“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.” (Matthew 26:36)
We’ve often overlooked this story — of how one Man spent his last few hours in a Garden called Surrender.
This is the Garden where the most excruciating battle was fought one solitary night; his blood dripping like sweats on the cold stony ground.
He knew what’d lay ahead of him — the thorny crown they’d press against his head, the scourging with lead-tipped whip that’d rip open his bruised, bloody back.
He foresaw it all; the coming torture, the mocking ridicule, the insult, the outright denial, even His very own crucifixion — yet He also knew how the hope of all humanity would delicately hung on the balance of His surrendered givenness.
He did this willingly unto God. Yet, He did this for us.
His surrender was a culmination of His slow, steady obedience. It was one faithful step at a time, one wholehearted trust each single way.
When you think about it, you can’t help but realise: it was Jesus’ meekness to His Father that placed Him there, but it was His love for us that kept Him there.
In agony He pleaded: “take this cup away from me”. His plea was precious, every denial of his own will perfected his own call to surrender deeper. And you can see the whole skewed world tilting closer to God’s perfect will as He gave and gave.
He wouldn’t budge from the love He was to give — this was the life He’d come to live —so He prayed: “not my will, but Yours be done.”
It’s true — every surrender is always a Cross — an intersection of two desires —- a battle between what one wants and what He wills.
The Garden saw it all — the climax of His stress and sorrow, His tears and fears.
“My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch” (Mark 14:34)
He was alone and forsaken, abandoned and rejected .
He was denied not only by the band of men He’d loved, but also from the bond with the Father He’d known.
The angels were gone. The Father had turned His face. The air was fetid with the stench of death.
‘Gethsemane’ —- not the place you would want to be, not when it means “oil press.”
Like how you’d press the olives three times till they are pulverised to fragments, so was Christ strenuously pressed til His life could flow and we would fill; and we are given a lifeline, a reason for living, a joy beyond tomorrow, eternity beyond the grave.
His surrendered moment became our significant movement.
His sacrifice was a mystery revealed, a prophesy fulfilled, a revelation of love so complete, so consistent, so unconditional.
The First Man whose fall occurred in a garden incurred a Final Man to redeem fallen humanity through another garden.
Gethsemane — that was where it all first happened.
His victory at Calvary was first and foremost a triumph beneath those gnarled olive trees.
On the ground of that Garden where sorrow and suffering was unknown by heavens and humanity, love was making the impossible passable.
He bled love into our languish, so we can be rescued from all our poor, paltry and pandemic places, so we can forever hope from our sin, our sad, our self.
Who’d know that our redemption was first wrought in His rejection, our triumph in His deathly tragedy, that today no matter what is standing against us, His love hangs like a banner over us.
His surrender turns victory for us, no matter our past, our mistake, our shortcoming.
Your turn, Friends:
We are the beloved, redeemed and restored because of His sweet and sacrificial surrender. What about you? What gets you up and going in the morning and closing the night with a smile knowing you are truly loved, deeply accepted, wholly received?