresden, Apartheid, Jim Crow. He showed Him school shootings and terrorist bombings. He showed Him 9/11, 7/7, and every other blood-drenched day.
Christ saw millions of children who were not wanted– ripped apart, or born live only to be smothered or thrown out to die. He saw women and men, girls and boys trafficked for sex. He saw heroin, fentanyl, meth. He saw sweat shops. He saw factories making trifles to please the wealthy, staffed by slaves and poisoning the earth and air. He saw child abuse, domestic violence; he saw generations suffering in abject poverty for no other reason than because no one would help.
Christ witnessed every time anyone would hurt another in His name– any act of violence or cruelty committed in the name of His Church, or in the name of spreading His Gospel. He saw people driven away from the Church by the cruelty of those who claimed to speak for the Church. He saw Christians burning each other alive. He saw priests committing rape and everyone who refused to speak out against the rape, for fear of disrespecting Christ in the person of the priest.
He saw everything.
Everything that ever was done or attempted, that was evil.
And being in anguish, He prayed more earnestly, and His sweat was like drops of blood on the ground.
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”
An angel came from Heaven to strengthen Him.
What did the angel bring to strengthen Him?
What could possibly strengthen Him, after all that he had seen?
The angel brought us. You and me. Everyone who loves Christ.
The angel brought us to the garden. You’ve been there many times, and so have I.
Every time you have done or attempted good– Christ saw you in the garden. Every time you turned your heart to Him, He saw you. He saw your good works and good intentions. He saw everyone’s. He saw every time a human person turned from doing evil and tried to do good. He saw the ones who fought for justice, the ones who comforted the suffering. He saw the people who tried to provide for one another during famines. He saw those who took in unwanted children and protected them. He saw the martyrs who laid down their lives for their friends and for strangers.
He saw you.
He sees you now.
He sees all that you are suffering, how exhausted you are, and how you keep struggling, getting up every time that you fall.
His Heart is filled with love for you. You are worth every moment of His passion; you are even worth His terrible death and descent into hell. If it were possible, He would suffer even more, because He loves you. Because He wants to accompany you in your passion, your struggle, your falls, your agony, your death. He wants all of those things to be godly things, Heavenly things, so He takes them to Himself.
He sees you.
There is no time with God.
In Gethsemane, thousands of years ago, He sees you, now.
If you’ve ever wished you could have been with Him in Gethsemane– you are in Gethsemane, now.
Go to Him. Run to Him. Help Him off the ground. Wipe the bloody sweat from His eyes. Kiss Him with pure love before Judas kisses Him in betrayal. Tell Him everything you’ve wanted to say. Pray that you will not fall into temptation and pray for mercy for every time you’ve already given into temptation. You can do this. You are already there. Spend your hour with Him now.
Christ saw everything.
And seeing that Love was so much greater than all the hate and cruelty this dreadful world will ever produce, He accepted the chalice. He united your passion to Himself, that every evil you do will be forgiven if you ask; that every evil done to you will be transformed into grace; that every good you do will be the victory of a child of God instead of the servitude of a slave.
And then He got up from the ground, and went to meet the soldiers.
Whom are you looking for?
Jesus the Nazorean.
(image via Wikimedia Commons)