Friday, April 22, 2011

Gethsemane (at Market Square)

At Gethsemane, in a Garden, Jesus’ passion begins – and so does our journey here today. It’s a decisive moment in human history – reminding us of that earlier decisive moment in another Garden, when the human race first said NO to God’s will, and which Jesus’ prayer in this Garden is intended to undo. For here Jesus accepts his Father’s will and so resets the course of human history, so tragically misdirected for so long.
The military metaphor of vigilance and keeping watch – which was Jesus’ command to his sleepy disciples, “remain here, and watch” – is no accident. The disciples’ sleepiness signifies letting one’s guard down – dangerously so. It means allowing easier access to the power of evil and sin, always so busily at work in the world – and especially on that historic night. Jesus is left alone – abandoned by his sleepy disciples, whose napping foreshadows their full-scale running away and abandonment of Jesus in the next scene.
The disciples’ sleep also means they miss out on God’s power at work in Jesus’ prayer, Jesus resisting and defeating the power of evil at the very moment when it seems to be winning. Jesus’ prayer resists the tempter and decisively defeats the devil - by being wholly in harmony with his Father’s will, with God’s great plan for the salvation of the world. Jesus’ admonition to the sleepy disciples, “remain here, and watch,” is addressed to us too – challenging us to stay awake, to stay awake with him, and so to get on board, once and for all, with God’s great plan for us, for a new and transformed life, in the kingdom of his Father’s forgiveness.

Meditation on "The Agony in the Garden," Ecumenical Stations of the Cross, Market Square, Knoxville, TN, Good Friday, April 22, 2011.

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