I spent my late teens in the Garden of Gethsemane. I’ll probably revisit it in another twenty years for a midlife crisis. The Garden of Gethsemane is where I brought every idea of what my life should be like, then stared dumbfounded as they were dashed to pieces in front of me. The Garden of Gethsemane is where I came to the painful realization that my life was not turning out according to plan.
I think that’s what it’s there for. It forces us to be honest about our weakness.
Peter wandered into Gethsemane with hopes of steadfastness, promises to never abandon, let alone deny his Lord. He came with a sword, ready to cut ears off for Jesus. Before the rooster crowed, that all fell apart.
Judas came with schemes to profit. By the end of the weekend, he died broke and alone.
Mark showed up just not wanting to do anything stupid to embarrass himself. He accidently ran away naked.
All of the disciples entered Gethsemane with zeal and daydreams of God’s wonderful plan for their lives. They were ready to seize every great thing they were sure He had planned. Then they all fell asleep. Twice.
The Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. The Garden of Gethsemane is where we find that out. We all show up with the idea that God has a wonderful plan for our lives. Some of us even know the bible verse, Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” The problem is, God and I have different ideas of what that plan should be. Welcome to Gethsemane.
If you’ve been to the garden before, you can probably think back when you were young and idealistic, when you had hopes of changing the world, not just surviving it. Maybe you have souvenirs from your last visit that look like the crumpled up drawings of what you wanted to be when you grew up. Maybe you still have the scars you got there called your first marriage.
The Garden of Gethsemane is the place where God shows us what He means when He tells us He has plans for us. That’s exactly what He did for the disciples. Each one of them came in with the certainty that theirs was the right path. They were sure they figured out the divine plan for them to succeed. Each of them failed.
But none of them came to the garden alone. Jesus was there all along, praying through sweat and tears of blood. “Thy will be done.” God’s will is done in Gethsemane. It always is.
The good and gracious will of God is done even without our prayer, but we pray in this petition that it may be done among us also.
God’s will is done among the disciples. He wakes everyone up. He allows Himself to be betrayed by Judas’ kiss, stays Peter’s sword, and declares Himself the one sinners seek. It floors us that God’s plan is the cross.
God’s will is done among us also. The Garden of Gethsemane isn’t where God walks me from where I am to where I want to be. It’s where my quest for power like Peter, love of money like Judas, sheer stupidity in the face of reality like Mark, and laziness like all the sleeping disciples are dragged called exactly what they really are. Sin.
Yet, Jesus abides in the Garden of Gethsemane for sinners. For me, for you. For when everything falls apart, and for us who broke it. Christ willingly walked down the only path left to Him. He died for the sake of the people. He bore the cross. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.
God has a wonderful plan for your life, but you’re probably going to hate it. It’s the way of the cross. It’s stricken, smitten, and afflicted. Yet He bears it for us upon the tree. God’s plan is to redeem His people. To forgive our selfish sins that condemn us. To bear God’s wrath Himself in order to save us. He will drag us out of our sins, through Gethsemane to the cross, and all the way to the resurrection on Easter morning.
God’s will is done when He breaks and hinders every evil plan and purpose of the devil, the world, and our sinful nature, which do not want us to hallow God’s name or let His kingdom come; and when He strengthens and keeps us firm in His Word and faith until we die. This is His good and gracious will.