Matthew 26:14 - 27:66
"My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch with me." (Matthew 26:38)
With Holy Week starting, we are invited to reflect on Christ’s suffering. While the physical cruelty of the scourging, carrying the cross, and crucifixion cause me to wince at pains that I can only imagine, the Agony in the Garden is the part of the Passion that pierces my heart the most.
We have all experienced emotional pain, so it can be easier to relate to what Jesus is facing. It’s inspiring to know that the Lord did not guard himself from these hard emotions and that no part of the human experience was below him.
This passage can also remind us that the Lord did not just suffer bodily. His pain did not start when they dragged him to be judged by the high priest. At Gethsemane, he suffered the anticipatory grief of his own death.
Our brains do not often know the difference between physical and emotional pain, which is why emotions hurt us. Jesus knew that not only would one close friend betray him for money, but that the rest of them would desert him. You can imagine that coming back to find them asleep was just a final feeling of betrayal when he had communicated what he needed, but they were unable to sit with him.
Why this strikes me so much is that I have been on both sides of this interaction. I have been the disciple unable to fulfill his request because I tried to depend on myself instead of spending time with him. I have also been like Jesus, going through something hard and just need someone with me. And sometimes the people in my life just cannot be there for me. Not because they don’t want to, they just can’t be what I need at that moment. It’s those moments that I have felt closest to God because he is always there to be by my side.
So as I think about how the Passion is meant to redeem the pains caused by our brokenness, I can see that that includes emotional pain. Because Jesus became the bridge back to the Father, we can know that emotional suffering, while still here, does not have to be done alone. Either God surrounds us with the people we need or he takes that space to help redeem those moments of pain.