Saturday, March 6, 2010

Lent Reflections: the Garden of Gethsemene

I think I am going to come away from this study with many many more questions than answers. I can remember learning this part of the story growing up, but obviously, not in the detail this study is going into. I know we learned that Jesus asked for the cup to be taken from him, but I don't remember going into the struggle and anguish he was going through.

This part of the story is fairly short; the disciples do not get into the details of the prayer -- probably because they all fell asleep. And really, can you blame them? It had been a very busy week, they had just completed a large meal and then walked 20-25 minutes just to get to the garden where Jesus decided he wanted to pray. It was probably around midnight and they had probably been up since early that morning, and spent the day preparing for the feast. Jesus admonishes them 3 times, and yet I wonder what he had asked of them. The Bible only tells us that he asked them to pray they would not fall into temptation. Did he ask anything else of them? Did he even hint at what was going to happen later that night? We know he also told them they would all turn away from him, as we all do. This is probably another reason this part is short: the disciples do not come out looking well.

These short passages also show the very human side of Jesus. He asked, begged, God to take this away, to find another way. It was God's plan -- why couldn't He change it? Why did it have to happen this way? As a parent, I cannot even fathom coming up with such a plan that would require my only child to be sacrificed in this way.

Adam Hamilton describes this as a time of temptation for Jesus. This seems very logical. Of course, Satan would have Jesus' ear whispering questions, questions that he whispers to me all the time: are you sure this is His plan? Just cut and run or fight, you don't have to just walk into this. Just think about what could happen if you don't do this. It just makes sense that if Jesus was truly human that this would be his biggest temptation. Which makes me wonder why Christians were all up in arms over The Last Tempation of Christ. I understand there was more to it than just controversy over Christ being tempted, but I also understand that many do not want to see the human side of Christ. Isn't it much more wonderful for us that God truly came to Earth as human? That he knows the temptations we go through daily? That He truly understands us?

As part of our study, Brian brought out some of the traditional portraits of Christ in Gesthsemene: the serene Jesus praying at the stone, looking up to Heaven, light shining on him or a halo around him. The Jesus of Tradition that went willingly, with no question, to His destiny that God had written out for him. Later in the small group time, Brian shared with us a Gauguin painting of Gethsemene. In further reading, I discovered that Gauguin used his own face in the painting. How fitting. And isn't that rather the point? That Jesus, in his anguish at Gethsememe became "everyman". He knows us. He knows what it is to be human.

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