How could it end like this, Nic?
You ask why I am so heavy hearted? I have yet to tell you of all that happened that fateful night.
As was his want whenever we traveled back to Bethany from Jerusalem, Jesus decided to visit Gethsemane for a time of prayer. This time, however, it was different. He asked James, John and I to come with him as he prayed. Usually all of us waited a ways back while Jesus went on to pray alone. He always seemed refreshed whenever he emerged after his time there.
The three of us followed him on into the garden. He seemed troubled - distressed even. He asked us to keep watch while he went a little further and prayed, staying within our ears and eyes. We heard him ask the Father “take this cup from me” if it was within his will. After a little while I felt him shaking my shoulder and as I came out of the slumber I had fallen into, my eyes met his.
“Simon”, he said to me, “are you sleeping? Could you not keep watch for one hour?” His words carried rebuke, but his eyes held sadness, framed by love. I cannot get the image out of my mind. Everywhere I go, I see his eyes looking at me as he woke me that first time in the garden. That look haunts me.
Twice more he went back to pray, and twice more we all fell asleep only to be awakened by him. We said nothing to him. We didn’t know what to say. If only I had known that those were the last opportunities I would ever have to speak with him!
As he woke us the third time, Judas showed up with an armed crowd and servants of the chief priests. As they put their hands on Jesus to arrest him, I drew my sword and struck one of them, cutting off his ear. Jesus rebuked me strongly and ordered me to put away my sword. Then he allowed himself to be arrested. To our eternal shame, the others and I fled from him at that moment.
I secretly followed behind as they led him back into the city, to Caiphas’ house. Consumed with terror over being arrested myself, I still somehow entered the courtyard of the high priest’s home. Servants and guards stood around the fire to keep warm. I joined them, hoping to hear what was going on inside.
Soon I became aware that one of the servant girls was staring intently at me.
“You also were with Jesus of Galilee”, she said.
“I don’t know what you are talking about,” I answered nervously.
Afterwards, I moved out to the gateway. But another girl saw me and said to others standing there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.”
Again, I denied knowing him, with more force. “I don’t know the man!” I screamed at them; but now they were all looking at me and whispering. Finally, another stepped forward.
“Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.”
Once more I swore to them, “I don’t know the man!”
No sooner had the words left my mouth, Nic, than a rooster crowed off in the distance, and I remembered how just that evening I had sworn a different oath to Jesus. When he told me I would deny him three times before the rooster crowed, I promised I would die rather than ever disown him. The look of sadness was in his eyes then, too, I just didn’t recognize it at the time.
For the second time that night I fled from my master, crying uncontrollably. In the garden, with Jesus at my side, I had no fear, yet only hours later, I was reduced to a cowering, terrified creature – swearing before others that I never even knew him!
Now, they have even taken his body from us - the body that you and Joseph so lovingly prepared for burial. I feel empty and done. Like this is the end of me. Without him, there is such a void inside. He said he would come back for us, but how could I ever look him in the eye after what I’ve done? The sadness would still be there, but how could there ever be love again? He said Satan would sift me; he has and I fear there’s nothing left.
I never thought it would end like this.
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