Maundy Thursday is celebrated as the day in which Jesus had his last supper with his disciples. After dinner, he went into the garden with 11 of his disciples in tow. (Judas had slipped away.)
We read in Luke 22:39-46 about Jesus’ experience in the garden.
39 And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. 40 And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” 41 And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed,42 saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” 43 And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. 44 And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.45 And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, 46 and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”
To consider what Jesus went through, we must first think about where he was at, physically. He went to a garden. Where does the history of Christianity begin?
In a garden.
Jesus went into a garden to pray because not only was it a place to He could steal away and have a quiet moment, but it was also a place that could remind Himself of why He was about to endure what He was going to endure — restoring the pathway to the garden where eternity had been lost for mankind.
He literally had the “weight of the world” on His shoulders, agonizing not only over what would happen to His human body, but with bearing every person’s sinful nature that was alive at that time and in the times to come.
He asked the Father to allow His calling to be taken away from Him, and in the next breath obediently says “Your will be done.”
It in this moment, we truly get to see the humanity of Jesus. He was 100% God and 100% human. Throughout His life, He lived by the Spirit. In this moment, He prayed.
He prayed because the temptation to walk away from a human race filled with so much darkness was far greater than anything He had ever be tempted with.
He prayed to receive strength. In His humanity, an angel had to come to Him and give Him strength.
Jesus even exhorted His disciples to pray so they wouldn’t fall into temptation. He gave them and inadvertently gave us the answer on how to avoid temptation.
The agony. The suffering. The anxiety. The stress His human body endured caused Him to sweat blood. The medical term for it hematidrosis. The cause for this incredibly rare condition?
Extremely high levels of stress.
Jesus’ suffering didn’t just happen on the cross. We get to see it the night before.
How often do we have anxiety over something before it actually occurs?
I have anxiety about picking my kids up every day because of traffic. Because of unpredictable tantrums. Because of all the touching, talking, nose wiping, diaper changing, boo-boo kissing, and just keeping them alive in general. This happens everyday. Some days, when I get home with them, I have to take half an Ativan or half of a Klonopin to keep my heart rate down so that I avoid a panic attack.
I have a blast with them. I get them home, and we run around the lawn, chasing butterflies, playing fetch with our cat (yes, cat), and blowing bubbles. 99% of the time it’s way better than envisioned it.
There are also times that we know won’t be great that we have to face. I remember getting in trouble for something stupid that I didn’t even do when I was in school. I was so sick because no one believed me, and I had to go and face my consequences, While the consequences were difficult for a little while, I got through it.
While being brutally beaten, mocked, humiliated, and crucified had to be the most horrific way to die, it didn’t even compare to the joy that Jesus was looking forward to over the fact that He can now spend eternity with us.
He saw joy on the cross.
looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2
Anxiety is painful and a thief, but we have a Savior who pushed through the most atrocious anxiety and found joy.
He can help us through our anxiety because He’s been there. He can help us to see joy.
Have a Happy Easter, folks!