Thursday after the Second Sunday in Lent
And he came the third time, and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come; the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.” Mark 14: 41-42
Was it so much to ask that the disciples sit and watch? No wonder on finding them asleep the third time, Jesus is disgusted with them. Given the heaviness of fear, trepidation and terror that weigh so heavily upon him, at best all the disciples could offer Jesus in these hours is their presence. None of them is equipped with an experience of life that could offer guidance, wisdom, even consolation to Jesus. Their very presence is all they have. And that is something each of them – each of us – can offer in times of deepest distress. Be aware of the pain that others bear that you can never know. We know from sitting by the bed of a sick child; waiting with a friend for the results of a critical lab test; holding a deathbed vigil. Oddly, families visiting prisoners on the day of execution are permitted relatively short visits. But the disciples have failed to offer Jesus what they could – the comfort of their presence. And now it is too late. The moment has urgently come upon them all. There is no need to counsel the disciples any further. Jesus must be sick with anxiety and fear, yet he resolutely faces squarely what comes next. “Let us be going.” What might the disciples have experienced in waiting with Jesus? How powerful an experience to be in Jesus’ and God’s presence on this terrible night! What revelation of God did they miss that enabled Jesus to face his betrayer, one of his very own, into the hands of his enemies, and what would follow? Mark’s spare and direct account captures the depth and breadth of the terror, betrayal and regret of this moment. Have mercy on us, God, have mercy.
The Rev. Jo Ann B. Jones
Church of the Redeemer, Bryn Mawr