It is 4:30 am and I’m wide awake thinking about several conversations I had yesterday with both friends and foes. How did Jesus do it? I can imagine him in the garden talking with his Father, expressing his discouragement, disappointment, confusion and hurt.
“Father, I have been obedient in every way and have poured my life out into these 12 men. I don’t understand. Peter is so impulsive, always acting before thinking and denial awaits him. How can he deny me whom he named Messiah? And what about James and John? They think it’s all about power and position. Haven’t they seen me at work? Haven’t they seen how I serve, not govern? Then there’s Thomas. Always doubting, never fully believing. Andrew and the others are so quiet. Every once in a while they show a glimmer of hope but then they pretty much follow suit with the others. Finally, there’s Judas. He has betrayed me. Me, his friend for these last three years! I simply don’t understand and now I am at the darkest hour I have yet known asking that if there be any to let this cup pass then let it be.”
At this point I can picture Jesus entering into reflective silence and the words of his mother Mary come to him,
My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever. (Luke 1:46–55 NRSV)
In that dark moment Jesus recalls the lessons he learned from his mother. In everything, great and terrible, my soul glorifies the LORD and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. To glorify the LORD and rejoice in God. Yes, glorify and rejoice.
The LORD is not blind and he sees the true nature of each person’s heart and intentions. Yes, the LORD is mindful of those who humbly serve. Yes, glorify and rejoice.
The Mighty One has indeed done great things and holy is his name. Jesus quickly recalls the miracles, the epiphanies, the questions, the conversations and the conversions. Great things indeed. Yes, glorify and rejoice.
Great things indeed. The proud have been scattered and will not ultimately prevail against the servant of the LORD. Yes, glorify and rejoice.
God is making changes at the political level that will leave the world puzzling for all time – rulers brought down and the humble lifted up. Nothing that is is guaranteed unless God says so. Yes, glorify and rejoice.
More than once did the Mighty One feed the hungry masses and disappoint the rich. That the hungry are filled with good things is a sign of kingdom righteousness. That the rich are sent away empty is a sign of the danger of the love of money. God keeps his eyes on the poor, the widow, the orphan and the alien. Yes, glorify and rejoice.
God’s faithfulness has never ceased from the time of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He has helped his people through difficulties and disobedience and will continue to be present and faithful. Yes, glorify and rejoice.
Finally, one last word comes to Jesus’ mind in that second that seems to linger for eternity,
Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word. (Luke 1:38 NRSV)
And so, Jesus ends his prayer in the garden by saying, “Nevertheless, not my will but yours.”
Perhaps it was these same words of Mary that inspired Jesus to say,
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:11-12 NIV)
So, when we’re hurt, disappointed, betrayed, confused and experiencing our own Garden of Gethsemane perhaps these words of Mary the Mother of Jesus can encourage us. Yes, glorify and rejoice.