Dinner is over and Jesus and His disciples have gone to one of their favorite places; the Garden of Gethsemane. This is where Jesus prays for Himself for the first time in His life. We are not going to dwell on that prayer today because John, through the Holy Spirit, doesn’t mention it. I just felt impressed to do so.
John focuses on something that is amiss in the garden that night. The garden where Jesus often brought His disciples. A place of refreshing. A place of teaching. A place of refuge from the crowds. That night it became more. It became a place of complete surrender, to the Father and to man. It also became a place of betrayal and violence.
Judas knew of Jesus’ affinity for this particular garden spot. He knew Jesus would go there that night. Had Jesus stated so before Judas left the table or was it just a given? Either way, Judas wouldn’t have to lead his contingent of armed guards all over the city to find Jesus. Instead they armed themselves and headed to His favorite spot in this region.
I wonder if there was a reason besides convenience that the garden spot was chosen. Did Judas bring the soldiers to this garden because it was special to Jesus? Did Judas bring the guards here to show Jesus how powerful and superior he was to Him? “I know every hiding place You have. I can get You anywhere anytime.”
Why did God choose this garden? Was it out of convenience too? Was it because Jesus had just received refreshing there? Was it to prevent a mob mess? Was it to allow the disciples to get away? Whatever the reason, this garden would be forever remembered with Jesus’ sacrifice.
When the soldiers approach, Jesus took immediate steps to protect His disciples. He knew what lay ahead for himself and He knew His Father would look after His disciples in His absence. But He wanted them to escape unharmed. He put Himself in the path of the guards.
Jesus didn’t need Judas’ kiss to identify Him for the guards. He freely identified Himself as the one they were seeking as soon as they voiced their intended target. But they either couldn’t or wouldn’t act on that knowledge. Instead they “drew back and fell to the ground” (verse 6b). Was it because they couldn’t stand in the presence of God? Jesus answered them again as to Him being their intended target.
At that point another problem crops up. First the soldiers wouldn’t or couldn’t advance, then Peter couldn’t resist trying to help Jesus out. Peter was ready to defend Jesus to the death. But Jesus was having none of it. God’s plan called for the guards to be successful in arresting Jesus. “Put you sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup the Father has given Me?” (verse 11). Jesus could have easily kept all those seeking Him on the ground, but He didn’t. He protected His men from harm and surrendered to the will of men. He had already surrendered to the Father’s will during His prayer time. It was time. His hour had come.
Lord Jesus, what do You look back on when You think of the Garden now? Do You think about the times spent with Your disciples in teaching and refreshing? Do You revisit Your most fervent prayer? Do You reflect back on Judas’ kiss and the betrayal that happened that night? Or do You savor each experience instead? Did this night ruin Your memories of that special place or did it elevate them because of the significance of Your surrender. You could have easily walked away from both forms of surrender, but You chose not to. Gethsemane; the garden of surrender. Not it’s official name but the one I received from You. I believe You have a poem for me from this. For now I simply want to revisit Heaven’s Tears.
Thank You Jesus for Your surrender. For the love that kept You there that night amidst all the angry men. For the protection You provided Peter when he struck out in fear. For the safety You assured for all Your disciples that night. And for willingly submitting Yourself to Your Father’s will, FULLY knowing the cost.