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Maundy Thursday Reflection 4/4

Luke 22:39-46 – They go out to the garden of Gethsemane

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.

When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. ‘Why are you sleeping?’ he asked them. ‘Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.’

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

When the meal was finished they went out to an old, familiar haunt. Familiar enough that Judas knew just where to find them.
The disciples were tired, it had been a long evening and the mood was sombre.

“Stay here and pray” he told them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation”
Again he knew. The pressure of the crowd can be great. The temptation to keep your distance, to keep yourself safe, to deny that you know him.
“Pray that you will not fall into temptation.”

He walked away into the trees to do the same.

“Father” he cried out, “If you are willing, take this cup from me”.
Honest words. Vulnerable words. Knowing the answer but still asking the question.
“If you are willing, take this cup from me”

And then, “Not my will but yours be done”.
The hardest prayer that anyone can pray, the prayer of a true servant.
The Creator of the universe who made himself nothing.
The Lord of all who took on the nature of a servant.
The Son of God who became obedient, even to death.
On this darkest of nights, at the lowest of ebbs, Jesus’ humbling of himself was complete.
“Not my will but yours be done”

And in that moment, as he submitted himself completely to what was to come, he was comforted by an angel.
As if God the Father was saying “Yes, my will shall be done but you are not alone, I am with you”

And so he continued to pray, harder than he had ever prayed before. Knowing that he would need all the strength he could find to get through the next few days.

When he had finished he staggered back to the disciples but they were asleep.
“Get up!” he said, shaking them until their weary eyes opened. “Get up! Keep praying! Pray that you will not fall into temptation.”

But as they rose from their slumber they heard voices entering the garden.
A familiar figure approached and kissed Jesus on the cheek, and there was no more time for prayer.

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