Our Gardens of Gethsemane
“…and Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I pray’…and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,’ he said to them. ‘Stay here and keep watch.’ Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. ‘Abba, Father,’ he said, ‘everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.’ Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping.” Mark 14:32-37.
Today, we consider what this scene in the Garden of Gethsemane was like for Jesus and His best friends. We consider it from both sides of the coin. Jesus knew the fulfillment that lay before Him while the disciples only knew the things He shared with them. No doubt they had watched Him pray many times over the previous three years. No doubt they had been a part of a prayer circle just as we have many times when lifting up our friends to God. What was it like to look into the troubled eyes of their friend, teacher, and mentor? What a difference in seeing His distressed eyes where brilliant light normally shone through. Were they still watching as He walked away and fell to the ground in total despair? It seems amazing that they slept after He told them how He felt, but in all fairness they only knew bits and pieces of what was to come. Although He surrounded Himself with His closest friends, He knew that there was a point where He went to God in prayer alone. When He fell to the ground asking the cup to pass, it was the private plea between Father and Son, Creator and the Created.
We have all been on both sides of this scenario. We have been the one who overwhelmingly has called our friends and family for desperate prayers, prayers for our dying loved ones, prayers for our children who have chosen dark paths, prayers for lost jobs, prayers for abandoned spouses, all gardens of Gethsemane. We are the recipients of those intercessory prayers that our circle of loved ones lifts to heaven on our behalf. We come to the throne room covered in prayer but like Jesus, there comes a point in our suffering when it is just between us and God, Father and child, the broken hearted and the Deliverer.
At other times, we sit, watch, and pray as those we love suffer through their set of circumstances. Like the disciples, we only know bits and pieces of the journey they are walking. We spend time with our friends in their pain, hold their hands and pray with them. But at the end of the day, we go home to our settled lives and they are still in their distress. There is much taught in both of these scenarios: the importance of seeking prayer from others and the importance of praying for others. The separation is in our circumstances which changes throughout our life. Sometimes we will invite others into our garden while at other times we will be invited into the garden of others.
Wherever you are today, know that you are not alone. Most likely many are praying for you and your prayers are lifting others in their despair. In the garden, great prayers are lifted to a great God who reigns and rules, comforts and heals, rescues and delivers.
‘Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray…Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord…Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.’ James 5:13-16.