The monastery that Thomas Merton lived at has an outdoor prayer trail marked out by small and not so small figurines and creches.
As you walk through the woods you come to three life size dark figures writhing together as a statue. As I am pondering these and thinking without a Bible to hand that there were four, Jesus and three others I actually paid better attention to these sleeping/trying to stay awake/pain filled friends. Only five minutes later when I walked on did I see the statue of Jesus writhing more than them several feet in front. For good or ill I cannot see this text without remembering my experience in the Kentucky woods.
Gethsemene means oil press. As you read this text you can almost imagine Jesus life being pressed between his Godly nature and human nature as he prepares for
what we may wrongly think is the pinnacle of his 'life' - dying on the cross. We might ponder that his subsequent journey to darkness and then his resurrection are part of this life transforming drama played out in this text.
So where are the other disciples? home complaining because they didn't get to go with Jesus? Comfortably sleeping somewhere?
Jesus is very troubled and since it had not yet happened certainly his disciples were not aware of the close timing to his actual crucifixion.
Jesus, who said, 'I have power to lay down my life and I have power to take it up' must be really encountering a new thing in these moments in the garden.
The pandemic is nothing like as amazing as what Jesus did for us but the intensity levels are some of the highest in my lifetime.
Does this squeeze that Jesus is in give you courage or hope in these days?
Three times Jesus asks the disciples, the selected three, to watch. Three times they are asleep. Then, as if the squeezing is over, even though we now know it was just beginning
Jesus gathers them for the next step in his life work of death, resurrection and life everlasting.