A Way of Finding Jesus in the Garden

The events of the last week of Jesus’ earthly life are dramatic. We have different accounts of them in each of the Gospels. Each of the four Gospel writers is trying to portray a different aspect of Jesus’ significance.

But for many people, the only time we read these important passages is all together toward the end of Holy Week. There is a lot to take in, both in terms of the story and its emotional impact.

So as we draw closer to Easter, I want to suggest some ways to read these important accounts that will open them up to reflection and insight into your life in Jesus the Christ.

This passage is about Jesus’ own spiritual practice; going out to pray at night. As you read it, try to imagine the scene. Gethsemane is at the foot of the Mount of Olives, and the word means “oil-press” How does the garden smell? What season is it? What do you hear? If you were one of the disciples, exhausted and a little confused, what would you be thinking? When you have activated your imagination, read this passage:

Matthew 26:36-46

36Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and agitated. 38Then he said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me.” 39And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.” 40Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “So, could you not stay awake with me one hour? 41Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42Again he went away for the second time and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” 43Again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44So leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words. 45Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.”

What effect did this story have on you?

How does this story connect to your life right now?

If you don’t have answers right now, that’s fine. Let the story and your experience settle and see what insights pop up in the next few days.


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