Easter is just around the corner. During this Holy Week, today, March 29th, is remembered as Maundy Thursday.
Each person who decides to be intentional about his or her spiritual journey will undoubtedly experience memorable moments when the air between Heaven and earth feels thin. Praying among ancient olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane—the very place where many points defining Jesus’ life purpose converged—was one of those times for me.
On Thursday, Jesus shared a final meal with his disciples, and the sacrament of communion was established.
Following their ‘Last Supper,’ they walked together to the Garden of Gethsemane.
In the Garden Jesus agonized, praying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me;
the Garden Jesus gave us the ultimate example of submission when he said, nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” (Matthew 23:39 NKJV)
In the Garden Jesus’ weary disciples couldn’t stay awake to pray for their master teacher and friend whom they suspected was the long-awaited Messiah.
In the Garden Judas planted a kiss of betrayal on Jesus’ cheek.
In the Garden Roman soldiers arrested an innocent man.
The hours between Thursday and Friday must have been dizzying for those who loved Jesus. Even though Jesus had tried to prepare his disciples for what was about to happen, I imagine the thought overwhelmed their comprehension.
The Garden of Gethsemane
Tomorrow, March 30th, many of us will attend Good Friday services during which we’ll consider the unimaginable suffering of Jesus on a Roman cross. His willing submission became the ultimate sacrifice for all the ways we frail humans miss the mark of God’s perfection.
When I was in Barcelona recently, my group, along with a throng of folks from around the world, visited the most popular tourist site in Spain. The Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família is an amazing large Roman Catholic church that has been under construction for over 100 years. The photo below shows one side of the church, which depicts Christ’s crucifixion.
While dying a torturous death, Jesus said, “It is finished.” His earthly journey as Emmanuel—God with us—had concluded, but the character and love of God that Jesus came to show were far from over.
The Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família in Barcelona, Spain
Signs of ongoing construction visible in this photograph remind me Jesus’ agonizing death does not signify the end. His work of redemption on the cross continues to us living more than 2000 years later.
As I conclude today’s post, I pray each of us will:
- Consider Christ’s submission to God in the Garden on Maundy Thursday, exploring areas of our own willfulness the Spirit may be inviting us to submit to God’s higher will.
- Give thanks for Christ’s willingness to endure the agony of the cross on Good Friday. If we are carrying a heavy burden right now, ask God to give us strength to keep moving forward with faith and determination. If our burden is light during this season, ask God to show us whose load we can help ease.
- Together, rejoice in the miracle of Christ’s resurrection on Easter Sunday, giving thanks for the gift of life each new day brings.
P. S. To all who told me they were praying for me, thank you. Each day I’m feeling a bit better, and I appreciate your faithfulness to pray!