Wandering about Gethsemane today put “agony” into a whole new perspective for me.
The Gospel accounts are vivid enough to make the point that Jesus suffered here: mental anguish… frustration…abandonment.
But the scripture passages don’t really give you the lay of the land. From the evangelists’ telling, for example, you don’t really see why Jesus chose THIS spot to pray….
…but no doubt it’s because Gethsemane is just across the valley from the Temple Mount. So Jesus and his disciples could have felt very much connected to the Passover rituals taking place there, without getting caught up in the massive festival crowds “inside the walls.”
From a vantage point in Gethsemane, they would have heard the singing, seen the smoke, smelled the incense from the Temple district. Jesus would have felt a strong spiritual connection to his Father’s house across the way.
The Garden is certainly lovely. But another point the gospels don’t make plain is that it’s a work area — site of an olive press. So while Jesus could have found some privacy here, he probably didn’t have the whole place to himself.
We certainly didn’t. Outside the walled enclosure where we prayed today, the world whirled at a vigorous pace: horns blaring, vendors hawking, traffic moving all around.
Despite the cacophony, the garden provided a refuge. Still, I couldn’t help but think how it would’ve added to the agony… to realize how little the rest of the world seemed to care about Jesus’ plight.
Ten…fifteen…maybe 20 minutes it would have taken — for them to descend down into the valley…and then clamber up the other side to the Garden.
So it makes you wonder: Why didn’t Jesus run?
He’d have had a head start…he could easily have made it up the hill, and hightailed it out of town.
Sitting…watching…in Gethsemane this morning, I realize: It must truly have been agony, waiting for all these events to unfold.
I have long loved the Chris Tomlin tune, “Mighty Is The Power of the Cross.” Highly recommended listening (which you can check out here):
Today, on Gethsemane, I felt one line of the song really sink in for the very first time:
“…where the Lamb lay down his life…to lift us from the fall…”
For Jesus — the Courageous One — the slow-motion slaughter began, with agony, in the Garden.
In that moment, to most everyone around, it seemed largely an inconsequential event.
The world barely bothered to take note.
Let us remember that we are in the presence of the Holy and Merciful One.