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The Scriptural Way of the Cross: Station 1

December 18, 2012

I’m in the process of writing meditations on each of the scriptural stations of the cross, which will hopefully be available before Lent 2013.  In that series, the first station is “Jesus Praying in he Garden of Gethsemane.”  In each of the meditations, I’ll try to combine my concern for the peace of Jerusalem with what I saw and photographed there.  The first (very rough) draft of the first station is below.

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The night of his arrest, Jesus walked down the hillside to the bottom of the Kidron Valley, then  climbed again to an olive grove on the Mount of Olives.  We know from scripture that he struggled in prayer there, before finally, painfully, affirming to God, Our Father, that “Not my will but thine be done.”
     When you go there now, and stand or kneel  in the shade of olive trees that are old enough to have been there at the time of Christ, you realize that Jesus had choices.  From that garden of olives, you can see the city of Jerusalem directly across from you.  The soldiers sent after him would have come with torches and tumult, and they too had to both descend and ascend the mountainous terrain.  They would have been obvious to the small band on the Mount of Olives.  The soldiers and those with them didn’t sneak up on Jesus; even in the night, they could have been seen a long way off.
     As he looked across at the ones sent to arrest him making their way down into the valley, Jesus knew that all he had to do to avoid this was to slip quietly over the mount and into the wilderness.  He could have run, or hid.  The soldiers would have searched for Him in vain.
     Instead he stayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, praying from the painful depths of his being that he would stay unswervingly in the will of God even though it meant shame, torture, and death.  Something beyond His own life kept him there.
     It is not easy to persevere in a hard way—to look ahead and see nothing but pain and despair—and still to continue on in prayer, believing against reason that God sees a way ahead that we do not see.  It is hard to trust that God’s will reflects a love that is equally beyond our knowledge, but the Word made flesh in that Garden stands with us as we pray.
     Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
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