It was just before the Passover. Jesus celebrated a somewhat emotional & confusing Last Supper with His disciples. After feet had been washed, Judas bolted & the meal had been eaten, they sang a hymn. I wonder if this was joyful, bittersweet or merely a function of devotion to God? Jesus then led His disciples out to the Garden of Gethsemane. It had been a long night & everyone was already exhausted.
In Matthew 26:31-46, Jesus is described as being sorrowful. We know from the other synoptic gospels that this included falling down to the ground, crying out to God & sweating drops of blood. But I'd like to look at the moments leading up to that... The garden is on the Mount of Olives & it appears to be about 1/4 mile from Jerusalem proper. That's not a terribly long way to walk, but it's also uphill. I imagine the walk only exacerbated Jesus' anxiety about the events of the days ahead. Think of how YOU would feel after an emotional evening... You're walking in the darkness with a crowd of people you call your friends, but you know they don't get it. Its all shadows & torchlights up the hill. The air is cool & dewy. The guys are yawning out loud, walking slowly, wondering what the heck Jesus is up to now. Is He just being eccentric? They stop & Jesus tells some of them to wait there. He motions for Peter, James & John to come with Him as he walks a little further.
I wonder what His face looked like when He finally turned around & told them He was "Sorrowful, even unto death". He asked them to keep watch with Him & pray. They tried, but quickly fell asleep. I think of how moonlight & shadows can distort someone's features... I wonder if the disciples could even tell that Jesus was distraught? Did He have tears in His eyes? Was His voice trembling at all? Jesus seemed to say & do a great many things the disciples didn't understand right away. Maybe He was trembling because it was cold out there. Perhaps they couldn't see the tears welling up. Maybe they just took it for granted that He was feeling emotional & wanted to pray. Afterall, Jesus was no stranger to going off by Himself & praying in the evening after long days of ministering. Perhaps it was normal for the disciples to go with Him & sleep while He did His thing. But on this night, He told Peter, James & John that He was sorrowful for a reason. He kept coming back to check on them & found them sleeping. Imagine this feeling of abandonment coupled with intense sorrow... His disciples took Him for granted that night & no doubt regretted it.