Knee Jerk Devotional: Luke 22:39-53
Leaving there, he went, as he so often did, to Mount Olives. The disciples followed him. When they arrived at the place, he said, "Pray that you don't give in to temptation."
He pulled away from them about a stone's throw, knelt down, and prayed, "Father, remove this cup from me. But please, not what I want. What do you want?" At once an angel from heaven was at his side, strengthening him. He prayed on all the harder. Sweat, wrung from him like drops of blood, poured off his face.
He got up from prayer, went back to the disciples and found them asleep, drugged by grief. He said, "What business do you have sleeping? Get up. Pray so you won't give in to temptation."
No sooner were the words out of his mouth than a crowd showed up, Judas, the one from the Twelve, in the lead. He came right up to Jesus to kiss him. Jesus said, "Judas, you would betray the Son of Man with a kiss?"
When those with him saw what was happening, they said, "Master, shall we fight?" One of them took a swing at the Chief Priest's servant and cut off his right ear.
Jesus said, "Let them be. Even in this." Then, touching the servant's ear, he healed him.
Jesus spoke to those who had come—high priests, Temple police, religion leaders: "What is this, jumping me with swords and clubs as if I were a dangerous criminal? Day after day I've been with you in the Temple and you've not so much as lifted a hand against me. But do it your way—it's a dark night, a dark hour."
We come to the end of another week and hopefully you are doing well. I know for me it’s been great, one of the best weeks in a long time.
This morning’s reading is technically for tomorrow (but since I don’t write on Saturdays I thought it would be ok to jump ahead!) because I wrote about today’s passage earlier this week on accident. Ha!
Here we are in the Garden, the moment of Jesus’ betrayal and arrest. It’s a moment that always breaks my heart. Every time I read it. The grief of the moment and Jesus being betrayed with a kiss from one of his closest friends, it’s gut wrenching.
What strikes me about this story this morning is Jesus’ humanity.
I think that we often think of him only as the God-man. Too often we miss his humanity. We miss his weakness and his broken-heartedness.
Here we find him praying and begging that the cup be taken from him. He knew and understood what was about to happen. You can hear and feel the pain and sorrow in his words. But, there is also something else, a decision and willingness to trust God in the moment. It wasn’t a blind trust by any stretch of the imagination. It was an eyes wide open, I know what’s coming, this is going to be awful, decision.
I find it beautiful that there was a moment where Jesus said, “Any other way?”
The struggle that he walked through in this moment wasn’t sin. It wasn’t wrong. It was holy and good. The struggle of faith includes weeping and frustration. It includes the hard stuff. Struggling to follow God is not always easy and it’s OK to say so. If the God-man can wilt and cry out for mercy, so can I. I, you, we don’t have to have some false bravado all the time. We don’t have to be strong every minute of every day. There are times when we are going to feel weak and sad and heartbroken and struggling.
Jesus life of faith included that too.
So, on this dreary rainy Friday, remember it’s OK to enter into the sorrow of life. People will fail you. Your friends might betray you. Life will be hard. To enter into it and feel it with all of who you are is good and righteous.
I wrote yesterday about how sometimes the Psalms feel whiny for me. But, I think that is rooted is my own dislike of feeling my emotions. The Psalms show us that God wants us to have all the feelings and to express all the emotions. God is good with us being brutally honest with all of it.
I’m going to wrap this up with the opening lines from Psalm 102, it’s heart wrenching, and it’s Scripture and it’s holy.
GOD, listen! Listen to my prayer,
listen to the pain in my cries.
Don't turn your back on me
just when I need you so desperately.
Pay attention! This is a cry for help!
And hurry—this can't wait!
I want to learn to engage my emotions and not just stuff them.