Lent season is upon us again. The rhythm of the faith calendar is interesting, and while most of my protestant friends don't understand Lent, it's a part of millions of believer's lives this time of year.
As I was preparing my head space for Lent this year, I started reading the Passion week again. You know the part of Jesus' journey from the countryside to Jerusalem? It starts with the Palm entry, the trial before Caiaphas, and ultimately His crucifixion on Golgotha.
The part of the story that stood out to me this morning was the time in the Garden.
Two years ago, I went to the Garden outside the walls of Jerusalem; and it was THE most intense experience for me. According to the botanists, the trees standing in the garden today are some of the same trees Jesus might have leaned against during the beginning of the suffering He was about to endure. Standing in the middle of the garden, I felt the weight of what it must have been like.
Of course, I don't know what it's like to be Jesus.
I don't know what it's like to face life threatening circumstances while my buddies lay sleeping by my side.
I don't know the agony Jesus must have known facing a separation from the Father.
But somehow in the middle of that small patch of olive trees, I sensed the Alone-ness.
Luke writes the story like this:
Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. (Luke 22:39-44)
The other gospel writers talk about Jesus' continued pressing for his disciples to pray for Him, but He found them sleeping each time he went to them. But Luke shows us that an Angel had to be sent from Heaven to comfort Jesus.
As I was reading this section this morning, my heart ached again. Not unlike the moments I spent in the Garden myself, I felt the agony of a man longing for his friends to be with him, but because of their inadequacy, God had to send an angel.
Then I began to wonder...
How many of us are walking through life's hard issues?
We look around for those who will walk with us, but often our friends are busy, they don't get it, or they pay attention to their own self interest.
Not wanting to bother, we set out on our own and try to make it...We try to survive.
Even Jesus needed an angel, and that's where my soul is dwelling today.
When life gets hard, and you face trials of many kinds, Who ministers to you?
Is there a place you can go, someone who knows, and maybe more importantly someone who really cares for you and your well being?
Before Lent begins, I'm dwelling on this "weight of pain" we all deal with as humans.
More to come...