They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” Mark 14, 32
The scene of the agony in the garden was an ancient olive farm where our blessed Lord frequently retired to pray to his Father. The time was about midnight on the eve of the first Good Friday. The paschal moon, filtering through the olive trees, spotlights this dramatic scene.
Our blessed Lord prostrates himself upon the rocky soil clutching at the very ground for support. He groans in distress and writhes in physical agony. His usual calmness deserts him as he keeps repeating the same prayer over and over again: “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”
Great beads of sweat appear on the face of Jesus as a shattering storm engulfs his soul. Gradually, the sweat turned in crimson as his prayer increased in its intensity. Soon, his entire body perspires…a sweat of blood.
What are the causes of this internal martyrdom of our Lord? What is this “cup” which he pleads with his Father to remove? He has just witnessed a “Preview of his Passion.” Picture after picture, the various sufferings of the Passion flashed through his mind. The crucifixion, stark and terrifying, loomed up before him and caused his sensitive soul to recoil in terror. Once again he pleads with his Father, “If it is possible…”
Yet Christ did not run away from the Cross and the suffering that he knew awaited. Nor did he take the easy way out. He suffered this incredible agony in reparation for our sins. The conclusion is obvious. We cannot live a “comfort-at -all-costs” philosophy of life. To follow Christ calls for an unrelenting struggle with the tendencies to sin found in the make-up of each of us.
M. Hamilton Stevens, Th.D.