He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, Luke 22:41

I can’t imagine the emotion of that night. The disciples were confused about some of Jesus’ words in the upper room. There seemed to be some sort of secret dialogue going on between Jesus and Judas. After living with the guy 24/7 for three years the men must have sensed something was wrong, something very heavy on Jesus’ heart.

Then went out from the upper room to a small garden, named Gethsemane, on the Mount of Olives. Jesus took his three very closest friends to apart from the rest to pray. How much did he know? He was God, but he was also man. He knew as a man the horrendous nature of crucifixion. He’d no doubt passed by as someone was being hung on a tree. Did he get a strange feeling every time he saw that? Did he think, “Some day that will be me”?

For whatever reason, tonight Jesus knew that he was going to die. Over the next few hours he would experience pain beyond belief, the rejection of his closest friends, and worst of all, the inability to sense the presence of his father. All through his ministry he was rejected, hungry at times and mistreated and misunderstood. But he’d always had his daddy to go to. Soon, even that would be gone.

In the midst of his agony he went to talk to Dad one more time. He didn’t talk about himself. He asked once for God to reconsider, but the rest of his time was spent praying. Praying for you. Praying for me. Praying that in the midst of our darkest hours we would remain strong. Praying that love and unity would always be the defining characteristic of our families and churches. Even when death stared him in the face his main thoughts and concerns were for us.

Maybe that’s something to think about when it seems all of life has collapsed around you. Maybe it’s something to remember when the future seems hopeless, when the things you are forced to endure are insurmountable. When you don’t think you can go on.

Jesus, in his darkest hour never stopped thinking of you. I’ve seen artist renderings of Jesus praying alone in the garden. At best they have the disciples a long distance away. ‘A stone’s throw’ means ‘very near’, not far away. When the pain of living seems to be too much, remember he is just a stone’s throw away and it always thinking of you.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, it’s amazing to me to think about how hard that night in the garden must have been for you. I can’t imagine how hard it was to stare death, rejection and separation in the face. Yet you loved me so much your last thoughts were for me, not yourself. Thank you for loving me so much. Empower me with your Spirit to remember, when life seems too hard, that you love me and are just a ‘stone’s throw away’. In your name, Amen.

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