If we were to consider all of Jesus’ Places of the Heart, we would need to include the entire gospels. Each place where Jesus has been is now a place where love has reigned. Today’s place, the Garden of Gethsemane, is actually an olive grove where Jesus prayed and agonized before his betrayal and arrest. Certainly it is a painful reality of his deep, sacrificial love for us and his obedient love for God during his time of utter grief and fear.
Light the Prophecy and Bethlehem Candles.
Mark 14:32-42 (NRSV)
They went to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be distressed and agitated. And he said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and keep awake.” And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. He said, “Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.” He came and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep awake one hour? Keep awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. And once more he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy; and they did not know what to say to him. He came a third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Enough! The hour has come; the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.”
Each of us has probably felt misunderstood, underappreciated, or even ignored at times. But here is Jesus, asking his closest friends to wait with him as he prays. While he is deeply distressed… agitated… grieved even to death, his friends fall asleep. He has only asked one thing- to keep awake and pray while they wait for him- and they can’t even do that. They seem to have no idea of the magnitude of his agony or the significance of his prayers.
We may find it easy to be critical of these disciples, but do we fully comprehend what Jesus endured (how could we)? Are we paying attention to the loving ways he is now moving in our lives? Are we hearing what he is asking us to do? Or are we asleep and unaware of his presence, alive and active within and around us? How often are we looking after our own needs instead of his?
Gethsemane is a very special Place of the Heart, as we recognize the sacrificial selflessness of Jesus, and the sleepy selfishness of us.
Prayer: Awaken us, Jesus, and keep us attentive to your Word, your Spirit, your example and most of all, your love. Amen.