Befriending Death: Remove this cup
They went to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took with him Peter and James and John and began to be distressed and agitated. And he said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and keep awake.” And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. He said, “Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me, yet not what I want but what you want.” He came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep awake one hour? Keep awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. 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. 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. Get up, let us be going. Look, my betrayer is at hand.” ~ Mark 2:32-42
My favorite song in the musical "Jesus Christ Superstar" is "Gethsemane." At my church, Grace Lutheran in Royersford, this past weekend our praise band sang selections from the musical and this one, as it always does, got me.
What is it about this song? What is it about this verse?
Is it that Jesus, just like us, has worry and fear about death?
Is it that Jesus, just like us, doesn't want to die alone?
There is comfort for me in the fact that Jesus experienced all the human emotions that I have felt. That like me, Jesus faced death.
Because that's what we are all facing. Death, whether it is coming today, tomorrow, or years from now, is inevitable.
But from Jesus we see - know - that it isn't the end. Henri Nouwen compared it in a parable he wrote to the transition we face from the dark comfort of the womb to the brightness of the world.
Maybe you still aren't feeling friendly toward death. That's OK. It may take time for it to sink in.
But know that Jesus went before you, paving the way for something else. Something alive.
Something of infinite possibility.
- How have your feelings about death changed over the years? Or have they?
- Does it comfort you that Jesus faced death just as you will?
Holy One, lead me, push me, pull me, prompt me along this journey of faith. Keep my footsteps sure and my eyes fixed on the places you would send me. Amen