Sit here while I go over there and pray….The sorrow in my heart is so great that it almost crushes me. Stay here and keep watch with me.
After the Passover meal was completed, Jesus and his disciples went off into the night to a place called Gethsemane, described as a garden in the Book of John. Wikipedia says that perhaps it was an olive grove. Then he took Peter, James, and John with him off to the side, just like he did at the time of the Transfiguration. (See Day 151). Here is what happened on that other day:
Six days later Jesus took with him Peter and the brothers James and John and led them up a high mountain where they were alone. As they looked on, a change came over Jesus: his face was shining like the sun, and his clothes were dazzling white. Then the three disciples saw Moses and Elijah talking with Jesus. So Peter spoke up and said to Jesus, “Lord, how good it is that we are here! If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
While he was talking, a shining cloud came over them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my own dear Son, with whom I am pleased—listen to him!” When the disciples heard the voice, they were so terrified that they threw themselves face downward on the ground. Jesus came to them and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid!” So they looked up and saw no one there but Jesus. (Matthew 17:1-7).
Yes, this was an amazing experience. Moses and Elijah came and talked to him. A shining cloud appeared and he was affirmed by a voice from heaven. And now, on this last evening of his life, Jesus was experiencing crushing sorrow. I’m sure this sorrow was not just for himself, but for all of humanity, its frailty, and its folly? Was Jesus hoping to recreate the Transfiguration experience? Was he looking for more advice from the Jewish heroes? Was he craving another word of affirmation from God?
And so, in this time of deep, crushing, overwhelming sorrow he gathers together those same disciples who were with him on that glorious day of the Transfiguration – Peter, James, and John – and he does the only thing that any of us can do when we are in the depths of despair. He prays. And he waits. In the company of his friends who love him.
What does this scripture say to you?