Of all the events of the passion of Jesus, I think of the agony in the garden as being the most difficult. Of course there is the physical agony of the scourging, the humiliation of the crown of thorns, the near impossibility of dragging the cross beam through the streets of Jerusalem, and, of course, the horror of the crucifixion.
But what's different to me about Gethsemane is that Jesus still has a choice. I remember the first time a wiser soul prompted me to think about it -- that Jesus didn't have to remain in the garden waiting for the soldiers and then submit to his arrest. He could have run, lived to fight another day. He could have stood in opposition, his disciples an army with swords at the ready. He had choices.
That's what I think makes Gethsemane so difficult. I think that is why Jesus sweat blood. He had to stand in the conviction of his own will, believing that he knew and could assent to the will of the Father in this final hour.
After Jesus' prayer in the garden, once the soldiers arrive with their clubs and swords, the choice becomes irrevocable. Yes, Jesus could "summon twelve legions of angels" (Matthew 26:53), but we know that he's made his choice, and it is to submit "like a lamb led to the slaughter" (Isaiah 53:7). He is now at the mercy of the powers of this world, the High Priests and the Pilates and the Herods, because of his Yes in the garden.
What does it take for Jesus to say that final, Yes, to the cup that he is called to drink? It is night. He is alone, with not one friend who can watch and pray for even an hour, even this hour.
What does it take for me to say, Yes, to the cup that I am called to drink? For you to say, Yes, to the cup that you are called to drink, the crosses that we must carry? We face the night too, on our knees, in desperation, sweating blood.
But we are not alone. There is One who watches and prays with us in our hour. He suffers with us, bleeds with us, carries the cross with us, dies with us. With me.
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