THE GARDEN OF GETHSEMANE – Day 3 Meditation Blog For Holy Week
In the Garden of Gethsemane, the sufferings of Jesus begin to show forth in His physical form. Suffering, pain, and love always go together when God is at work in people. God works behind the scenes in people to purposely remain hidden. God desires us to be hidden and resting in Jesus. He can then speak to each person individually so He can grow them through pain and suffering into the depths of His love. God look for heart-to-heart relationship.
Suffering, pain, and love go together when God is at work in people.
Suffering is necessary for each person. Those who genuinely love Jesus are guaranteed suffering. There is a greater guarantee though. Jesus is always with us through every trial. Jesus will grow us through our trials and sufferings so we can have a pure love for God taking root in our hearts. Jesus keeps us and sustains us in our sufferings. We quietly suffer through love. Our humility makes us available to hear the voice of Jesus. Jesus looks deeply into our hearts for love.
The love Jesus shows brings us to the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus is looking for comfort during His trials, but finds none. His disciples could not even stay awake and be with Him in suffering. Even though He prays, “Father, Thy will be done,” an angel comes to comfort Him. God will always be our comfort in sufferings, but can we confidently identify our sufferings with Jesus’ sufferings?
The man Jesus suffered immeasurable pain. The God Jesus saw all the sins and offenses committed against His tender heart. It was so overwhelming that it caused Him to sweat blood. This is how painful His suffering was. Yet, His resiliency and passion only grew stronger as He embraced His suffering and His cross. Jesus passionately went further into suffering for us. He saw us 2000 years ago and, with more assertiveness, went forward to die so we can have eternal life.
Jesus wants us to go through our own Gethsemane. He wants us to “symbolically” sweat our own drops of blood for the sins of the world that offend His heart. This is participating in the fellowship of His sufferings (Philippians 3:10). It becomes an intercessory prayer on our behalf to the heart of Jesus.
The Garden of Gethsemane is our solitary place of the heart. The silence draws us to Jesus and away from distractions. In Gethsemane, Jesus impresses all His sufferings on our minds and in our hearts. We will vividly see the beatings, the scourging, the crown of thorns, the insults, the spitting, the blows to His face, the punches, the mocking, the carrying of the cross, and His death. One thing that will significantly stand out in our minds is the large amounts of blood that drip and hang from His face, His robe, and His arms. His face was completely disfigured, not recognizable (Isaiah 53). The Savior of the world, God Himself as Jesus, became the most vilest and hideous of people. This is what our sins do to Jesus every day. This is what we will always remember in our Gethsemane. Jesus loves us so much, to the extent of becoming hideous and beyond recognition. Now that’s food for thought.
In the midst of deep suffering in Gethsemane, Jesus looks quietly for humble hearts to comfort Him. When He finds one, He rejoices. His sufferings will make that human heart strong in Him. That human heart will then go out to serve Jesus in love, as amplified in the Parable of The Sheep and The Goats (Matthew 25:31-46.)
When God is comforting us in our Gethsemane, there is always a part of Judas Iscariot in us nearby waiting to betray Jesus. This is what our sin nature (flesh) wants to do and Satan effectively uses it. We are intimate friends with Jesus in our sufferings one minute. The next minute we compromise with our flesh and offend the heart of Jesus. Of course, we don’t mean to. So we give Jesus a kiss on the cheek (like Judas) saying, “Lord Jesus, You know I love you. You surely understand how difficult it is to resist sin.” Hogwash!
The company of sin tries to follow us into the presence of Jesus the same way Jesus’ enemies followed Judas to Gethsemane. Sin always looks for a crack to enter. The company we keep will frequently engage in conversations that grieve the heart of Jesus. We cannot straddle the fence between God and sin. Is your soul worth 30 pieces of silver?
It usually begins with little habits of sin that grow into overwhelming ones. We think just a little bit of sin will not hurt. Yet, it only takes one little weakness, one small lapse of judgment. Death gives birth to death. Sin spins out of control. We pay the consequences of our choices every day. Those close to us suffer horrendously also. There will inevitably be a final consequence one day, either in this life, but definitely in the next – depending on your choice about Jesus. Bernard Madoff is an example of this. He started small with his ponzi schemes and wound up swindling up to 70 billion dollars. At his plea arraignment, he acknowledged he never thought it would get out of control. That’s what we all say when sin has blinded us. Yet, look at the disastrous results Madoff left behind, especially the non-profit foundations that help so many.
As we continue to see that our countless sins cause Jesus to suffer, will we choose to humbly remain “naked and ashamed” before Him? If yes, His cross actually begins to become our strength. We discover that Jesus’ cross falls comfortably on our shoulders. His cross becomes our cross. We also discover that His love balances our cross perfectly.
When we deeply offend Jesus, we turn Him over to our enemies. When our flesh dominates our lives, we clearly become Jesus’ enemies. When the soldiers bound Jesus with chains in Gethsemane, they were chains of hate. As they walked from Gethsemane to Jerusalem, they beat Jesus constantly with the chains. Imagine His pain. Fortunately, when we claim Jesus as our Lord and Savior, He binds us with chains of love.
The meek Lamb of God – bound, bloody, and beaten – went forward from Gethsemane to meet His sufferings, His cross, and His death. Fortunately, God shows us mercy. It is to be our sufferings, our cross, and our death. God has continually shown how much He loves us. Jesus took our place. The precious, dripping blood of Jesus cleanses us from all our sins.
Jesus’ close friends were no longer there for Him. He grieved over the eternal loss of Judas Iscariot. The remaining eleven fled in fear. Despite Jesus teaching them for three years, they did not yet understand that He voluntarily suffered and died for the sins of the world.
Jesus’ time had now come. There was no turning back. He passionately accepted God’s will to die. He thought of us 2000 years ago and zealously embraced His cross.
The soldiers beat Him, struck His face, mocked, and insulted Him. Every sin ever committed was in the beatings and the mocking. Yet, Jesus pressed forward as He was brought before Caiaphas, the high priest.
We also see during this time that despite abandoning Him, Peter came closer, but stayed at a safe distance. We easily do the same, keeping Jesus a safe distance away. Jesus is always urging us to trust Him at all times. This becomes more evident when the dangers of Satan surround us.