This week was also Holy Week, a term that describes the week leading up to Easter. Tonight's talk focused on the time right before the crucifixion.
We discussed Matthew 26:36-46, the passage describing Jesus praying in the garden right before he's handed over to be crucified.
36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”
43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.
45 Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”
In this passage, the disciples are falling asleep. They think it's just another night, but obviously it's not; everything is about to change. Jesus tells them repeatedly to stay awake and pray with him, but clearly, the disciples don't understand what's about to happen.
Reading this and knowing what the rest of the story is, we can often criticize the disciples. Why wouldn't they stay awake? All Jesus asked them to do was pray and be there for him, and yet they weren't. At the time, though, it most likely didn't seem important. They didn't know that Jesus was about to be betrayed. In the end, though, they leave him at the time when he needs them the most.
Jesus basically loses his community in this passage. He's shown to be fully human here: he's surrounded by his best friends, but he's still completely alone and scared. His prayer consists of asking to have the cup taken away from him, an indication that he was afraid of the next part of the story.
From these verses, we can find comfort that Jesus went through a lot of what we do. He experienced worry, fear, and the loneliness. If God remains with Jesus through everything that he went through, we can be assured that he remains with us, too. The thing that we should pay attention to is that the cross means that God has remembered us this whole time-- even in the darkness and the silence. He tells us that we don't know how our story will end, so we should wake up and pay attention because we shouldn't miss what's at hand.