They went to Gethsemane

In Lent 24 by Bruce LogueLeave a Comment

“After I am raised up, I will go ahead of you to Galilee….Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray….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.'”

Matthew 26:32-39

According to Luke, the wheels of injustice were already turning. The religious leaders gathered in the place of the High Priest, Caiphas, to conspire how they would arrest and kill Jesus. Yes, kill him! But they knew that the people who admired and followed Jesus would riot if they found out.

The plotting to kill Jesus was going on while Jesus was in the home of Simon the leper where a woman anointed him with very expensive ointment to the protest of Jesus’ disciples. Jesus told the protesters that the woman had presciently anointed him for burial.

After this, Jesus and his twelve disciples observed an early observance of the Passover meal, during which Jesus redefined the meaning of the elements of the meal. No longer a reminder of Egypt, but a reminder of the events Jesus was about to endure. That meal is still celebrated today.

Following the Passover meal, Jesus took his disciples to Gethsemane where he prayed. Prayer was Jesus’ habitual practice and is a great teacher of what a life of prayer resembles. These are some examples of times when Jesus retreated to be with God.

  • At special occasions like when he was baptized, Luke 3:18-22.
  • During demanding times like when he was in the wilderness facing Satan.
  • When he had big decisions to make like choosing the 12 apostles, Luke 6:12-16.
  • At times when he was in great need, like when he was in Gethsemane praying for deliverance from the cross, Luke 22:42.

The apostles were all witnesses to this period of Jesus life. When a woman anointed Jesus’ feet. When Jesus reinterpreted the Passover for his disciples. When Jesus was in great agony in prayer. They still acted as if all this was unreal to them. Falling asleep during Jesus’ night of prayer. And even cowardly betraying Jesus as Peter did.

However, after Jesus ascension and the events of Pentecost the disciples were manifestly changed people. Jesus had prepared them to carry on his mission, and that preparation resulted in a vibrant, committed faith among the disciples. During the last week of Jesus’ life, they witnessed the truth of what Jesus’ had been telling them and lived accordingly.

Something to think about: Jesus’ disciples lived a theoretical life pre-crucifixion. They liked the idea of the Kingdom and thought they knew what it was, until after Jesus left them. When would you say your faith was in its infancy? What has happened that brought you to confirmation of your faith?

Something to pray about: Father, the disciples left their vocations and followed Jesus unconditionally. Even so, they did not fully understand the implications of their faith, and their faith was vulnerable. Please help us to never let discouragement, doubt, or fear keep us from following you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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