Summer sabbath time presents a great opportunity to consider our relationship with Jesus, and the demands which come from it.
Sounds rather daunting, does it not?
This morning, I read these words from Matthew 26.8-39,
‘Then Jesus said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me.”
And 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.”’
[I am sure there are more than one Thursday Reflection in these words.]
The first time these words echoed into my consciousness, I was 16 years old, attending the Passion Play in South Dakota with our Church Youth Group.
These words, for reasons I was not aware of then, appeared to be directed straight at me.
Over the years, I have often reflected on that moment. Over time, those words have taken on different meanings, leading to many interpretations.
Today, I want to consider the place Jesus has found himself in.
I am sure we could not imagine it for ourselves. Just thinking about it evokes a sense of fear.
Imagine your life in Jesus’ shoes.
He has been born of a woman, by the Spirt of God: both human and divine. The purpose for which God sent him into the world has become very clear, in his mind.
I am sure not one of us could imagine giving up our life so others could have life.
This is what Jesus is required to do.
Is it any wonder, then, that we would encounter Jesus at this moment in his life?
Any wonder, we should find Jesus filled with such anguish.
(This scene is often described as Jesus’ agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, or the Garden of Olives.)
Jesus knew what was to come.
He knew he was about to be presented to the world, on a cross.
Could there be any greater humiliation?
Jesus’ need, at that moment, was two-fold:
1.) to find the strength
to present himself to the authorities of the day, for what was about to take place;
2.) to discover God’s will.
Now it is 1979.
I have completed high school. A major decision lay before me. Would I move forward with an Arts program, in preparation for seminary?
Looking back, I know I was not in the Garden of Gethsemane. I am sure I had not prayed the words of the Jesus’ Prayer. At the same time, what I do know: I was not prepared to make the “Jesus” commitment at that time.
Move ahead. It is July, in the year of our Lord, 2022.
What do these words of Jesus mean for each one of us today?
In life we experience many challenges. Some may envision these moments as times of trial, distress, agony, worry, anxiety. The list is endless.
It is in these moments, we find strength in the Jesus Prayer.
Each one of us faces moments in life when we are in search of direction, or affirmation, for the decisions we are about to make.
It is in these moments that we need to hear the words of Jesus,
“Let us get up and meet the challenge of the day.”
We have inherited the Cup of Jesus.