Excerpt from In The Flesh – My Story: The first-person novel of Jesus:
Despite my dear friends standing with me for the moment—despite knowing my heavenly Father and blessed Spirit were present and within me, and our angelic multitudes close by, I suddenly felt so totally alone. This horrible sense of isolation nearly collapsed me. Empty and exposed, I felt increasingly separated from all semblance of earthly peace and love.
Before my companions could voice their uneasiness over my appearance and behavior, I turned abruptly to them and said,
“My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and watch with me.” Mark 14:34 (ESV)
“Anything, Lord,” replied James, his own voice quivering with remorse. “We will do whatever you say.”
I motioned to the olive tree we were under, cloaked in darkness. “Stay and watch,” I said again. “Pray.”
They slowly sat in the grass against the enormously rugged trunk. I remained standing and turned to face a sudden gust of air that revived the rustling of branches through the garden. My eyes narrowed as I perceived the faint black outline of several large rocks at the base of a small slope, a natural grotto nestled between trees.
I started for it.
John leaned forward to rise, but Peter held him back, sensing I sought solitude to pray with my Father. He was right. With fear swelling to the verge of delirium, I staggered across the path, descended the grassy gradient and soon reached the hollow of rocks. My knees finally gave way. I sank to the ground and leaned forward, resting my elbows on a protrusion of stone. My hands clasped together, and I placed my forehead upon them.
I knew with certainty what loomed this very night. I had known for quite a while. Finally here at this precipice of unimaginable suffering, my humanity longed for my Father to find another way. Throughout my life on earth, I had always sought my Father’s guidance with humble joy. Tonight, however, like so many afflicted souls every night, I prayed with desperate passion.
“Father,” I invoked, squirming with anguish. “My heavenly Father, I know that all things are possible with you. My heart is burdened beyond words at what lies before me. Evil approaches even as I pray to you. No time remains—my hour has come. Only you can find a way. If it is possible … allow this cup to pass by me. I cannot bear to taste its poison.” I peered reluctantly over my knuckles, up to the olive branches swaying spectrally in the distilled moonlight. My resolute whisper ascended with the breeze, “Your will though, not mine, be done.” Luke 22:42 (ESV)
It was the fragment of prayer I had taught so early in my ministry — your kingdom shall come; your will shall be done.
My Father’s will is perfect. It shall be done.
My head lowered again, this time all the way to the cool, hard surface of the rock. I kept it there to sooth my hot forehead. Sweat continued dripping from my face as blood rapidly pulsed through my galloping heart … blood that would soon be shed for the world.
I desperately needed to focus on the main objective—love. My all-encompassing love would see me through this passion, this torture of body and soul.
Love for God’s purpose.
Love for my children.
Love for you.
I raised my head from the rock and warily stood. My own words came swimming back to me, my Father acutely reminding me of my own convictions. No one takes my life from me. I give it up freely for the life of the world.
Fear still gripped every fiber of my being, but my knees seemed stronger now. I looked up once more to the peaceful hints of moonlight filtering through the tree canopies. Was this my last quiet view of all that was good on the earth? How I wished I could just close my eyes and stand there all night, chin tilted to the tranquil sky, listening to the sounds of silence, interrupted only by God’s gentle breath upon my face. But it was time.
My hour of suffering was upon me.
Dear Jesus, in your darkest hour here on earth, you sought your heavenly Father. Despite feeling unloved, isolated and terrified, you knew He was with you. Rather than demand deliverance, you pursued His will, aware that in spite of your suffering, triumph was inevitable through His guidance. Help me to find the same faith and fortitude you had in Gethsemane when I face trials and tribulations … to focus on God’s will over my own hardships.
This devotion is an excerpt from In The Flesh – My Story: The first-person novel of Jesus by Michael Gabriele. Copyright © 2017. Used with permission.