The other morning I was meditating on Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. Much ink has been spilled on what took place that night as Jesus prayed and the disciples napped. Jesus asked the Father to let the cup pass. Why? What cup? Some think that it was the cup of God’s wrath that Jesus was asked to drink to the very dregs. These people say that Jesus was aware of what was coming that night and the next day. He would be tortured and killed. Some, if not most, believe that Jesus was also aware of the purpose for this. He was to be the sacrifice, the ἱλαστήριον; the means and the place where forgiveness, or atonement was offered. I’m not convinced that he was aware of this. But, that’s a topic for another day.
One thing that I am sure of was that Jesus was convinced that he was being faithfully obedient to the Father. Paul made this clear in Philippians 2. It was the Father’s will that Jesus move forward to the cross.
I think that there was something else happening that night that sometimes gets overlooked in the search for theological truth. That thing was the grief that Jesus felt about leaving this life. Although, he knew that something far better was coming, I think that he experienced a sense of loss, too. From what I can see in the gospels, Jesus enjoyed life. He was accused of hanging with drunkards and gluttons because he “came eating and drinking.” He was a prophet who enjoyed working with the outcast and marginalized. I’m sure he had joy in healing people and restoring lost family members. Children seemed to hold a special place in his heart. And, we must not forget his parting words to his most intimate associates. “No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you” John 15:15 NASB. These were important relationships that had been forged over 3 years of living, eating, drinking…being together. He was leaving Peter, James, John and the rest. Did he know that they would respond favorably to his absence and the Spirit’s presence? He may have had his doubts, especially if we take Mark’s portrayal of the twelve. Jesus had experienced joy and laughter; testing and fulfillment; everything that life in Palestine at that time could offer a person. I think we should consider these things. Jesus was, after all, human. He can relate to our concerns about loss. And, we must learn to identify with his faithfulness in order to move forward in our own lives.