KINGDOM AND GARDEN
Read: Matthew 6:9-10, 26:36-46
9 “This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven. (NIV Matthew 6:9-10)
36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” 39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.45 Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!” (NIV Matthew 26:36-46)
Study: Of all the gospel writers, only John used the word “garden” to identify the place where Jesus went to pray after the Last Supper, his last night before he went to the cross. The first words of his gospel (“In the beginning”) had already linked the story of Jesus to Genesis’ creation story. His garden language signaled that Jesus’ story was the story of a new creation, of a fresh start for humanity. In this second garden, Jesus reversed the fateful choice Adam and Eve made in Eden, the choice all humans are tempted to make: the choice to say “MY will, not yours, God, be done.” Jesus prayed, “Not what I want but what you want.” Jesus’ presence in the garden was no ruinous accident. He had chosen to come to this moment. Still, he recoiled from the awful suffering he knew lay ahead. But crucially, he told God, “Not what I want but what you want.” Sooner or later, we all face one or more life situations that seem unbearable. Jesus honestly told God, in the Garden, what he wished could happen. What does that teach you about the value of honestly facing and expressing your feelings at times of hardship? But also, to what extent have you learned, like Jesus, to trust God enough to say, “Not what I want but what you want”?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, in that sad second garden, you reversed the curse of humans trying to be wiser than God, to pursue our own will. Thank you for opening the gates of eternity that night, and giving me a model of trust toward which I keep growing. Amen.