Daily Devotion 01 April 2021

Create a peaceful space to pause, and allow yourself to feel God’s presence alongside you, as near to you as your own breath. In following the reflection below, as a church we will draw closer to God and to one another as we grow in faith and deepen our sense of belonging to God.

Luke 22: 39-46 ‘Jesus Prays on the Mount of Olives’

39 He came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples followed him. 40 When he reached the place, he said to them, ‘Pray that you may not come into the time of trial.’ 41 Then he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed, 42 ‘Father’, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.’ 43 Then an angel from heaven appeared to him and gave him strength. 44 In his anguish he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down on the ground. 45 When he got up from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping because of grief, 46 and he said to them, ‘Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not come into the time of trial.’

During Lent and especially during Holy Week we can have such mixed emotions before we reach Easter Day. Many years ago, I wrote a prayer that summed up how I felt and where I was at that stage in my life. Part of it is too personal for me to share with you, although I wrote about how difficult life can be, but that we are free to live our lives with each other and with God who offers hope and a new start, despite being let down by our actions and those of others.

The gospel writers give slightly different details of the Garden of Gethsemane, but a common theme is that Jesus feels let down by his disciples. Although Jesus knew his journey was heading to the cross, when he came to pray Matthew says he ‘threw himself to the ground’ (Matthew 26:29), Luke that he sweated like ‘drops of blood’ (Luke 22: 44) and Mark has Jesus saying ‘The sorrow in my heart is so great that it almost crushes me’ (Mark 14:34). John is the only gospel that describes what Jesus prayed – to ask God that his followers may come to know him and that all maybe protected in a hostile society. Also, as the Lion Handbook to the Bible says ‘that lives will be shaped by the truth of God’s word: that they may display such unity among themselves, that the world may be shaken out of its unbelief’. This is apparently BEFORE he goes to the garden and Judas then went to find him with the Roman soldiers, so by betraying him.

So, we are given descriptions of the humanity of Jesus, the despair that he felt. He asked the disciples to stay awake whilst he prayed and to keep watch, but tiredness from their grief because of all he had told them and learnt, overcame them. Lack of their understanding all played a part but, as when Jesus hung on the cross, Jesus was at his most vulnerable, just like we are in our daily lives. However, in the garden, as all through his life, Jesus said ‘not my will but yours, Father’. He knew what was going to happen. It was God’s calling, as it is for us.

Prayer:

Lord God, though life can be messy and lonely where the end of the road is nigh,
you come to us as our friend, offering hope, a fresh start and new life.
We can come to be at one with ourselves.
Today we can begin again or renew our lives with you. Amen.

Reflection and Prayer © 2021 Matthew Earl.
Image by Rev. Ally Barrett freely available https://reverendally.org/art/.

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