“The Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” John 18:4
Gardens play an interesting role in Scripture. It was in the first garden that the first humans has a comfortable existence with God. And it was in that same garden that the temper drew them away from God. They hid from him, and we are still hiding today.
“We are all hiding. Hiding is what we do. We hide from everyone – from strangers, from those we love. We hide from ourselves; we hide from God. We fabricate a facade of goodness or beauty, humor or intelligence. We spend countless dollars and incalculable hours sprucing up these false fig-leaf identities. We want to look good and fool our neighbors. We cower behind bushes of prosperity; we clothe ourselves with our good deeds, one-upmanship, and name-dropping. We are none of us consistently authentic.”
Move forward, or back, to another garden. The hour is approaching when Jesus would be brought before a court and sentenced to death. He was in prayer and alone. His friends couldn’t even pray with him. Judas, the betrayer, has brought a small army to arrest Jesus. And he went to them. His disciples were too afraid and would respond with violence, but Jesus went saying, “Let these men go…”
“Every one of them was filled with fear. They feared that they would lose the respect and position they had banked on, that they would suffer shame. They were terrified that they might lose their lives. They had loved listening to his teaching about laying down their lives for others, but they weren’t ready yet to follow him. They loved themselves more than they loved him, and so they were filled with fear. And yet he guarded them.”
“Even though his friends weren’t worthy of his protection, of his sacrifice for them, he was determined. “Take me. let them go.” That’s been his theme throughout all eternity. “Take me. Punish me. Let them go.” His love for us is our guarantee that we’ll make it all the way to heaven.”
“He sees your heart today. He knows what you fear and how you continue to try to take matters into your own hands and protect yourself. He sees when you cut off your enemy’s ear, as Peter did, lashing out at those who threaten you, seeking to hurt them before they can hurt you. He sees you flee naked into the night, hoping to hide yourself from failure, censure, disgrace, judgment… He knows when you fear the doctor’s reports and try to ignore his voice speaking deeply, comfortingly to you. And yet he interposes himself between you and your enemies simply because he is determined not to lose one of those precious ones his Father has given to him.”
“Draw near to him today, won’t you? He’ll cover you with his strong arms and keep your soul safe. Don’t hide; don’t try to cover up. Just come as you are and thank him for his courageous love.”
Lenten devotion from Comforts from the Cross by Elyse Fitzpatrick. Day 24.