Friends, I’d like to begin our thought for the week with a Bible reading from the gospel according to Mark chapter 14 and from verse 32. There we read:
They went to Gethsemane and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be distressed and agitated.
And he said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and keep awake.”
And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him.
He said, “Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.” Amen.Mark 14:32
You may think I’m jumping the gun a bit, using this passage of scripture as my subject because Easter is coming. Of course, I am well aware of this. They say, “strike while the iron is hot,” and I think this passage speaks right into what we are all facing today.
Of all the gospel accounts of Jesus in a garden, I’ve always found the Marcan account the most moving and meaningful because it portrays something of Jesus that we don’t often see- a vulnerability, a humanness, the capacity to feel what all of us are able to feel.
Now some might find what Jesus experienced disconcerting. After all, it was Jesus, but rather than finding it disconcerting or understanding it as weakness, a chink in Jesus’ armour, I find it has the opposite effect on me. It draws me closer to Jesus, it helps me relate to him better, it moves my heart and mind and soul, knowing, with hindsight, what he was about to endure.
I would rather follow a Jesus who understood in every way what it’s like to be human than a Jesus who was some kind of super man, who, in no way, shape or form could feel pain or distress or anxiety.
I know there are some, perhaps many, who might disagree with me, who feel they need a super man in this often chaotic and unpredictable world, one who can go ahead of them and flatten every foe. But Jesus didn’t do that. Jesus did something else. Distressed, agitated, and deeply grieved, nonetheless, he put his life and his trust in the hands of his Father- “not my will but yours be done.”
Jesus, then, shows us his way, and it’s not about power or control or overthrowing people and things by force, it is all about trust, about believing in God’s presence and believing in God’s love, that God’s purposes will always be used for good and not for ill.
Jesus didn’t ask to endure what he was about to go through. I don’t think he wanted to be in that garden nor did he particularly relish the idea of suffering and dying, but he put his trust in God, that God would vindicate him; that, in the words of theologian, Marcus Borg, “where the Roman authorities said, “No!” to Jesus, God would say,“Yes!”
Now, none of us have asked for covid 19 to wreak havoc across the world or perhaps endanger our lives but through it all we have one we can put our trust in, we have one who is with us every step of the way, who understands our distress, anxiety, and agitation, if these are the things we are feeling, and He is God Almighty, and He will never let us go.
Loving God, in these uncertain times help us to put our trust in you, knowing, like Jesus, that you will never leave us; that no matter what happens in this world, nothing can ever separate us from your love. Amen.