He knows joy to be his destiny.
The night hangs around him damply. The myrtle trees are heavy with their fragrance. Sweat and tears blend on his tongue to season his whispered prayers. Gath-Šmânê, garden of the olive press, is silent witness to the crushing of the Son of God.
Strong fingers claw the earth. His head shakes insistently. ‘Avvon d-bish-maiya … Avvon, Avvon.’ Father in heaven, Father, Father.
He knows joy to be his destiny. But he cannot find it.
Before him are two doors. Seated between them, smug on the pivot of the dilemma, is the mocker. ‘Which is your way, princeling? Let me help you.’
He opens one a crack. Laughter drifts out. A party with dear friends. Back slapping and breaking of bread. Now there are crowds, listening in rapt attention. A hundred leaping cripples. Love, fellowship, healing, blessing. Surely this is the door to joy?
The door slams shut and the blanket of night instantly smothers the sound. Silence reverberates blackly.
The mocker smirks, ‘Or consider the alternative.’ He opens the other door. A deeper darkness creeps through; a chill spreads. Evil stalks out, invisible, yet tangible. Pain lurks beyond, Abandonment, too. A world of hatred funnelled onto the point of a nail.
The Son prostrates himself in the dirt. ‘Kee im hal-tzaynu min harah.’ Deliver me from evil. Again and again the words: muttered, whispered, groaned, shouted. Pleading for another way. Balling up his love and courage in one hand, and weighing it against his purity in the other.
He knows joy to be his destiny. But it is slipping from his grasp.
Finally, his tears subside, replaced by the bold whisper of submission, ‘Ye-asseh retzoncha.’ Your will be done.
The mocker watches, frigidly.
The Son looks up at last, lifting his earth-soiled face to the deep darkness still spewing from the open door. Obeying an unspoken command, he staggers to his feet, steps forward, peers into the abyss. For a long time, the darkness bites unrelentingly. He continues to watch.
Finally – a glimmer! A shard of light cuts through the darkness from deeper recesses behind. He leans forward, straining to see into that sliver.
Suddenly, the light breaks through. A kaleidoscope of images tumble towards him. Creation, groaning no longer, restored and made new. Millions of faces, lives made whole. The smile of the Father, delighted with his obedient son. The victory parade in heaven; leading the hostages home. The songs of the angels.
Too late, the mocker sees the danger. He slams the door shut. Night envelops the garden again. But the Son embraces the darkness.
The garden is silent once more, the myrtle trees heavy with fragrance. The Son, the soldiers, the betrayer, all departed. In breathless hush it waits, as it has for centuries. But the waiting is almost over. The Son of God has chosen the bleak grey path to joy.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12v2
During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Hebrews 5v7
Quotations taken from the New International Version
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