I tried to think of a clever title for this post, something uplifting and edifying, but in the end, what words can accurately describe this place and this time? Not even the greatest wordsmith—Shakespeare or Milton and Charles Dickens—can put into language what happened here. What still happens here for each of us.
The Road to Gethsemane
Each of us must trod some part of Gethsemane in our mortal experience. But the beauty of our road is that it’s not a lonely one. Jesus’ was, though. He, who suffered for all, had to suffer alone. Even His chosen disciples fell asleep during His agony:
“And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour?”Matthew 26:40
The Savior’s words, other than being a gentle rebuke, have interesting nuggets of knowledge within them. How easy is it for us to “fall asleep” during the critical moments, to misread the urgency of a situation or become lax or comfortable and cease trying as we should? Especially now, with the signs of the times that Jesus gave (and the prophets before Him), being alert and aware is more than important, it’s critical; it’s essential. He follows up with these words, which tell us how to be prepared:
“Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”Matthew 26:41
Even during the worst sort of agony, Jesus was giving us everything we need to know. In order to maintain vigilance, we need to “watch and pray” or be alert to the world and to the Lord. Have you ever stopped praying or reading your scriptures for a while, and you felt your spiritual self sort of shrivel? I have, and it’s horrifying the changes that can occur even after one day of negligence. We live in this world; we need to at least give God a few hours of it. For our own good at least.
After this incident, Jesus was betrayed by one of His own. Was He surprised? No, but that wouldn’t stop Him from mourning the betrayal. His road to Gethsemane might have began with His suffering in the garden, with the Atonement, but it continued on through this betrayal, the interrogation and abuse in front of the chief priest, and the denial of Peter. And that’s not to mention which occurs afterwards (in chapter 27): imprisonment, mockery and abuse from the Romans, and crucifixion. At last, He was left utterly alone.
This was the road the Savior took, but ours is much smoother. We might experience injustice, abuse, betrayal, but we are never alone. We experience guilt for our sins, but we don’t have to atone for them as the Savior did. We might experience loneliness and isolation, but we are never left alone.
Whatever road to Gethsemane you must trod, know that another has smoothed the way, has trod it before, and will trod it with you.