I’ve been spending some time this week thinking about Jesus praying in the garden. In Luke’s gospel (the Passion narrative used on Palm Sunday), it says:
“Then going out, He went, as was His custom, to the Mount of Olives…” – Luke 22:39
I had never considered the phrase before, but this time I was struck by these words: as was His custom. It was as though the writer was saying that Jesus had gone to the Mount of Olives many, many times before. That it was familiar and comfortable to Him. That this was the place He often went to seek the Father’s heart.
And this was where He went on the day He chose to die. Wrecked and aching with pain because of His love for us and the weight of our sins, He came to the place that brought Him comfort, that brought Him peace. He went with His pain and He ran to the Father.
My Jesus, in Your human weakness You gave us a model for how we are to act, what we are to do when we are faced with the weight of our own sins, sufferings, and temptations. When You were burdened with our offenses You did not try to carry them bravely. You did not try to put on a brave face and tell Your Father that You could do it without Him. No, You ran to Him. You ran to Your Father and fell at His feet and begged Him to take this pain away from You. You said to Him, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me…” (Luke 22:42). In short, You showed Him Your weakness.
This was the action our first parents couldn’t do. When faced with the temptation of the serpent, they didn’t run to You. They didn’t cry out to the God Who was always in the garden with them to rescue them. Instead, they stayed silent, and they hid their weakness from You. And this was the action that You, O Jesus, chose to undo by crying out in the garden. Your first act of redemption began not with the triumph of human strength, but with the meek and humble expression of human weakness.
And how did the Father respond to You when You came to Him and told Him that You were afraid, that You didn’t think You could do it and You needed His help? He chose to strengthen You.
“And to strengthen him an angel from heaven appeared to him.” – Luke 22:43
Your Father did not disappoint You when You chose to come to Him in weakness and ask Him for strength. And maybe, just maybe, when we come to Him when we are weak, He will strengthen us, too.
My friends, pursuing holiness is hard. We have to endure so much suffering, so many temptations. We have to bear many hardships and face the reality of our sin. And in our human frailty, we ourselves will never have the strength to endure it. But maybe next time, whether we’re encountering a temptation or feeling the weight our own suffering, we, like Jesus, can choose not to hide, but to run to the Father, to go to that old familiar place, and from that place, to ask Him for strength.
And in that strength, may we also be given the courage to pray the most important prayer of all: “not my will but Yours be done.”
Happy Easter, y’all.