In the past few days on Facebook, I asked those who wanted to comment what they thought of the song “Gethsemane” in Jesus Christ Superstar and it drew a variety of responses. In my Bridges class last week I asked why the church has emphasized what happened in the Upper Room so much and downplayed comparatively what happened in Gethsemane. None of us could answer that fully.
I believe what happened in Gethsemane should be central to our understanding of Jesus and, by extension, who we are called to be. By his actions in Gethsemane, Jesus teaches us much. Among those teachings are: he saw what was to happen to him God’s will; he saw prayer as his most important thing to do with his last moments of freedom; he believed that friends should pray together, particularly in tough times; he used his last moments of freedom to stay even when he knew his life was on the line; and he spoke the truth even when it cost him when the soldiers and his betrayer came.
Could it call us all back to an appreciation of providence (even if we don’t always understand God’s will); the good that can be done by those willing to sacrifice; the central importance of prayer; and the fortitude God’s people need to have about speaking the truth in love (even when it’s uncomfortable)?
The usual path of Holy Week is to start with Palm Sunday, do a quiet nod to the Lord’s Supper on Maundy Thursday, and then get to the empty tomb and the Risen Lord.
But there is no empty tomb and Risen Lord for us except by way of Gethsemane. Let’s not skip that important stop on Jesus’ path.
All the best,