Lets go to the garden this morning. Jesus is there with His disciples. Can you hear their conversations? Can you see the love between these friends? Jesus knows the time is near. For Him this must be a bittersweet moment of His journey.
There is one who is missing, but is about to interrupt the conversations in the garden. Oh that Judas. Jesus loved him so. The thing that gets me is the fact that Jesus knew when He chose Judas that he would in the end turn against him. But, even though he knew, don't you think, He still held out hope?
See, before their time in the garden, they shared dinner. Jesus sat with Judas and Peter too, breaking bread. A treasured moment between friends. A moment that Jesus knew was bittersweet. Even though Jesus knew what was about to happen, He still broke bread with these men He loved. He didn't allow their sin to overshadow the love He held for them. How many times do we a persons sins to keep us from breaking bread with them? Too many times. Where is grace in our life?
I can't tell you how many times I have walked away from someone who has hurt me, afraid the hurt will cut again, but Jesus doesn't do that here. He even sees the hurt coming, but He chooses love over distance. He chooses forgiveness before the act. Jesus carries within Him a hope everlasting.
Praise Jesus, I am a work in progress. He hasn't given up on me and isn't going to any time soon. Sweet hope. I'm not that girl walking in the garden about to turn Him in, but are my sins really any different? My sins still bring shame to the One who stands for me.
Just makes me wonder how many times in my daily walk how far I really do walk away from Him instead of toward Him. How is it that I point out my Savior? Oh how sweet to walk side by side, but there are days I don't. I see His path before me and I choose to walk a different one. One that suits me for the time being. But there is Jesus. I hear Him calling. "Daughter, no. Don't go that way. Please...come with Me".
What do you think was going through the mind of Judas on this day? Do you think he was hearing the voice of God telling him no? We often wonder why others do the things they do. We see the wrong choice and try to discern the why, but all along we are forgetting our own steps are way off from the path that is chosen for us. But then again, there is that loving Savior waiting. Calling. Forgiving.
I'm sure Judas was forgiven before he ever pressed his lips against the cheek of Christ. But see, that's the kind of God we serve. He is filled with mercy and grace. The same mercy and grace we are to behold. "The traitor, Judas, had given them a prearranged signal: You will know which one to arrest when I greet him with a kiss." Mark 14:44
What I see in this whole picture is something I have been missing all along. Jesus is here with the others. Judas comes with the soldiers. Many. We are not just talking a few police. We are talking a hillside covered with armed men. What did they expect? The thing that gets me is the fact that Judas had to point out who Jesus was. Could they not tell a difference? Did they not know which One was the Savior of the world? Jesus was unknown to most. But the moment that came when Judas kissed Him, something changed. At that moment they all knew. They all bowed to the Savior. This is one of those moments where I want to stand and shout!
But there is more. When Judas kisses Christ, what happens next blows my mind. It's the unexpected. His disciples leave Him. I would have thought they would have stayed to fight for the One who loved them so. The One about to give all. His life for theirs. So the questions comes to my heart sharp as a knife. Would I have stayed? Would I have ran as fast as I could? "Then all His disciples deserted Him and ran away." Mark 14:50
Jesus has dinner with His friends and then He prays with them. Jesus says, "My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with Me." Mark 14:34 Oh, how many times have I caused Jesus grief? It's easy to look here at these who are close to Him and see the wrongs in their choices. But what about my own?
These men let Him down. They couldn't even stay awake long enough to watch over Jesus while He prayed. Have you been there? Have you heard Jesus calling you to move on His behalf and you just abandon Him? I certainly have. He has asked me to move and I have stood there in my selfishness and fear and simply said, no, not me. My prayer life needs strengthened. Oh, how sweet it is to raise from spending time in prayer with Christ.
I need to travel to the garden more often. I need to spend some time there letting go and raising my hands in praise for all He has done for me. I need to remember all that Jesus went through for me. I need to remember what led to the cross and all it held and what it holds no more! Each story. Each moment holds such tender life lessons for us. Jesus didn't pick perfect men to follow Him. He knew their lives. He knew the men He needed for the journey. He chose men we could relate to. He chose men willing to be His vessels. He didn't need perfection. He needed opportunity coming to life.
Friends, He is calling us. How long has it been for you since you have visited the garden? He is calling us to stand with Him. To be in prayer and to be His hands and feet to a world in need of love. He is calling us to live in hope. Don't forget the garden and all it holds. Take time and go there. Jesus is waiting to spend time with you today and fill you with an everlasting hope.
"All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by His great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance-an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by His power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see."
1 Peter 1:3-5
"But I will hope continually, and will praise You yet more and more."
Psalm 71: 14