Suffering, resurrection and Christian love – day 1
Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane (part 1)
In the run-up to Good Friday, we will be looking back to the poignant scene that played out in the garden of Gethsemane.
The night before Jesus was arrested, he and his disciples went into the garden of Gethsemane. Across the Kidron Valley, there was an olive grove with an olive press. The word “Gethsemane” itself means olive press. It is likely the owner had given Jesus permission to use the olive grove because we read in the verse below that “Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives”. John 18:2 also mentions that Jesus met there often with his disciples. Jesus knew what would happen there. He was a young man of 33 and afraid of what awaited him. It is here, in the garden of Gethsemane, where he goes through a final spiritual struggle with God to understand his will. There are few historical events that affect Christians the way the garden of Gethsemane does.
I find it so striking that the first thing Jesus did in the garden of Gethsemane was to pray. It is in moments like these that you think about the most important person in your life. For Jesus, it was God. When he was terrified, his first thought was to pray to God. Jesus, being completely man, had the need to pray. He wanted to talk to his Father, pour out his heart to him. He wanted to tell his Father that he was afraid. In that moment of anguish, he wanted to call on God.
The thought of his disciples’ weakness must have made the burden of that night even heavier for Jesus to bear. He would have known that the anger of the Sanhedrin would affect not only him, but his disciples too. That is why, in the hour of his own need, Jesus thinks about his disciples’ spiritual strength and he asks them to pray for their own spiritual lives. The example of Jesus’ own prayer and his invitation to his disciples to pray for themselves is also an invitation for us today: we must never hesitate to call on God. It must be the first thing we do every day, it must be the first thing we do when we are afraid and the first thing we do when we are excited.