Today’s reading is from Matthew 26:36-46.
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.” And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” And again, he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”
This reading is where our Church family’s name comes from, the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus prayed with His disciples before his arrest and betrayal by Judas. It brought to mind during the passion and crucifixion of Jesus how so many people that were close to Him and around Him simply left Him. Starting with His disciples in the Upper Room, fighting over who was the most devoted, and then Judas stealing out to betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. Then in the Garden of Gethsemane, when Jesus’ disciples couldn’t keep their eyes open because they drank and ate so much during the Passover and neglected Jesus during His time of need. Then the arrest, the betraying kiss from Judas, the disciples running away, and Peter swearing that he never knew Jesus. Then crowds in Jerusalem, many of who followed Jesus after He raised Lazarus from the dead, abandoned Him and cried out “Crucify Him!” Then the flogging and abuse, Jesus all alone, to finally the crucifixion, where a stranger was forced to carry His cross. There below the cross only His mother, Mary Magdalene, and John remained.
You can imagine how all of those people felt that abandoned Jesus. Some were scared and frightened, some of them were stubborn and even prideful, all of them were looking inward and forgetting to look outward to the needs of someone else.
But that didn’t stop Jesus. Jesus went through all of the suffering and hurt, the crucifixion and the abandonment, so that he could save and redeem the people who left Him. All this happened, Jesus abandoned by so many, while Jesus was doing the one thing that would guarantee that they and we would never be abandoned by Jesus, no matter what we went through. Even though many left Jesus, Jesus never left anyone behind.
Even though many left Jesus, Jesus never left anyone behind.
The story of the crucifixion is also our story. It is our story of sin and brokenness, when we too have left Jesus. We’ve done this because of our sin, because of our pride, because of our anger or our selfishness. We’ve strayed from the one person who never leaves us in our thoughts, words, and deeds.
But the same good message is true for us as it was for the disciples so long ago. Even though we are faithless, Jesus is faithful. Even though our hearts stray and our prayers falter, Jesus never leaves us our forsakes us. Even when we forget about all that has been done for us on the cross, we are never forgotten by the one who hung that cross for our sakes. Jesus never abandons us.
Let the faithfulness of Jesus bring us to a place of repentance and commitment once again. We come to Jesus, convicted and in need of forgiveness. Jesus is faithful and just and forgives our sins and cleanses us from all unrighteousness (I John 1:9). Jesus then reminds us of his promise, that no matter what happens in our lives, He is with us always, even to the end of time (Matthew 28:20), and we are with Him forever.
In receiving the forgiveness and promises of Jesus, let us renew our hearts and strengthen our commitment to our Savior Jesus. During this Holy Week, let us be like faithful Mary at the foot of the cross witnessing all that is being done for us so that, when Easter morning comes, we can fully know how great a victory His resurrection is. Forbid it to happen that we end up like the crowds that cried out, “Crucify Him” or the disciples who ran away from Him. Instead, open our hearts and our minds to the love of Jesus and let that love fill us once again with the Miracle of Easter.
let us be like faithful Mary at the foot of the cross
Let that same love flow from us to each other. Let our hearts be warmed and let walls come down. Turn off our own selfish pride and chase away the fear that puts barriers between us. Instead let the unconditional love of Jesus live through us for each other.
I pray that even though we won’t be able to see other for the next few days of Holy Week, that you will continue in your personal and family devotions and prayers. Walking faithfully with Jesus through His passion to the resurrection on Easter.