Tag Archives: Gethsemane

The Cup of Choice

This is the Kidron Valley looking to the North. To the left is the Temple Mount. To the right is the Mount of Olives.

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.

The END Came and Went

Yesterday I wrote on the END OF THE WORLD as expressed in Mark 13. In the chapter Jesus taught his disciples regarding the signs of a new world being birthed. Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away but my words will not pass away” (Mark 13:30).

Like most apocalyptic literature, Mark 13 is written in highly descriptive language that evokes strong emotions, but is often difficult to interpret precisely. The chapter is more like a beautiful mosaic of pictures than a precise timeline of events. Parts of the chapter seem to refer to the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple by the Roman legions in 70 AD (v 2, 4-11, 14-23). Other sections may refer to the persecutions the church faced in its early years. Readers can be challenged to see how it applies to our current life.

Praying at Gethsemane by Artist He Qi

Yet the reader is given a key verse in v. 35. “Therefore, keep awake–for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly.”

The four hours of the watch (evening, midnight, cockcrow and dawn) are significant because they become the outline of Mark’s next two chapters: the story of Jesus’ betrayal, prayer,  arrest and trial.

When it was evening, he came with the twelve. And when they had taken their places and were eating, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me” (Mark 14:17).

Jesus said to Peter, “Truly I tell you, this day, this very night, before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times” (Mark 14:30).

At that moment the cock crowed for the second time. Then Peter remembered that Jesus had said to him, “Before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept (Mark 14:72).

As soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate (Mark 15:1).

The disciples were unable to stay awake in the garden when Jesus prayed (Mark 14:41). They all scattered. Still Jesus remained faithful.  His words from Mark 13 came true. Jesus’ passion became the birth pangs of a new creation. The world as we knew it ended with Jesus’ crucifixion and a new world dawned with his resurrection.

Paul captures this new age in 2 Corinthians 5:17 “If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” The end of the world is not simple some future event for which we wait. The “end” started with Jesus’ death and the “new” has begun with his resurrection. We live in a new age with Jesus!

Lord Jesus, let my life end and begin again with you.