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Communion (1995 Series)

After the Supper, the Garden

Scheduled for March 30, Easter Sunday

Much of our thought at the time of Communion naturally goes to the scene we call the Last Supper.  This is fitting and proper, of course, but it sometimes hides from the mind’s eye the scenes which come next -- in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Although it was an agonizing experience for Him, I draw comfort from the sheer humanity of Jesus’ experience in the garden.


First, knowing that he is to face a horrible death brought on by betrayal, he goes to prayer.  He does not go alone;  he takes some of his closest friends with him.  This comforts me.  How often have I held myself to the expectation that I cannot show fear?  Especially in front of my best friends? Here, however, is the greatest of men going to face that experience, and he brings along some friends.  Were he God only, he would face this alone, I think.  That he brings friends with him in his hour of need is entirely human.  He understands me, for I too am afraid.  He feels my pain;  that comforts me.


Next, he goes to God Almighty in fervent prayer -- only to be denied three times.  Surely if there was ever a man for whom God answered prayer, it was this Jesus of Nazareth.  Now, at the greatest of trials, he asks to be released from this pain.  Not just once, but three times.  This comforts me too, for I have asked to be released from my trials and troubles -- and God has said no.  God said no to Jesus;  he knows what it’s like to ask for release and be denied.  He feels my pain;  that comforts me.


He knows too what it’s like to be let down by your best friends.  These are the people that you think you can count on in a time of trouble.  You say that you know them, and that they would do anything for you.  Here, they fall asleep as he prays.  In this darkest hour it appears to him that his best friends just don’t care what happens to him.  It is an awful blow -- and he knows what it feels like.  He feels my pain;  that comforts me.


Worse than that, he knows the sting of betrayal.  Just at the moment where loyalty would count the most, Jesus is betrayed.  Not just by Judas;  Judas we can paint as villain and therefore dismiss.  He is also betrayed by Peter.  Jesus knows the agony of betrayal at the worst moment.  He feels my pain;  that comforts me.


What comforts me most, however, is this:  he endured this pain voluntarily.  He did not have to come to us;  He did not have to go to Calvary.  He went out of love for us.  Even for the most unlovable of us, he died that we might have life.  As we take Communion, we are to examine ourselves.  That should not be easy, but should lead to repentance.  It is not easy to ask forgiveness.  But I ask it of Jesus, for he feels my pain;  that comforts me.

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