Today's guest post is from my Twitter friend Terry Smith (@TerryRamoneSmit). You can also check out his blog at http://tsmith0095.wordpress.com Many thanks to Terry for being willing to share with us on this adventure!
The Garden of Gethsemane
The historical account of the Garden of Gethsemane is given in all four Gospels, although Luke and John tell the story a little differently than Matthew or Mark. Matthew and Mark are basically identical and as Mark's text is the earliest, I choose to use that one. I'm going to do my best to take the accounts of Mark, Luke and John and bring a little cohesiveness to these apparently three different stories.
There is a thing we have to agree on before we proceed. That is that the text is Holy, Perfect, Ordained and Inspired by God. If we can't say that the text is perfect, then all of Christianity is a sham. Do we think John could perfectly remember every word of the High Priestly prayer 40 or so years after he heard it? No. We have to say, through the Spirit it was brought back to him.
Now, let's take a look at Mark and Luke. In these accounts, Jesus prays for "this cup" to be taken from Him and then He says, "But not my will, but Yours." What cup do we think Jesus was referring to? We know that he knew He was about to face the cross. Was Jesus talking about a cup of suffering, pain, humiliation? No, I don't think He was. (For the record, this is not an original thought.) I think Jesus was using a metaphor for sins of the world. That makes a lot more sense doesn't it? Jesus spent a lot of time talking about His death and Resurrection. He wasn't afraid of death or physical suffering. He simply didn't want the anguish of the sins of the world to rest on Him. This is the reprieve Jesus was praying for. I hate it when theologians make Jesus look weak at this moment by saying that He was praying for a reprieve from the Cross. Guys, when Jesus came to Earth, He knew it was for the Cross. He knew what was coming. The Cross wasn't some left hook God threw that Jesus didn't see coming.
In John 17, we see what is often called the High Priestly Prayer. First of all, Jesus asks for the Father to glorify his Son. This was Jesus saying, "Hey Daddy, I've down all you've asked. Show your grace on me so that I may complete the work You have for me." In Luke, we say that Jesus' sweat was like "drops of blood falling down to the ground." This John 17 prayer wasn't some wimpy little, "Bless our food, sanctify it for our bodies" prayer. This was emotion. This was a love that no one could or can understand. Jesus prayed for Himself, then He prayed for His close disciples. He prayed that God would protect them by the name that God had given Jesus. (Later on in Acts, these close followers would be given the name "Christ-like".) Then Jesus prayed for the ones who didn't know of Him yet. He prayed for unity in all of the believers and the believers to come. He prayed for the ones that would come to know Him by the Message of the Disciples, that they would be one body, one cooperative group.
And then, almost immediately after He prayed for unity, men came with swords. The one who would betray Jesus came and kissed him on the cheek. With that kiss, the Roman soldiers and priests knew which one Jesus was and came to take Him. And Peter, who never thought much before he acted, cut off one of the priests' ear. And at that Jesus said, "No more of this!" and healed the man's ear. That makes me question those who are abusive with their actions and words on behalf of their Jesus. Jesus would be sick at what we have done with the divisions in His Bride in America. We have the very Christian Left who say, "God loves everybody so we're all going to Heaven." Then you have the very Independent Fundamental Organizations (I refuse to call them Christian or a church) who say, "God hates sinners and we're all going to Hell."
I say we have to come together. We can't all be all right, but we can't all be all wrong either. How about we just love one another and try to live in the unity Christ prayed for?
He Is Risen!!!