Drops of Blood

Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
MATTHEW 26:38-39

WATCH THE ENTRANCE TO THE GARDEN OF GETHSEMANE. Upon entering with his disciples, Jesus pauses—not from fear of the twisted shadows of shrubs and olive trees, innocent in daylight yet sinister in darkness, for even at night the garden is a sanctuary, a place of peace and beauty.

No, Jesus pauses among his disciples because he has faltered under the weight of sorrow and desolation.

His voice is low and hoarse: “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.”

Without question, the disciples obey. It was usual for Jesus to take time alone with his Father.

“Pray that you will not fall into temptation,” Jesus says. Utter loneliness overwhelms him. He does what any man would do—he turns to his friends.

He places one hand on Peter’s shoulder. With his other, he lightly touches James and John, the sons of Zebedee. These are the three men closest to him, the three who witnessed his transfiguration, who stood beside him when he raised the daughter of Jairus from the dead.

They follow Jesus deeper into the garden where he shares his troubles with them, drawing a deep breath to find strength.

“My soul,” he says, “is overwhelmed to the point of death.”

He turns to them, outlined by the moonlight of the garden night. “Stay here and keep watch with me.”

He does not beg. The need is in his voice. The obvious agony of his soul terrifies them. This is the man who calmed the storm, who walked across water. What thing of horror can bend him to the point of defeat?

Terror mutes them.

Jesus walks away, but not so far that they are unable to see him collapse on his face as he kneels. When he prays aloud, his voice carries to them.

“My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me”—a human plea.

“Yet not as I will, but as you will”—divine submission.

Both natures agonize in the contradiction of a perfect duality, submitting to the humiliation of death. It is the spiritual anguish of a single star shrinking to oblivion in an eternal night of infinite black. It is a physiological anguish so great that his body responds by constricting the vessels near the skin.

Drops of blood fall from his brow.

Only later, after the resurrection, when Peter and the sons of Zebedee truly know that Jesus is divine, are they able to look back on this moment and understand that his pain was far greater than any pain man had ever suffered.

Fallen man is born with the certainty of death’s future claim. Body and soul are fused at the beginning to be torn apart at the end.

Jesus, however, was born into this world without the selfishness of the body’s sins to dim the spirit’s awareness of God. For him, unlike any other man, there was no need for death to free his soul from a decaying prison of flesh.

To man, death must be accepted because it is inevitable.

To Jesus it was the ultimate miscarriage of justice.

Yet when the soldiers and chief priests approached with swords and clubs, he did not wait for them to reach him. He stood from his prayers and walked toward them.

Death was his choice.

Made for us.

From The Carpenter’s Cloth: Christ’s Journey to the Cross and Beyond by Sigmund Brouwer

Taken from ChristianityToday.com

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