My thoughts turn to the garden today…not the one outside my back door this time but the one where Jesus agonised before he was taken away. I keep coming back to a sense of isolation – his sense of ‘being left’. The disciples had previously stated, very adamantly, that they would never disown him, but they are about to. In a sense, the desertion starts when they fall asleep. We are told that their ‘eyes are heavy’ – certainly who wouldn’t be tired with all that has been going on? Yet this is the time their friend, the one they call master asks them to ‘keep watch with me’ (Matt 26:38) Not offhandedly either – he tells them ‘my soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death’.
It’s not as if they don’t know his state of mind. How hurt and isolated do we feel when we confide our pain in someone else…and they are unresponsive? When we tell someone the enormity of a burden we carry and then they ‘switch off’ to it moments later? The text doesn’t tell us much about the disciples’ state of mind – the focus is on the anguished prayer of Jesus. Three times he prays to his father, three times he finds his friends asleep. And then it is time – he is seized, and the ‘disciples all deserted him and fled’ (Matt 26:56).
And the darkest, loneliest part of the journey begins.