In the Dying Process
In the Gethsemane scene, both Mark and Matthew describe Jesus gradually moving away from his disciples.
When Jesus arrives, he first tells his disciples to sit here while he goes over there to pray. Then he moves away from the larger group and takes only Peter, James and John with him.
After telling these three disciples of a sorrow so deep that he could die of it (even to death.) He moves away from them and is all alone. Lying flat on the ground prostrate he begins to pray to his Father.
Some have noted that there is a striking parallel here to what often happens when a person is dying. At some point the person crosses a threshold and begins moving toward death, gradually distancing themselves from family and friends.
This can be misunderstood by those close to the dying person. They see it as rejection when, in truth, it is simply letting go (and enabling those being left behind to let go) so that death can take place.
Whether this is what Jesus is doing, no one knows.
Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, Sit here while I go over there and pray. He took along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to feel sorrow and distress. Then he said to them, My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch with me. He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not as I will, but as you will. (Mt. 26:36-39)
We come now to the Agony in the Garden.
Earlier in the Gospel, Jesus had bravely said to James and John: Can you drink from the cup that I am going to drink? He was referring to the cup as a symbol of suffering. Later, at the supper table, he took a cup and said that this was his own blood to be shed for the forgiveness of sins.
We can bring this same attitude to our own sufferings. Were not out looking for suffering. But if we have to cross the bridge of suffering to get where we need to go, or if it simply comes upon us and weve really no choice, then we need to accept it, not with bitterness, but with a willing heart. We place ourselves in the good hands of the Lord, and join with him in his Gethsemane prayer.
What is the biggest cup of suffering in my life right now? Place yourself in Gethsemane with the Lord and talk to him about it.
Spend some quiet time with the Lord.