Sleep is an amazing thing. If you can get any, it brings rest and recuperation from the stresses of life, yet it is the stress of life that often denies us the sleep. The more we try to sleep, the more we stay awake and, as in our reading, the more the disciples try to stay awake, the more they sleep.
Clearly Jesus cannot sleep as the enormity of what is about to happen has just hit him like a sledgehammer! We as humans can understand his reluctance to face what is to come, yet we as humans can but marvel at his complete and utter obedience to follow his Father’s will.
The disciples, exhausted from the day’s events so far, struggle to comprehend the magnitude of Jesus’ words and cannot stay awake. The image we see is of the three disciples intertwined with Jesus, their bodies indicating that they are in this together – yet Jesus is facing upwards, praying to his Father while the disciples are at his feet, sleeping. A shaft of light highlights the night time scene, but even this is not enough to wake them.
We too, often miss the story of the Garden. We go from the Last Supper to the Cross and miss the bit in between. We are so eager to pass by the horror of Good Friday, that we forget the night of Maundy Thursday and the battle that Jesus faced.
May we, this Lent, pause, and reflect on whether we could stay awake in the face of such a task, and let us spend time in the garden, hard as it may be, to offer our complete obedience to God in all we do.
(Picture He Qi, Praying at Gethsemane)