As a lifelong Christian, I have always known of Holy Week - the days from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday. I have been in church countless times for seeing children carry palms fronds and sing. I have been in the Maundy Thursday service, which has been contemplative and quiet. I have been to Good Friday services where the last words of our Lord are read and reflected upon. And finally, I have sung at Easter sunrise services and regular Easter services, and been part of Easter Egg hunts with my niece, nephews and my own kids.
Today is Maundy Thursday, the day of observance primarily of The Last Supper. As a Lutheran, and as someone who's church regularly observes Communion, this is an important day of observation. However, I look at today, and specifically one event of this "day", as of primary importance. And that event is Jesus praying in Gethsemane.
For some reason this event is overshadowed by the Last Supper. It is passed over quickly as the Gospel narratives move on to Good Friday and the events leading up to the crucifixion. But for me, Jesus' praying is something to reflect on. For you see, I grew up believing that the reason he prayed so earnestly (and as Scripture tells us, with great drops of blood), and in his prayers pleaded that the "cup be taken" from Him, was due to his reticence about being crucified. After all, I'd not want to go through what he went through: the torture, the beatings, the humiliation, and then being nailed and tied to the cross, and dying so exposed.
But in the last few years I gained a different perspective on Jesus' time in the garden: He was pleading not to be saved from being crucified, but He was pleading not to be removed from God. For you see, on the cross, when Jesus cried out "My God! My God! Why hast thou forsaken me?!" he was, at that instant, separated from God. God had turned his back on Jesus. God had finally taken out His wrath for man's sinfulness on Jesus at that moment. And in reading that plea from the cross, I see now that it goes back to that time in the garden, that time of Jesus' praying, to such anguish that He prayed in great drops of blood.
For me, THAT moment in the garden is so profound, and so important. And yet, Jesus finished His prayer "not my will, but THY will be done". And so, on this Maundy Thursday, let us reflect on Jesus' journey to the cross that started in the garden....