Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’ He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and agitated. Then he said to them, ‘I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me.’ And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.’ (Matthew 26.36-39)
It is in these moments that we see Jesus in all his humanity. ‘…if it is possible.. .’ How often have I wanted the cup to pass me by, to not have to do what I most fear, that will be so costly. But I cannot avoid it – well, only by running away from my responsibilities. Jesus has nowhere to run.
There will be those this evening facing a cup from which they would rather not drink. Jesus is with them in their agony because as the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews tells us
Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested. (Hebrews 2.18)
Be present, O merciful God,
and protect us through the silent hours of this night,
so that we who are wearied
by the changes and chances of this fleeting world,
may rest upon your eternal changelessness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.