We settled into the Garden of Gethsemane as Jesus walked further in to pray. I felt somewhat relieved that we were outside the city wall of Jerusalem, away from the religious rulers and their antagonistic attitudes. With a busy week and now the late hour, we all tried to follow His advice to “keep watch”, but sleep overtook us.
I felt the thump of marching feet and then heard voices. When I opened my eyes, shadowy lantern light flickered this way and that across the twisted branches of the olive trees in the garden. I poked Thomas and Nathaniel as I jumped up.
It looked like a huge crowd coming up the path with torches and the sound of swords clanging against each other. Terrified, we pushed back into the bushes. Then we heard Jesus voice, speaking to Peter, James, and John.
“Look the hour is near, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us go! Here comes my betrayer!” Matthew 26:45-46
We pushed deeper into the bushes. The entourage of Temple guards and religious leaders stopped when Jesus called out,
“Who is it you want?”
“Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied.
“I am he,” Jesus said. John 18:4-5
It was then that I saw Judas was with them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus asked him,
“Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” Luke 22:48
The soldiers stepped forward and arrested Jesus. Some kind of skirmish ensued. It sounded like Peter’s voice and Jesus rebuking him. Before we could understand what was going on they left with Jesus.
We were speechless and totally lacking courage as we sat hunkered down in the bushes.
The other disciples slowly emerged from their hiding places and I did a head count—only nine of us. Peter and John were missing—and of course, Judas. We wandered back to Jerusalem, slipping around in the shadows of the night.
Early in the morning, we heard voices that grew into a crowd. Pulling our cloak hoods over our heads, we slipped out, blending into the crowd. Pilate stepped out on a portico asking questions of the religious leaders.
What does Pilate have to do with anything? I wondered. As things escalated and the leaders began stirring up the crowd, I soon realized why they had Pilate involved. Only he could hand Jesus over to be crucified. How could it have come to this?
I saw John across the way, his arm around Mary, Jesus’ mother. Some of the other women stood with her, hearing the insults of the leaders and the crowd.
The next time they brought Jesus out, he had been flogged. His face was bloodied by a crown of sorts with thorns sticking into his head. I felt sick. There I was lost in the crowd, doing nothing to help him. We all retreated to the upper room, stunned and frightened.
Later, Peter came in, looking pale. “They’ve done it,” he said. “Crucifixion.” He stumbled to a corner of the room and broke down in uncontrollable tears. My heart felt as if would break in two. What were we to do without Him?
~ Joyce ~