We dare not miss the obvious reason for [Jesus'] agony in the garden. Can we allow Jesus to be a person? What would you be feeling if you knew that within a few hours you would be tortured, publicly humiliated, subjected to one of the cruelest forms of capital punishment ever devised by human beings? .... As a person, he had good reason to feel 'deeply grieved, even to death"
Adam Hamilton, 24 Hours that Changed the World, Abingdon Press: Nashville, 2009 (Page 41)
In this passage, Adam Hamilton has attempted to answer the question of why Jesus was so anguished in the garden of Gethsemane. The season of Lent calls us to ask such questions so that we might explore the depths of Christ's sacrifice for us --not just the sacrifice on the cross but also the pain towards the cross.
Today I had lunch with a friend who has been spending much time in reflection on Jesus Christ the past few weeks. He said, "How could anyone believe that Christ was not human? Then what would have been the point of the cross? What purpose would his sufferings have served if he had not been a man who felt pain?" A recent cancer survivor, this friend has endured suffering and pain. When he talks of God, he speaks not of a bearded man who sits on a faraway cloud. The God to whom he prays is the one who has identified with the complexities of illness.
Many of us have felt physical and emotional anguish at some time in our lives. In those moments, we need a God who comes near to us in the miry clay of the world--not one who is distant. During the Lenten season, it's easier and prettier to talk about the glorious resurrection. Walking the road to Calvary is dirty, blood-splattered, and tearful. We'd rather skip the pain for the glory. But there is no glory without suffering in God's story of love.
Why was Jesus anguished? For the same reason you and I would be. And that is why we can cry out to him in our own anguish--because he knows how to comfort us in pain that he has already experienced.
Lenten grace to each of you,