After they had eaten the Passover meal, he led the disciples out and took them to a place called Gethsemane, and asked them to remain with him and keep watch while he prayed.
The thing about that Passover night was that nobody knew what was coming. It’s easy to think of the eyes of Jerusalem as being turned to that garden in the foothills of the city, but they weren’t. To the rest of Jerusalem, that night held a different kind of significance. It was the night when they commemorated God’s great mercy in sparing the lives of their firstborn sons. It was the festival. Jerusalem and her people were celebrating. How many of them gave a thought to a man in agony, a man who just a few days earlier they had hailed as the Messiah? Not many.
Last night in Glasgow, people were out celebrating too. After the Passover meal, the body of Christ, human and lonely and mortal, is taken to the garden amidst the cries of his people. My God, my God, why have you foresaken me. And as we listen to those cries and hear those old familiar words of the final betrayal, we hear too the noises of traffic and people and music coming in from Great Western Road. Away from Gethsemane, it is the start of a four day weekend and life goes on as usual. Just as it did then.
Every year during the Watch, sometime between eleven and midnight, I think about leaving. It’s cold in my spot on the ground, I’ve lost all of the feeling in my legs, and I’m going to be back in ten hours. It would be so easy to get up, to join those people outside or seek the comfort of my warm bed and a hot cup of tea. But I stay. In the end, it’s not so easy to walk out. I’ve eaten the Passover. I’ve destroyed the temple. I’ve gone with him to the garden, just as he asked, and lain there with tears and sweat staining my face and my glasses pressed into the cold tile. And having done all that, it’s as if I’m compelled to see it through to the end.
To the final betrayal, when they come with swords and sticks to arrest him, and, in his worst hour, we all leave him and run away.