"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.' And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, 'My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.' And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, 'My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.' And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, 'So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.' Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, 'My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.' And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again." Matthew 26:36-44Jesus' first reaction to His impending capture is to grab His closest friends and pray. In the pit of sorrow, He saw Father God as the most appropriate avenue to relieve His grief. He kept in perfect community and harmony with the Father and pleaded with Him in His distress. Jesus was grieved to the point of bleeding tears and asked thrice for the cup of suffering to be taken from Him. The culmination of his thirty-three corporeal years and His three years of public ministry were at hand. He was afflicted and distressed. And He ran to His father. Three times He asked for another way to accomplish atonement. Three times He inquired to the Father. And three times He committed to submission, yielding Himself to the Father for what should be done by saying, "Your will be done." Christ, realizing His impending trial and suffering and death, withdrew with a few friends to pray. In His anguish, as His eye vessels burst, and tears of blood traversed His blameless face, He saw the vital need to pray to the Father. He pleaded with the Him to let the cup of suffering pass by, nevertheless willingly submitted to the will of the One who sent Him. He would be betrayed. He would be crushed. He would die. He submitted to this. It is ultimately important that we see Christ in this narrative–to know what He did, what He committed to, how good, gracious, kind, just, merciful, submissive, blameless, and obedient He is. But it is also important to see ourselves in His disciples, the ones of whom we, as readers, expected much of but dismayed us the most. The ones with whom we can identify with the most. We first see Christ's closest friends, His favored disciples, called to the privilege of praying with Jesus in the Garden. And they can't stand up to the task. His three allies that He brought with Him to pray couldn't even bear to keep their eyes open. Their Christ, the long-awaited Messiah was grieved to the point of death, and they could not stay awake to pray. He was without friendships to support Him. The Father wouldn't allow for the cup to be passed from Him; Christ was the only option for the propitiation and atonement of the earth's insatiable wages of death. Their King is despondent and forlorn, and they cannot find it in themselves to stay awake and pray. In many ways, I can see myself in them. I can see myself satisfying my own appetites instead of acting in diligence and loyalty to God. Can't you? When push comes to shove and we're faced with the decision of choosing our self and our comfort or the desires of our God, who do we tend to choose to benefit?
"While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, "The one I will kiss is the man; seize him." And he came up to Jesus at once and said, "Greetings, Rabbi!" And he kissed him. Jesus said to him, "Friend, do what you came to do." Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him." Matthew 26:47-50And then there was Judas, who was willing to betray Jesus so cheaply. He was hungrier for the things of this world than He was for something all-powerful and eternal. He preferred to store up treasures on earth in lieu of Heaven. He traded His freedom in Christ for bondage to sin. He favored himself over the very Son of God. Sounds like me, too. Christ knew Judas, who had walked with Him in His public ministry, would be the one to betray Him for money. He knew this would happen, and never changed the way that He treated Judas. To the point of betrayal, He still called Judas "friend." Christ is the perfect example in this narrative, the Man whom we should all strive in likeness of, but we often fall so short. Instead of imitating Christ we look like Peter, cutting off the ear of the soldier and fighting the will of God. Or like James and John who couldn't bear to keep their eyes on watch and praying to the Father. Or like Judas we tend to favor earthly treasures above the very presence of God. During this Easter season let's examine these things, meditating on the goodness of Christ, the provision of the Father, and the seal of the Holy Spirit. Let's approach this holiday with temperance and a somber heart, knowing that we betray Jesus as much as anyone else. There's a sober and solemn posture to adopt toward the crucified Christ, knowing that our taunts mocked Him, our nails pierced Him, and our sin slayed Him. But above all, let's approach this season being constantly reminded that Christ is no longer in the grave, that we no longer fear death, and that He is at the right hand of the Father, right now. Sarah Morrison is a staff writer for The Daily Grace Co.