11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, what we remember and celebrate this weekend, is the only reason there can be steps that lead us anywhere. Without Christ going through the cross there can be no forgiveness of sins. Without Christ going through the cross there can be no resurrection from the dead. Without Christ going through the cross there can be no hope for a future. Without Christ going through the cross there can be no power to carry out God’s will for our lives.
Imagine Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane toying with the thought of not going through with what he* knew lay before him. Imagine him even having the thought of not drinking the cup of death that was being passed in front of his lips. He did not have to do this. Unlike us, He did not have to die. Death was not a requirement for Him. His suffering and death was completely an act of his free will. I’m going to write it again so we can focus on this thought even more: He did not have to die. It’s only in understanding this that we begin to realize the depth of His love for us. This was a choice only he could make.
Imagine that he actually felt the need for his disciples to pray with him and he went to find them and found them asleep. Imagine him returning to his place of prayer feeling completely alone in the universe. No one to pray with him. No one to even begin to grasp what he was facing. No one to sit up with him in his weakness. No one to even begin to fathom his struggle.
This was the incredible push and pull of Christ’s experience in the garden. This is when he felt the most like us. This was the first time, since He was born human on this planet, that his will was in conflict with the will of His Father. This is when the fate of the whole earth hung in the balance.
For a moment there, the universe held its breath. Then he prayed the prayer that made it all possible: “Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done.” The rest is history. And hope.
* I purposely chose not to capitalize all the personal pronouns for Jesus in this piece because I wanted to stress how He was struggling with his humanity and how much he was identifying with us in this moment.