Thursday, March 24, 2016
A Comforter in the Garden
"Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me;
nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.
Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him.
And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly.
Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground."
I was sitting in my garden, enjoying the sounds of the birds and admiring the beauty of the flowers blooming on this lovely spring day, when suddenly it hit me: Today is Maundy Thursday...the day Christians remember that this was the day that our Lord went to the Garden of Gethsemane on the night He was betrayed...the night before His crucifixion and death. It was in the garden that the Bible tells us He prayed to His Father, pleading if it were possible to "take this cup away from Me"...meaning the cup of His sacrifice of His life for the sins of the world...knowing that He would actually become sin for us, so that we would no longer be lost in our sins. The Bible tells us that Jesus was actually in agony, so much so that "His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground."
In Luke's Gospel quoted above, we are told that "an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him."
I had never noticed this particular passage until this past Sunday when we read it in our Bible Study time. It truly touched my heart to think that our Lord was suffering so greatly that God the Father actually sent an angel to comfort Him and give Him strength for the horrendous journey ahead.
As I was writing this just now a friend called me and asked me to pray for her daughter. We've been praying for this dear one for quite a while. She's been going through some very difficult surgeries and has a serious bacterial infection right now. As I spoke with this distraught mother, I visualized this angel comforting Jesus in the garden...and I reminded my friend of this story as she had also been here with us on Sunday when we discovered this verse in our time of worship and Bible study. We both were comforted as we thought about the angel comforting Jesus...and realized that God sends His angels to comfort us during times of distress as well. The angel may come in the form of a friend who is there to pray or lend a helping hand. Or perhaps a word of scripture that gives hope and encouragement at just the right moment...much like this one.
I don't know about you, but I find this so comforting. Jesus was not alone in the Garden of Gethsemane, even though His disciples had fallen asleep just a stone's throw away when He had asked them to watch and pray with Him. God the Father saw His Son's agony and sent an angel to minister to Him. God sees our agony and sends His angels to comfort us...just when we need it most.
My garden above is a special place set aside in our yard to honor the memory of our son, who died in May of 2014. I love to sit there and pray and think about God's mercy and grace. Even though our son died after a long battle with cancer, God did not leave us comfortless. He sent His angels to minister to us throughout that long ordeal...and His Holy Spirit is always with us to comfort us during our times of grief.
Maybe there are some of you who need these words of comfort today. Perhaps you are in your own kind of "Garden of Gethsemane"... and this picture of Jesus being strengthened by the angel might give you hope. I hope so.
Remember...even though things may look dark today...Sunday is coming...Easter day! The day we celebrate Christ's resurrection from the dead...the day He burst forth from the tomb victorious over death to give us life everlasting! So...no matter how bleak things may appear today...we have this hope in Christ Jesus! Victory is on the horizon!