Matthew 26:36-46 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Jesus Prays in Gethsemane
36 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.” 37 He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and agitated. 38 Then he said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me.” 39 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.” 40 Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “So, could you not stay awake with me one hour? 41 Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 Again he went away for the second time and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” 43 Again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44 So leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words. 45 Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.”
Taking One for the Team
In many Jesus lived so ordinarily that we even Christians forget that he was always a supernatural celestial being. Although human Jesus was there where the worlds were created and humanity was brought to life. As John states in his Gospel, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.”
Jesus, the one who participated in our creation, took on a human body and died a brutal human death so the very things he created could live a better existence. Jesus, our Lord and Savior, made himself our equal and literally took one for the team. This past Sunday, Christians everywhere celebrated Palm Sunday by commemorating Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. Indeed, it was a wonderful occasion. However, our scripture this week tells us that it was linked to a somber reality of pain. In fact, it was a pain so great that Jesus asked God three times to let someone or something else suffer the required debt for our redemption. Nevertheless, Jesus accepted suffering to alleviate our misfortune; it was a remarkable act of compassion. Thus, the Christian church was formed, founded, and built upon compassion.
Understanding what Jesus went through for me has generated some hard questions based on the notion of what would I do for the team of Jesus? What insults would I put up with? What slights and disadvantages would I tolerate for cause of Christ? Who would I be willing to forgive? How long could I be imprisoned so that someone else might accept Jesus as their savior? I’ll confess that I don’t like thinking about such things, let alone try to do them. Yet, if I am to have compassion like Christ, I might have to one day suffer greatly so that someone else might be saved.
As we remember the passion of Jesus and commemorate what he did for us, may we also think about we can do for the cause of Christ.