Holy Week Devotions: Jesus Carries the Burden

36 Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and agitated. 38 Then he said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me.” 39 And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.” 40 Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “So, could you not stay awake with me one hour? 41 Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial;[e] the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 Again he went away for the second time and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” 43 Again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44 So leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words. 45 Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.”

You had one job. one. To stay awake! Thats what I see every-time i read this scripture. Here is Jesus at the precipice of the most painful and arduous task in his Earthly ministry and all i ask for my friends to stay awake with me in this final free moment! This passage often brings up two distinct thoughts in my Holy Week devotionals: The weight of the moment for Jesus, and yet again the way the disciples still hadn’t quite come to terms with the coming events that Jesus had been preparing them for. Or maybe they were all just too emotionally exhausted?

In this scripture we see the weight of the coming trial such that Jesus asks for the cup to be, “passed” to someone else. Have you ever undertaken something so difficult that you wished with all your might that you could hand it to someone else? Or get out of it? Some may read this as Jesus trying to “get out of it,” but look at what he says each time he prays. “Not my will, but thy will be done.” He never loses sight of the fact that GOD’s will is first and foremost on his mind. In that sense, this moment really becomes about Jesus expressing the weight of the moment, a weight so heavy that you have no choice but to go to God in prayer. At that moment I would want to be surrounded by my father and friends too! So when Jesus comes back from praying and sees them sleeping, I can imagine the double hurt. however he doesn’t do what I would do and wake them up by coughing loud, stomping my feet, or some other passive aggressive way to saying “this is my moment get up!” He instead, lets them sleep and goes back for more prayer. I find this deeply touching and reminiscent of God’s grace to us. I imagine coming to terms, however slowly, with the finality of your friends life would take a lot out of you. They have not only been told that Jesus will be killed, that one of them would betray him, and even Peter deny him, but that it will be happening soon. That kind of emotional stress would take a lot out of you. I can also imagine Jesus heart sinking when he sees this and instead goes back to prayer. In some ways the final moment’s burden begins there. I can feel Jesus’ heart sinking in disappointment at not being able to spend his last free moments with his dear loved ones. All the while, i have to imagine, understanding their need for rest Just as he confesses his human sides strain at this final task.

We are all going through a lot in our lives and are trying to stay afloat ourselves. We often don’t understand the burdens those around us are carrying as we attend to our own needs. If I were to pull anything out of this passage, it would be that in my daily interacts, I have a heart like Jesus. To weather the storms around my and still have the capacity to care for and see the burdens of others along with their needs. That I can give my concerns to God in the midst of my trials and never lose my love for others. In this powerful way Jesus shows us that our burdens are not a pie. Yes, I mean that, not a pie. Our ability to deal with the world around us is not a limited resources. With God, ALL things are possible and caring for self does not take a slice out of the pie leaving less for others. With God our resources are limitless. Maybe a better way to say it is our capacity is greater than we will allow. Either way, as you go through your day today, let us do what Christ did. Let’s be honest with the weight of our burdens and tell God all about it. In your prayer name what is troubling you openly and honestly. Even when friends all around you may not see your struggle and stay awake for you, let God be your ever present friend. Just because your friends may be going through their own trials doesn’t mean they don’t care for you. While they may not give you what you want the way you want it when you want it, God is always there. It doen’t necessarily mean they don’t care! Remember Peter takes an ear in defense of Jesus in the next few verses!

When you pray, remember Jesus burden along with your own and that of your friends and community. It helps to put in context the world around you and better position you to bring God into all of it. Even the simple act of naming the challenge can be a source of strength, because when you name it out loud, the cup that was holding all this pain and grief becomes a little bit lighter. a little more empty. That is where we can fill that empty space with God’s love and grace. Now that can prepare you for anything.

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