On Friday night we had a reflective gathering at church contemplating the stations of the cross. We did not adhere to the traditional Catholic stations. People contributed art work, reflections, visualisations etc on parts of the story of Jesus' last hours that spoke to them in some way. My contribution was this reflection on Jesus in the garden of Gethsemene before he was arrested:
Sometimes when we reflect on the terrible journey that lead to the crucifixion, resurrection, and our subsequent redemption, we forget the humanity of Jesus. The divine Son of God and creator of the universe was overwhelmed by grief to the point of longing for death, anything to escape the horror of what lay ahead. We may subconsciously think that “surely Jesus knew that he would be all right”, or that “he could take it because he was powerful, the Son of God”. But this is not the picture we are given in the garden. This is an image of a reluctant terrified child, who knows that he must experience what is to come, but whose very being is filled both with dread and the futile hope that another way may be possible. The agony is real. Jesus is unquestionably divine, but in these moments it is his humanity that screams out to us from the pages of Matthew's narrative. For Jesus the forthcoming separation from his father was devastating beyond measure. A terror greater than death.
In Jesus time of need, his friends sleep. One of the darkest moments in the life of the son of God passes them by unobserved. The pain of Jesus is loud and clear as he laments that his closest earthly companions could not stay awake and watch with him for even an hour.
One hour for a friend. It does not seem much. Imagine yourself in the sandals of Jesus in the garden. We will most likely imagine great dispair and isolation. However, like the disciples, we may struggle to grasp the depths of Jesus torment as he waited for his ultimate destiny to unfold on the cross. For some of us not too much imagination is required, for we have also experienced dark places of the soul. But we need not face them alone, or be overwhelmed by them. Jesus shares in our suffering, and like him, we can draw strength and hope from our heavenly Father.