It was on the evening of the Passover feast that Jesus took the initiative to celebrate this together with the Apostles. Although not mentioned in Scripture, perhaps Mary, His mother, some other women and a few of His close friends were also with them, preparing the place and food. It would be a memorable evening because it was the last dinner with Jesus before He was condemned to death. Jesus reminded them to continue the agape in memory of Him, as He would no longer be with them. I feel the melancholic atmosphere that envelops the whole setting but I consider that surely they would have enjoyed staying the night in the presence of Jesus and being together, sharing their experiences while eating, drinking and singing too.
“When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” (Mark 14)
After the supper Jesus invited Peter, James and John to accompany Him in the garden. Jesus expressed to the Apostles His great sorrow, so great that it felt like it was crushing His heart .
“I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and keep awake.” (Mark 14:34)
He had asked them to stay awake, keep watch and pray to not fall into temptation.
This also happens to us when we experience too much pain that seems as if we cannot hold on anymore. We feel like we are in the lowest moment of our life. We seem to be in a state of no life at all. We needed someone to whom we can turn to ease the pain in our heart, just as Jesus needed His Apostles to accompany Him in His agony. However, the Apostles slept. Perhaps they were very tired coming from a busy day with the people or maybe they had drunk too much wine celebrating the Passover feast.
Jesus went further and prayed. He was able to express Himself to the Father what what in His heart. He struggled and drew Himself to the ground with so much grieving over His impending death. He checked three times if the Apostles were awake but they continued sleeping.
Here in this garden we see Him in agony. His passion started here. He almost wanted to give up but still He obeyed the Father’s will, because of His great love for us. This love expressed in His wanting to save us was a good reason for His obedience to the Father. This is how immense is His love for us – to the point of giving up everything Himself, with absolutely nothing remaining for Him. He offered all for us. He never thought of Himself. His sacrifice was entirely for us so we could be saved from our sinful acts.
It was in this garden that He began to pour out what He had felt deeply and He entrusted all to the Father. It was in this garden that He was tempted to not doing the Father’s will but He did not yield to this temptation. It was in this garden that He was in utter distress and so much sorrow as He missed His loved ones – for the time being – leaving them all: His Mother Mary, the Apostles, His friends and people.
This may happen to us too. The struggle in life is real, and we sometimes feel like giving up, that our life is so miserable and lifeless but we continue to hold on to our faith and we look at Jesus.
Whatever sufferings we may have we unite it with Jesus’ suffering for us to gain strength and inspiration to move on. The unpleasant things we experience become meaningful if we unite our sufferings with the Lord. No matter what has happened in the world with this COVID-19 pandemic, natural calamities or disasters, wars, and anything else that puts us down, or discourages us, we overcome everything when we continue to look at Jesus. He was able to overcome the heaviness of the cross, and face the brutal experience from the soldiers because He did it out of His great love for us. His love conquers everything.
Thank You, Lord Jesus. In every difficulty that we experience You give us an inspiration to be humble and ask for Your help. Every time we fail to look at the meaning of our suffering, You give us strength to surpass those difficult moments. Help us to increase our hope as we continue to fix our eyes upon You. We stumble and fall but we learn to rise up again to finish the race towards our eternal destination. It is for You and You alone that we could turn to against the world.