Today was a full day. Jesus returns to the holy city and has several intense interactions which become an amazing context of learning for his followers. He ends the day with a series of parables and teachings on the Mount of Olives, in proximity to Jerusalem.
“Each day Jesus was teaching at the temple, and each evening he went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives.” (Luke 21:37)
“What a day today was! It was so fun to see the Teacher leaving some of the teachers of the law and priests speechless. They came with bad intentions and it was clear that their questions were well prepared in advance. I was so nervous in the beginning, because I had no idea how Jesus was going to answer them. I was prepared to take His side and defend Him, in case He did not know what to say! Especially that one question about the taxes to Caesar. Oh, I would have jumped to their throats anyways, even for just reminding us of those barbarians enslaving us! I clenched my fist and my heart was racing in expectation of what the Teacher was going to answer them. I was ready to jump in His defence. But He responded so well! Where does He have so much wisdom from, I wonder?
These days are intense. People seem more agitated and the constant noise of the city is making people even crazier. Later in the day we left Jerusalem and went on the Mount. There, as if the day had not been long enough already, The Teacher continued to speak to us. When He used parables, I tried to focus more. I wanted to remember each word, each story. My heart is pounding, almost getting out of my chest, when He is teaching.
Then I asked Him if He wanted me to go to Bethany, to the house of Lazarus, and prepare a play to rest for the night. He was so tired, you could see it on His face. He looked even more tired than usual. I thought a good night’s sleep would do Him a lot of good. I was hoping He would appreciate my intention and even praise me before my friends, but He looked at me, with a tender and kind smile, and He asked me if I wanted to join Him in the Garden? I knew what He meant. That was “our place”. Actually, that was His place, his praying place. We liked to go accompany Him there and watch Him pray, until sleep was taking us down, one by one, as we were staying close together to keep ourselves warm through the night. Every now and then, I used to open my eyes, only to see Him there. Still. In prayer. But this time He did not seem to speak, but to listen. Someone was talking to Him and His face was so radiant! Oh, if my fisherman vocabulary had more words to describe His beauty! It seemed like He was conversing with Someone so familiar, so dear. And then I fell asleep again…what a day…what a long day…oh the dream of the warmth of a house…and freedom…a dream…”
I don’t know what Peter’s diary would have looked like if he had written his thoughts and emotions on a piece of paper. Probably they would have been intense, like him. The thoughts above are a product of imagination, but what we know for a fact is that the amount of time that Jesus spent in prayer, talking with His Father, is not a product of our imagination. He longed for intimacy with the Father! He longed for His presence!
Before starting His public ministry, before calling His disciples, during the most intense seasons of life here on earth, Jesus, the Son, spent large amounts of time with the Father. He needed this communion. He needed this joy of His presence. He knew that we know best of who we are in the presence of the One who speaks truth about us and about Himself to us.
For reflection and application:
– These days can go by so fast! We might be spending them inside during this unusual season of the Coronavirus threat, but the days are still flying way too fast. And our soul might feel rushed, not so much by our never-ending to do lists, but by the pressures we put on ourselves. A rushed soul cannot see just how blessed and loved they are! And without knowing and believing this, we cannot see how to love others better. We end up functioning out of duty, not out of love. Do you know and believe that you are loved? Is your heart vibrating when you hear this question? Is it falling on your soul like a refreshing spring rain? Spend a few times in silence. Un-rushed. Be still. Romans 5:5 tells us that, “hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” At the cross of Jesus you have the supreme proof of love. Jesus had you in His mind and heart when He was on the cross. He loved you. He loves you. Receive this truth.
– Take a few moments to observe your prayer life. When are you praying? Where are you praying? What are you praying for? For whom? How much are your prayers focused on your needs and desires and how much are they for others? Is your heart aching for those who are lost and need hope? If you don’t have a prayer list, you can start making one today. You will see how your heart will start to get attached and care in a new way for those that you are praying for. The bond of prayer covers endless distances and differences and connects the heart, because the heart of God is there, too.
The Word is not explicitly telling us what Jesus did the following day, on Wednesday, but on Thursday night, the Passover night, we find Jesus “as usual” (Luke 22:39) in the same place – in prayer in the garden. The people close to Him knew where to find Him, even His betrayer did. We can find the source of strength and hope in the same place – in prayer – the place of surrender, the place of communion, the place of love.