Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”
When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.
Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”
Reading the words of Matthew 26 might be hard, because none of us want to think that we played a part in Jesus’ suffering – but we all need to face our humanness. Would we have fallen asleep (like the disciples) while Jesus was praying? Would we have denied knowing Jesus (like Peter)? It’s hard to comprehend how we would have reacted, but one thing is for sure – sin still dwells in us (the same sin that sent Jesus to the cross).
Ash Wednesday is the beginning of the Lenten Season. Today many of us will be marked with a cross of ashes, a reminder that we come from dust and will one day return to dust (adapted from Genesis 3:19).
As we begin our Journey to the Cross, we need to remember the significance of these ashes. The origin of using ashes in religious ritual can be traced back to the Old Testament. For example, the prophet Daniel called out to God to rescue Israel, “I turned to the Lord God, pleading in earnest prayer, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes” (Daniel 9:3).
Lent is simply a time for us to improve our relationship with God. Let’s use this holy season for prayer, reflection, repentance, turning away from our sins, recommitment, and celebration.
Let the journey begin ...
PREPARING OUR HEARTS: Meditate on the words of Psalm 139:23 – 24, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Are your sins or weaknesses caused by pride, envy, impatience, self indulgence, arrogance, lack of discipline, prejudice, contempt, cruelty, or dishonesty? This week take time to reflect on the things that you feel come between you and God.
In the Grip of Grace -
God’s Peace, Donna Weaver