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Lent - Day 20

Day 20  Friday


That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ (1 John 1: 3).


Mark 14: 32-42
And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.” And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy, and they did not know what to answer him. And he came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”


As Thursday night wore on, the feast was over and Jesus went out to pray. There his passion began. First the titanic struggle with the repulsion for the hours ahead. The horror of the physical torture. The shame of the mockery and false accusations. The sting of derision from a crowd that had only days earlier adored him. But worst of all, the bearing of sin. The reception of the wrath of his Father against the evil of the human race. Being cut off from any awareness of the Presence that was his very heartbeat. The sense of displeasing the Father he loved and served with his whole being. The becoming sin. Utter dereliction. Sorrow to the depths of his soul. Jesus struggled to say, “Yes” to the will of God. In those moments, he needed his disciples. He yearned for the companionship of their presence, to feel as if they were with him.  
Note again what he asked from them: Sit here. Remain here. Watch. Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation.
Note again how they responded: He found them sleeping. Their eyes were very heavy. They did not know what to answer him. 
The moment was too much. We know well how hard it is to keep watch, to be vigilantly attentive, to one who is suffering without relief. By a hospital bed. Knocking on the door to break the news of a suicide. Listening on the phone to the story of break up by betrayal. Watching an adult child make a destructive choice and being helpless to stop it. It can all be so overwhelming that we just can’t stay with it. Our heads are so heavy we nearly fall over. We do not know how to answer the need of the moment.
All Jesus wanted was the companionship of those who stayed with him. Our hearts break to know we could not give it to him in his supreme solitary struggle.


Lord Jesus, what happened to me?
When you needed me, actually needed something from me,
I fell asleep.
The darkness thick like a curtain.
The air was so heavy, it pushed me down.
I saw you go to the ground.
You didn’t look like my Jesus.
All of a sudden, the rabbi I loved
“Had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
And no beauty that we should desire him.”
I felt goaded to despise you, to hide my face from the sight of you.
I fought against the feeling,
But you looked like a beaten man who needs a kick.
“Feeble and crushed,” like one who deserved it.
I knew better but I could not move toward you,
Could not fight the sleep,
Could not stave off my failure in your hour of need. 
You were the sin-bearer, and 
I could take no part of it, even if I wanted to, which I didn’t.
You were alone as you had to be,
And it stabs me to the heart to know my part in your lonely hell.
These are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name (John 20: 31).


In The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis created the great Lion Aslan as an allegory for Jesus. In chapter 14, Lewis describes how Aslan walked dejectedly toward the Stone Table to give himself as a sacrifice for the boy Edmund’s betrayal. Two other children, Lucy and Susan, followed at a distance, until Aslan noticed them. He asked them,
“Oh children, children, why are you following me?”
“Please, may we come with you—wherever you’re going?” said Susan.
“I should be glad of company tonight. Yes, you may come, if you will promise to stop when I tell you, and after that leave me to go on alone.”
“Oh, thank you, thank you. And we will,” said the two girls.
Forward they went again and one of the girls walked on each side of the Lion. But how slowly he walked! And his great, royal head drooped so that his nose nearly touched the grass. Presently he stumbled and gave a low moan.
"Aslan! Dear Aslan!” said Lucy, “what is wrong? Can’t you tell us?” “Are you ill, dear Aslan?” asked Susan.
“No,” said Aslan. “I am sad and lonely. Lay your hands on my mane so that I can feel you are there and let us walk like that.”
So the two girls bury their hands in his thick mane and walk with Aslan, keeping company with him as long as possible.
Compare and contrast this scene with Jesus and his disciples in Gethsemane.


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