The contrast between John’s rendition of Jesus’ passion and Matthew’s is striking, and no more so than here in the Garden of Gethsemane. John, the gospel that focuses on Jesus as God, gives us a completely in control and unemotional Jesus in His last days. Matthew, the gospel that focuses on Jesus as Messiah and fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies, gives us perhaps the most intimate look at Jesus’ humanity. Tears, terror, loneliness, and sorrow are not the typical emotions we associate with Jesus the Messiah, but here they are in all their familiar glory.
Jesus is facing betrayal, denial, torture, and death, and He knows its coming. And in His humanness, He reacts much as the rest of us would. We often so focus on Jesus’ divinity that we ignore His human fear and pain. In fact, we often call fear and pain “weaknesses”. But without them, we are not fully human, for without fear and pain, we can never learn courage and endurance.
What are your fears today? What is your pain? Does it help you to know that Jesus faced these as well, and overcame them not through a divine magic but with the help of His friends (who did indeed show their weakness when they fell asleep on their terrified friend). In your fear and pain, do you follow the world’s path and try to muscle through them, tough them out, and quietly endure them alone? Or do you follow Jesus’ example and seek empathy, prayer, and community through your sisters and brothers in Christ?