Summary: Seeking Gods will in our life takes moments of great surrender just as Jesus demonstrates for us in the garden. Our Heavenly Father works out the events of our life in a mysterious way we can not comprehend it all.
The Garden of Gethsemane
One of the most famous paintings in the world is that of Heinrich Hofman and his work entitled Christ in Gethsemane 1890. Most of you know it well, it depicts Jesus kneeling and resting on a rock as he prays looking up. The colors of the painting are dark Jesus is dressed in scarlet and purple and there is a small halo cast above Jesus head as a ray of moonlight breaks through the heavy clouds and shines down on the praying Jesus.
In contract to this portrait of Jesus we have the great work of Leonardo da Vinci of the Last Supper 1490. In it we recall the table where so much emotion is reflected in the faces of the disciples and Jesus. These paintings were made some 500 years apart yet the events that inspired these works took place just minutes apart.
Through scripture we are allowed to see the love of God expressed in the life of Christ. If you have ever wondered if God loves you then all you need do is read these passages and it will become evident for you.
Jesus first brings together his inner circle of 12 men to celebrate a Jewish holy day known as Passover.
From Wikipedia: Passover begins on the 15th day of the month of Nisan (equivalent to March and April in Gregorian calendar), the full moon of that month, the first month of the Hebrew calendar’s festival year according to the Hebrew Bible.
This year it falls at sunset of April 8 to nightfall of 15 April / 16 April for 2009. Easter falls on the 12 of April 2009.
Passover is a ceremony that recalls how God freed the Israelite s from Egypt by sending the Angel of Death across the land of Egypt. Homes that had there lintels and door frames covered with the blood of a lamb were spared and the Angel of Death passed over them but not so for the Egyptians.
This Jewish holy day became tied to our Christian holy season of Easter when Jesus proclaimed the New Covenant. Prior to this all Jews lived under the Old Covenant of Abraham which involved keeping various laws and festivals.
Easter is a movable feast, meaning it is not fixed in relation to the civil calendar. Easter falls at some point between late March and late April each year (early April to early May in Eastern Christianity), following the cycle of the Moon. After several centuries of disagreement, all churches now accept the computation.
Jesus brings Jews and Gentiles together through the Passover Supper and opens a door of Exodus for everyone who would be free from sin and death through his body and blood.
The walk from the Passover Supper to the Garden of Gethsemane must have seemed a regular event to the disciples but for Jesus it meant his mission on earth was coming to a close as Saviour.
Jesus often went to this garden to pray so the disciples did not think it a special occasion. Gethsemane means oil press in Aramaic. We learned last week that oil was used to anoint Gods prophets of Old and that Jesus was the Christ - the anointed one. Now God would extract that anointed oil from Jesus as he prayed in the garden.
Matthew tells us that Jesus was sorrowful and troubled. He records that Jesus said My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death Matt 26:38.
Then Jesus asks his disciples to stay just a stone throw away from him as he prays privately. Jesus asks them to keep watch with him. Matt 26:38
Have you had times in your life that you were overwhelmed with sorrow? I’m sure that many of you have. In those times you need to know that Jesus has been with you every step of the way.
The outcome may not have been what you had hoped for or prayed for yet God has indeed been with you never the less.
Just as we see Jesus call his close personal friends nearer during his time of trial so we too often call our dear ones close to us. We like Jesus seek their help in prayer and seek their love and compassion for what we might be facing.
In today’s scripture we see that all the disciples let Jesus down in his time of need. In fact they all let him down on three occasions until finally Jesus was betrayed by Judas.
We often and readily recall Peter and his denial of Christ before the rooster crowed three times. But did you realize that every one of the disciples was just as guilty of letting Jesus down in that garden?
Jesus went back to them three times to wake them and ask them to pray with him. Each time they fell asleep. The spirit is willing but the body is weak. Matt 26:41