Weeping with Christ—Gethsemane

The events in the life of Jesus bring meaning to the events of our own. Theologians call this Identification with Christ. I call it discoveringYour Easter I.D.

A Personal Gethsemane?

Life includes Gethsemane experiences—have you noticed? Our “Gethsemanes” are those places where our will wrestles to find its way to God’s will. As God patiently wrestled with Jacob and his will, He also wrestled with Jesus the Son of Man, his will and his request in the Garden of Gethsemane. As Adam represented mankind by wrestling his way out of the will of God through disobedience, so Jesus represented us by wrestling his way into God’s will by obedience.

Interestingly enough, God never chides Jesus for struggling in the Garden. The struggle itself wasn’t sin on Jesus’ part. It isn’t a sin to struggle if our struggle brings us closer to the perfect will of God.

Gethsemane is the place where we count the cost, where we consider what it will demand of us to go the way God is calling—all the way. We ponder, we pray. We sweat and we struggle. We weep and we wonder. We play out the scenes of what will be required of us as we follow Him.

The Stress

Gethsemane for Jesus was a place of great stress, unprecedented stress. The weight of the world was on him—literally. His shoulders were not yet bearing the Roman-made cross, but his soul surely was. Public opinion had turned hard against him. His closest friends were sleeping in the hour in which he needed them most. The surrounding community had one day called for his coronation. He knew they would soon call for his crucifixion.

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Anxiety within Jesus’ body was at a fever pitch—his pulse was racing, his heart pounding, his mind reeling. He wasn’t in the fight of his own life; he was in the fight for our lives, our souls.

So great was his stress that he said, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” (Matt. 26:38). “He began to be deeply distressed and troubled” (Mark 14:33).

Not only did Jesus take my place (and yours) on the cross, he also took our place at Gethsemane. If Calvary was the place he bore our physical pain and suffering, it seems that Gethsemane is where he bore the psychological trauma of it. Make no mistake. I was supposed to be there, and so were you.

In the Garden that dark night, Jesus had simply asked Peter, James and John to stay here and watch with him, but they did not. Had they stayed, they would have watched the tears, they would have heard the agony, they would have seen him sweat and labor on their behalf. He didn’t want them to miss this moment. It was an essential part of their Easter I.D. He wanted them to share in the his sufferings (Phil. 3:10) and to behold the depths of his struggle in order that they might perceive the depths of his love. This would give them strength in the struggles they would surely face. But they missed their opportunity; while he was laboring, they were sleeping (Mark 14:37-42).

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Robert Crosby is the co-founder of Teaming Life Conferences and Resources. He trains and consults pastors in creating teaming cultures. Crosby pastored churches in Upstate New York and Boston and conducts Teaming Church and Teaming Family conferences. He is the author of The Teaming Church: Ministry in the Age of Collaboration (Abingdon Press) and is a professor of practical theology at Southeastern University (Lakeland, Fla.). His next book, The One Jesus Loves, releases in March 2014 (Nelson Books). Contact him at [email protected]