On Maundy Thursday, as they ate the Passover meal, Jesus confronted the disciples with the harsh reality that one of the disciples would betray him. Jesus was not surprised or stunned that one of his twelve companions, Judas, would turn against him. Jesus seemed to be reading off a script, part of an unfolding story. It seemed as if Jesus had no choice, no freedom, all the options are closing in upon him.
As if to seal his intention, he picked up the cup and said to his disciple, “This cup is that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:20). He was ready to go to the cross, to pour out his blood, to be the lamb of God.
Jesus and the disciples then went off to the garden of Gethsemane to pray. As they walked towards the garden, Jesus told them that they would all desert him that night. Peter said, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”
Jesus responded to Peter with the fateful warning, “Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times” (Luke 22:34).
Again it seems as if everything is fixed. The relentless march, a constant drum beat, continued towards Jesus’ suffering and death.
He asked the disciples to stay awake and pray, because he was deeply grieved, even unto death. Jesus went a little farther and threw himself on the ground. “Abba, Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet not my will but yours be done” (Luke 22:42).
Here for a moment the relentless drum beats stops. Jesus is not some mere actor, reciting the lines of a play.
He is a flesh-and-blood human being who sees the horrendous suffering he is about to undergo. He is not some robot who is oblivious to human pain and suffering. No, he is a human being who relishes life, the joys and blessings of life.
Jesus does not want to die. Here he is like you and me. Here his humanity is on full display.
Jesus now comes back to the disciples to discover they are all asleep. Are they worth Jesus’ effort? Can’t they stay awake an hour with him? Are they worth the pain and suffering?
Jesus goes to the cross NOT to die for the worthy, for the great, for the valued disciples.
He dies for the weak and vulnerable.
He goes to the cross precisely because we are too weak, too sleepy, too self-absorbed, too sinful to go ourselves. He pours out his life because we are weak and sinful and need to be rescued.
His love for the disciples, for you and me, overcomes any fear or temptation he faced.
Jesus, thank you for drinking the cup for us.