Mark 14:32 They went to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be distressed and agitated. 34 And he said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and keep awake.” 35 And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. 36 He said, “Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.” 37 He came and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep awake one hour? 38 Keep awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 39 And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. 40 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. 41 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. 42 Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.”
I was reflecting on this passage with a pastor friend of mine who noted the increasing isolation Jesus had been experiencing on the way to the cross. In the early part of his ministry Jesus was like a circus attraction, drawing huge crowds as he healed the sick, cast out demons, and taught the people about God’s Kingdom. Over time, however, things changed.
As the religious authorities became more aware of Jesus’ ministry they began to openly challenge and confront him. After a while it was clear a show-down was in the offing – and the crowds disappeared. Too dangerous. By the time we get to this passage most of Jesus’ disciples had disappeared as well, with only a handful remaining. Then his closest disciples, Peter/James/John let him down when they couldn’t stay awake as he prayed. Finally, on the cross, even God the Father turned his back on Jesus. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?!”
Jesus was all alone.
This morning I’m reflecting on Jesus promise in Matthew 28 “Remember I am with you always…”. As one who knew the pain of abandonment, Jesus promises to never abandon us or forsake us. I try to remember this in the times when I feel alone. Holidays can be that way for me, especially given that I have no extended family close by. But not today. Today there will be about 20 people coming by the house for some play time in the pool and grilled fajitas. We’re not blood relatives, but today we are a family. I’m very grateful for that. Thank you Lord Jesus. Amen.