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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

8/18/10 Mark 14:32-42 Gethsemane's Sorrow

32 They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, "Sit here while I pray." 33 He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 34 "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death," he said to them. "Stay here and keep watch." 35 Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 36 "Abba, Father," he said, "everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will." 37 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. "Simon," he said to Peter, "are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? 38 Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." 39 Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. 40 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him. 41 Returning the third time, he said to them, "Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 42 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!"

(The Garden of Gethsemane- Ben below; Jean Gregory at the entrance to the Church of all nations there)

Thoughts: "Gethsemane" means "Olive press"- and doubtless Jesus was feeling the pressure- the weight of the world on his shoulders. There are times when we can sympathize with Jesus, but our troubles pale in comparison to his upcoming mocking, torture and death.  It is a pitiable cry- "Abba Father"- "Abba" is a cry like "Daddy."  In his agony, facing his betrayal and the spiritually excruciating pain of his rejection by his own people, and the physical pain of the cross, Jesus still recognized God's power (everything is possible) and still submitted to his will.  In our easy day of air conditioning, lights, easy access to information, we give up on faith and God too easily.  The disciples kept falling asleep- their spirits were willing but their flesh was weak.  In our day in which we choose comfort over God so often, I wonder if our spirits are even willing.  When we went to Israel this year, Gethsemane was one of the most moving places.  This passage reminds us why.

Prayer: God, give me the grace to have a willing spirit.  Keep my faith strong in the midst of trial and temptation.

John Calvin abridged: "stay here"- By leaving the disciples at a distance, he shows concern for their tiredness; as if a man, perceiving that he would soon be in extreme danger in battle, were to leave his wife and children in a situation of safety. Thus Christ's grief and sorrow begins in earnest.  Some commentators shrink from talking of his trembling and sadness. But if we are ashamed that Christ should experience fear and sorrow our redemption would be lost.  Ambrose justly says, "There is no instance in which I admire more his kindness and his majesty; for he shows how much he has done for me by taking my feelings upon himself.  He grieved for me, who had no cause for grief before he came to earth.  Laying aside the delights of the eternal Godhead, he experiences the affliction of my weakness.  He took upon himself not the appearance, but the reality of incarnation. It was therefore necessary that he should experience grief, that he might overcome sorrow."

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