Last night during Bible Circle we read Mark 14 and 15 and then passed a talking stone to share what stood out to us. A lot of us noticed the disciples leaving Jesus. Or the loneliness of Jesus in those hours leading up to his death—he faced his accusers alone, he was alone when he was whipped and mocked. Where was everyone? Why did they sleep when he asked them to pray?
He told Peter, James, and John, “I am so sad that I feel as if I am dying. Stay here and keep awake with me.” Mark 14:34 (CEV)
I feel that I have felt that kind of sadness before. I have been so sad that I wondered if I would die from it. And whatever it is that I felt, I’m sure Jesus felt it more. We find it hard to offer one another companionship in that kind of sadness. We find it hard to sit and wait. Perhaps we would rather come to our own defense (“I will never betray you!”) or offer solutions.
I thought about how Jesus says of Mary Magdalene, “She who has been forgiven much, loves much.” Mary had sat in that kind of lonely sadness before. She had no delusions that it would not find her, or that bad things wouldn’t happen to them all. And being loved in her own sadness, called out of her lonely sadness by Jesus gave her the strength to stay: to watch his death, care for his body, and show up at his tomb. Maybe Peter, James, and John just hadn’t been tested enough yet.
They would be, and later, that same ability shows up in them.
And there Jesus was, steadfast in love while they all fumbled, chopped people’s ears off, ran away, swore they didn’t know him. He remained in love. They couldn’t take that away from him, though they stripped him of dignity and life.
I find it so hard to keep my own brain from looping into a poor-me story. Sad and abandoned, lonely and misunderstood. Even in my beautiful, abundant, untouched-by-violence life, I find this hard. I feel the strength of what Jesus did, remaining in love, not blaming, not resisting. I want to lean into him in this moment. Allowing, accepting, being ready for the road God gave him to travel. I want to be like that. I also want to learn from him to sit with others in their sadness.
My heart is heavy with his death and his loneliness. And the Father in that moment bore deep and heavy suffering as well. The suffering of the Son, the grief of the Father. The love between them in that moment. For what? For a new creation of reconciliation, oneness between God and humanity.
At the end of the discussion last night, we remembered that this story would be the worst ever if not for the resurrection. Jesus endured for the joy set before him. I am about as crappy in centering myself, feeling badly for myself, and being defensive, as any of the disciples were. And yet we all are loved into a new reconciliation, a connectedness that contains a million seeds of possibility- things God and we can do and be together because of this suffering.
What a day. A hard, horrifying, sad, good day.