(Matthew 26.36-46; Mark 14.32-42)
39Jesus went out to the Mount of Olives, as he often did, and his disciples went with him. 40When they got there, he told them, “Pray that you won't be tested.”
41Jesus walked on a little way before he knelt down and prayed, 42“Father, if you will, please don't make me suffer by drinking from this cup. But do what you want, and not what I want.”
43Then an angel from heaven came to help him. 44Jesus was in great pain and prayed so sincerely that his sweat fell to the ground like drops of blood.
45Jesus got up from praying and went over to his disciples. They were asleep and worn out from being so sad. 46He said to them, “Why are you asleep? Wake up and pray that you won't be tested.”
Jesus Is Arrested
(Matthew 26.47-56; Mark 14.43-50; John 18.3-11)
47While Jesus was still speaking, a crowd came up. It was led by Judas, one of the twelve apostles. He went over to Jesus and greeted him with a kiss.
48Jesus asked Judas, “Are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”
49When Jesus' disciples saw what was about to happen, they asked, “Lord, should we attack them with a sword?” 50One of the disciples even struck at the high priest's servant with his sword and cut off the servant's right ear.
51“Enough of that!” Jesus said. Then he touched the servant's ear and healed it.
52Jesus spoke to the chief priests, the temple police, and the leaders who had come to arrest him. He said, “Why do you come out with swords and clubs and treat me like a criminal? 53 I was with you every day in the temple, and you didn't arrest me. But this is your time, and darkness is in control.”
“Father, if you will, please don’t make me suffer…” This is Christ, fully aware of the importance of what he is about to accomplish but also fully aware of the suffering about to be imposed. His words underscore the depth and intensity of this hour of darkness. Scourging, denial, mockery and hours of excruciating pain and torture. Verse 44 gives us a glimpse of the magnitude of this horror when it tells us “his sweat fell to the ground like drops of blood.”
But Jesus “got up from praying”, thankfully for all mankind, with a determination to complete the task.
After some brief bravado from the disciples, and a rebuke, Christ turns to those who came looking for him.
He confronts them with the darkness that they are bent on participating in. They could have arrested him in the temple but had to slink around in the night in a rather remote place, hiring someone to betray him, even using weapons. He forces them to face up to this treatment of him as a criminal.
Then, matter-of-factly he acknowledges, “This is your time and darkness is in control”.
Looking back on this story we solemnly work through the events leading up to these words. However, knowing that these words only refer to a brief period of time we begin to feel an excitement in the realization there is an unsaid BUT following.
When I read this I hear the echo of Tony Campolo shouting in his famous audio sermon, “It’s Friday….But Sunday’s a Coming!”
I doubt that even the graphic depiction of these hours and subsequent crucifixion scenes in the 2004 movie “The Passion of the Christ” provide the measure of darkness of the scene in the garden.
But I also know that Hollywood could never begin to depict the power and glory of the Resurrection!
Father, in my darkest hours I acknowledge the greater suffering you endured and rely on your grace. Give me a glimpse of the glory of your resurrection that I might take comfort and be built in my faith and reliance on you.