His triumphal entry into Jerusalem was a distant memory now. The voices of the multitude who went before, and those who followed after the colt upon which Jesus sat crying out ‘Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ no longer echoed in His ears. The time had come, it was upon Him, and those selfsame people who once spread their garments on the road, as He passed by would soon cry out ‘crucify Him!’ He knew what He was about to endure. He had lived with the expectation of this day all of His adult life, and every sermon, every miracle, every step, and every breath, had led up to this one day, the day of days that would change the history of the world.
He knew that the one known as Judas was on his way, He knew that He would be betrayed with a kiss, He knew the contempt with which He would be treated, the pain that was sure to come, the cross He would have to carry, and the nails that would pierce His flesh. Jesus knew it all, every painful and heart wrenching detail, this is why He was now in the garden.
It was not His first time here; he was accustomed to it, praying to the Father, communing with Him under the stars and in the still of the night, but this time was different; the agony was all consuming.
Jesus knew the benefits of prayer, not just a passing ‘thank you Lord’ at the dinner table, but prolonged and protracted and earnest prayer. He knew He needed strength, He knew He needed courage to face what was to come, and so He came to the garden to pray.
Deeply distressed, He left most of his disciples behind, and took Peter, James and John with Him, telling them to watch and pray as He went a little farther, fell on the ground and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him.
But it was not possible, for without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness, and as He always had throughout His time here on earth, Jesus submitted to the Father saying, ‘nevertheless, not what I will, but what you will.’
An angel of the Lord appeared from heaven, strengthening him, yet He continued to pray. His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground yet He continued to pray. Jesus prayed, and when the time had come He rose up from prayer.
He came back to find his disciples sleeping, not once not twice but three times, and in His loving way He reminded them that it was of paramount importance that they watch and pray lest they enter into temptation. To the last He was the epitome of love; to the last He was the epitome of Rabbi, or teacher.
When was the last time you visited the garden? That place of brokenness and anguish, that place of sorrow and self-renunciation, where knowing that you will have to sacrifice and endure for the cause of Christ, you submit to His will and say, ‘Your will be done in my life oh God?’
If Christ is our chief example, then we must do as Christ did, and not forsake those things which He not only practiced but encouraged His disciples to practice. In your season of sorrow, in your season of grief, in your season of anguish, in your season of uncertainty, go to your garden and pray. Whatever your garden might be, that place where you go to fellowship with God, that place wherein you are accustomed to communing with Him, when life seems overwhelming, go to that place and pray. Pray through the anguish, pray through the hurt, pray through the sorrow, until you feel the presence of God, until He comes to strengthen you, until you rise from prayer knowing that come what may you will stand your ground, come what may you will do the Father’s will, come what may you will serve and obey.
If it wasn’t easy for Jesus, it won’t be easy for you. If Jesus agonized and prayed more earnestly still, then we must likewise agonize and pray more earnestly when situations arise in our lives that threaten to capsize us. The answer will come. Perhaps not in the way you were expecting it, perhaps not in the way you envisioned it, perhaps not in the form of an angel or a blinding light, but the answer will come.
In a world that is growing more desperate, fractured and despondent with each passing day, the frequency with which we visit the garden must only increase and not decrease. It is in the garden, in that quiet place of fellowship where it’s only you and God that we will find the necessary strength, comfort and peace for the coming days.
Mark 14:38, “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit is truly ready but the flesh is weak.”
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.