It was one year ago today that my husband and I were in a far away land on a journey that would forever change how we would read the Word of God…
I remember closing my eyes to really soak in the moment. It was a pivotal moment and I wanted to take it all in and truly treasure it. I sat down next to my husband, and with eyes closed, I felt the warm sun hit my face. I knew I was in the presence of dear family in Christ that I would be leaving soon. It was a moment in time where joy and sorrow danced together and where time seemed to stand still. I was living through moments here and there of realizing what is truly precious in life and that sometimes obedience to Christ involves leaving that which is most cherished. I breathed deep the smells and I reached down to twirl the grass. I wiggled my toes against the dirt, knowing that Jesus walked on this very earth. I listened to the sounds and I basked in the peacefulness of a place that I had only read about but never imagined sitting in. This was a moment that would change everything.
I was in Jerusalem, in the Garden of Gethsemane. This garden is precious to me. This garden is where scripture tells us that Jesus went with His disciples to pray before His arrest and crucifixion.
Jesus Prays in Gethsemane
They went to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and Jesus said, “Sit here while I go and pray.” He took Peter, James, and John with him, and he became deeply troubled and distressed. He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
He went on a little farther and fell to the ground. He prayed that, if it were possible, the awful hour awaiting him might pass him by. “Abba, Father,”he cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
Then he returned and found the disciples asleep. He said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”
Then Jesus left them again and prayed the same prayer as before. When he returned to them again, he found them sleeping, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open. And they didn’t know what to say.
When he returned to them the third time, he said, “Go ahead and sleep. Have your rest. But no—the time has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Up, let’s be going. Look, my betrayer is here!” ~Mark 14:32-42, NLT
Immediately following the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus was arrested….
Jesus Is Betrayed and Arrested
After saying these things, Jesus crossed the Kidron Valley with his disciples and entered a grove of olive trees. Judas, the betrayer, knew this place, because Jesus had often gone there with his disciples. The leading priests and Pharisees had given Judas a contingent of Roman soldiers and Temple guards to accompany him. Now with blazing torches, lanterns, and weapons, they arrived at the olive grove.
Jesus fully realized all that was going to happen to him, so he stepped forward to meet them. “Who are you looking for?” he asked.
“Jesus the Nazarene,”they replied.
“I Am he,”Jesus said. (Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them.) As Jesus said “I Am he,” they all drew back and fell to the ground! Once more he asked them, “Who are you looking for?”
And again they replied, “Jesus the Nazarene.”
“I told you that I Am he,” Jesus said. “And since I am the one you want, let these others go.” He did this to fulfill his own statement: “I did not lose a single one of those you have given me.”
Then Simon Peter drew a sword and slashed off the right ear of Malchus, the high priest’s slave. But Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword back into its sheath. Shall I not drink from the cup of suffering the Father has given me?” ~John 18:1-11, NLT
In this moment in Gethsemane, Jesus had to make a choice, but it wasn’t until the Lord brought me to that very place during a major transition in my life that I understood the magnitude of what Jesus did for me. Jesus is God in the flesh. He feels, breathes, and moves just like you and just like me. If he cut his finger, He bled. If His loved one died, He wept. When he was beaten and when nails were driven through His flesh, He felt the pain as any human would. He knew the wrath of God on our behalf is what He was called to endure, and in the Garden of Gethsemane, He was faced with one choice: to be obedient to what God had called Him to (even though it involved pain, rejection, suffering, and death) or to be a fraud.
I cannot express how thankful I am that despite the suffering, Jesus chose to accomplish the work set before Him. He chose to fulfill His calling, and oh for that to be said of my life too.
He chose to endure so that I might be added to the family of Christ
He chose to suffer so that I might be rescued from darkness
He chose to be rejected so that I might be accepted
He chose death so that I can choose Life
May I choose to endure so that others may hear the Good News
May I choose to suffer so that others will have the opportunity to be rescued
May I choose to be rejected so that some might hear and be accepted
May I be free from a fear of death so others may have the opportunity to choose Life
As I sat there on the soil, fingers running over the very ground that the Savior fell on before the Father, I heard the most beautiful sound break the peaceful silence that was all around me. I heard joyful sorrow. Sobs heaved heavy and deep. I looked up to see my husband – the man who loves me and leads me in Truth – weeping with his head in his hands. He didn’t say a word, but I knew. I knew in that moment that he was choosing to obey and follow in the footsteps of Jesus. I knew that he was choosing to be a follower of Christ and continue moving forward in the calling the Lord had made so very clear to us. With each cry I heard, and each gasp of air, I knew that chains were falling off this man and that He would walk out of that garden in freedom – freedom from a love of possessions, freedom from his pursuit of the American Dream, freedom from fear of suffering, and freedom to go and accomplish the task set before him. And although these things are still a temptation for us both, our love of Christ overpowers any earthly love that whispers “disobey” through our longings.
I was blessed as I scooted close and held him tight. I was changed as I whispered prayers over him. I thought back over all that we had gone through to get us to that moment of surrender. I realized that as I was seeing puzzle pieces to our story coming together, I was gaining a heavenly perspective. Our journey to that moment in Gethsemane involved loss, tragedy, death, and tears. But seeing God’s faithfulness and how He was redeeming the very trauma that I thought would never be redeemed brought so much joy from the sorrow. The journey is important and it’s often in the uneventful days of struggling and choosing joy and hope over fear and despair, that God is glorified and we learned to be satisfied.
I will never forget watching the strongest man I know only grow in strength as he allowed a beautiful weakness to emerge, and as he chose to be obedient over being a fraud. This man loves Jesus and his surrender shows it. Nothing is more attractive than watching the love of your life choose to love Jesus above all else.
May others be added to the family of Christ through this man’s surrender
This is our h o p e …
Jesus replied, “I assure you that when the world is made new and the Son of Man sits upon his glorious throne, you who have been my followers will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life. But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then. ~Matthew 19:28-30