I got this art print a few years ago at a church rummage sale. I do not know the artist or the age of this framed print. If I had to guess, I would say it is about as old as I am.
This is Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before he gave his life in atonement for our sins. In the right background are Peter, James, and John, unable to stay awake to watch and pray – their spirits are willing but their bodies are weak. (The second photo is of my friend Steve kneeling and praying where Jesus knelt and prayed.)
I had been watching for a piece like this ever since I returned from my trip to Israel in 2015, because my visit to the Garden of Gethsemane had been so meaningful. The first devotional that I wrote for "The Upper Room" was about my experience at Gethsemane:
It had been a long, cold, and wet day of touring in Israel. We were jostled by the crowds at the Church of the Nativity. We shivered in the cold and looked for shelter from the wind in a shepherd’s field east of Bethlehem. We climbed a steep and muddy hill to see Herod’s fortress of Herodion. And now we navigated Jerusalem’s rush hour traffic to arrive at the Mount of Olives and visit the Garden of Gethsemane.
As I knelt and prayed with my hand on the rock where Jesus had knelt and prayed, my mind went back to Nazareth, where we had been the day before. For the first time I realized how much Jesus is like his mother, Mary. We often think of how much Jesus is like his father, God. But in this moment I felt the power of the prayer that Jesus and Mary had prayed 50 miles and 30 years apart: “Lord God, I will do whatever you want me to do.”
Mary and Jesus did not want to do what God asked of them, but they did it anyway. God asks us to give ourselves sacrificially and we often lack the “want to.” It helps me to be in communion with others who share this struggle, and it brings me comfort to know that Jesus was following the example of his mother that night in Gethsemane.
And here we are again doing what we have to do – not what we want to do.
Lord, give us the strength we need to do what we must do and, if it is possible, help us to have a good attitude in the midst of hardship. In Jesus’ name. Amen.