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Lent is a time for Christians to fully examine their relationship with the Lord. Through prayer, sacrifice and service, we develop an understanding of what it means to "take up your cross and follow me." (Mark 8:34) As Christians, we are called to live Christ's life- not to study the life of Jesus and try to be like Him, but actually let Him live through us.

In my own journey this Lent, Our Lord is asking me to fully understand His love. Through several prayer experiences, I hear him calling me to this deeper understanding of His love- not just with my head, but with my heart. And the key to understanding that amazing love is to understand His suffering. My intellect understands that the Lord suffered, but I have never explored His suffering with my heart. His love is greater than His suffering, but how great was that suffering?

I am participating in an independent Threshold Bible Study called People of the Passion by Stephen J. Binz. In this study, I will explore the meaning of discipleship through the people who encounter Jesus during His passion. These people witness and are impacted by the suffering of Jesus. They saw the suffering of our Lord first hand. It is my hope that by going on this journey through their eyes, I will have a better understanding of His suffering and then of His love.

Please know that I am not a scholar. I have no formal education in theology, philosophy or church history. I'm just a regular person trying to make sense of what Jesus is asking me to do- to love like He loves.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Day 8- Peter, James and John Accompany Jesus to Gethsemane

Mark 14:32-42

Then they came to a place named Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, "Sit here while I pray." He took with him Peter, James, and John, and began to be troubled and distressed. Then he said to them, "My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch." He advanced a little and fell to the ground and prayed that if it were possible the hour might pass by him; he said, "Abba, Father, 12 all things are possible to you. Take this cup away from me, but not what I will but what you will." When he returned he found them asleep. He said to Peter, "Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? 13 Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak." Withdrawing again, he prayed, saying the same thing. Then he returned once more and found them asleep, for they could not keep their eyes open and did not know what to answer him. He returned a third time and said to them, "Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough. The hour has come. Behold, the Son of Man is to be handed over to sinners. Get up, let us go. See, my betrayer is at hand."

I have been thinking a lot about the garden lately.  It's a hard thing for me to understand.  What was Jesus agonizing about?  What was hurting his soul to the point of sweating blood?  He knew what was going to happen to him.  He knew that they were coming to arrest him.  He knew his life was only worth 30 pieces of silver to one of his closest disciples.  He knew they would put him on trial and find a law that he "broke".  He knew they would spit on him and ridicule him.  He knew that his friends would flee in the face of his suffering. He knew they would beat him almost to death.  He knew he would barely be able to carry the cross to Calvary.  He knew they would nail him to it.  He knew that upon that cross, he would suffocate.  He knew his mother was going to witness every moment of it.  He knew the unbelievable pain of that day.  He knew.  And his flesh feared it.  His heart broke for it.  But his love won.  His love is bigger than his flesh.  His love for us is bigger than we can understand.  He knew that too.  Maybe that is why he was sweating blood.  Because we don't understand.

We are the sleeping disciples.  I relate so well to Peter because I struggle with the same concepts he struggled with.  Had I been there and Jesus told me that he was going to die, then I would have devised a plan to stop the whole thing.  Peter would have been my right hand man.  I would not have understood what was going on or what had to happen.  I would not have understood why it had to happen.  The reality of that day would not have been real to me until it was actually happening.  And I am sure I would have ran.  I am not good at facing that kind of suffering.  I am a coward.

I know the Lord wants me to meet Him in the garden on holy Thursday.  He wants me to understand the suffering he endured.  Because once I understand that suffering, then I will be able to wrap my brain and heart around His amazing love.  Maybe that is the lesson Peter ultimately learned- what true love is.  The thing that hurts the most is the role my sin plays in this event.  Jesus suffered like this so that He may know me- so that he may pay the fine to free me from death row and take me home.  Watching the Lord I love suffer because of my sin will be heartbreaking.  It's a journey I am not sure I am ready to make.  O Mary, Mother of God, pray for me!

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