Blood, Sweat and Tears
The prelude to Easter
by Brian Radcliffe
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To encourage us to consider how to face the big issues in life.
Preparation and materials
- Accounts of the events in the Garden of Gethsemane are found in Matthew 26.36-46 and Luke 22.39-46.
- Life can present us with some difficult choices. Sometimes, we know that the moment of choice is coming, such as when we need to choose subject options, colleges and universities. At other times, the moment of choice creeps up on us or suddenly surprises us. It may require a sacrifice on our part, such as breaking up a relationship or stopping an activity that we love. Sometimes, we can make the choice quickly and easily, but at other times, the possible outcomes are equally balanced. At that point, we’re facing what’s called a dilemma: we want both options or neither of them.
- The Bible describes how Jesus faced such a dilemma just before the first Easter. He was faced with two choices: he could confront the authorities in Jerusalem, knowing that he would be tortured and face a long, painful death, or he could retreat from the confrontation, continue his life as an itinerant preacher and teacher and possibly survive into old age.
It would be easier, and less painful, to take the second option, but the purpose of his life and the future of the world depended on him taking the first option. How could he decide?
- The first thing that Jesus did was to find somewhere away from the noise so that he could think things over. He went to a grove of olive trees on the outskirts of the city of Jerusalem, a place called Gethsemane. Jesus asked most of his friends and supporters to wait a little distance away, to give him some space, but invited three of them to come into the grove with him for moral support. However, they weren’t much help because they ended up falling asleep, probably as a result of the big meal that they’d just eaten.
Next, Jesus tussled with his dilemma, arguing with God, his father, ‘Isn’t there another way? Don’t make me drink this cup of agony.’ In the end, he concluded that what he wanted wasn’t as important as what God wanted. Jesus decided to do it God’s way so that the whole world could benefit from his own sacrificial death. It wasn’t easy. The Bible tells us that Jesus sweated blood, and I’m sure that there were a few tears.
Christians believe that the decision that Jesus made in this olive grove was the most important decision ever made in the history of the human race. This is because Jesus’ death and subsequent resurrection demonstrated God’s power over death and evil.
Time for reflection
Thankfully, none of us is likely to be faced with a decision of that magnitude. However, the methods that Jesus used to tackle his dilemma still hold good for us today.
First, Jesus found a quiet space in which to face his dilemma. He removed himself from the demands and advice of those around him. In coming to a decision, it’s a good idea to find somewhere quiet.
Second, he invited three companions to join him in the olive grove. They weren’t there to advise or act as a sounding board. Instead, their role was simply to stand alongside him and give him moral support. It’s a good idea to let a few close friends know what we are tackling. Hopefully, they’ll be more dependable than Jesus’ friends, though!
Third, we must remember to weigh up all of the pros and cons of a dilemma, leaving nothing out. We need to consider not only how our decision might affect ourselves, but also its potential impact on our family and friends, our community, even the world (if only in some small way). We need to argue it out, maybe even out loud. Sometimes, voicing what we feel can clarify matters.
Finally, we shouldn’t consider only the potential immediate benefits, we should look beyond today into the rest of our lives. We have long lives ahead of us, so let’s open up our options and look at the big picture.
Christians believe that Jesus made the right decision, painful though it became. They believe that our world would not be the same if Jesus had taken the easier, less painful way out. Hopefully, as we face our dilemmas, we’ll discover that our decisions are also ones that benefit everyone.
Ask the students to take the following steps to explore some of the dilemmas that are facing people in the world today.
- Look at a news channel or website.
- Identify three stories where people are facing a dilemma.
- Write a list of the pros and cons that are involved in each dilemma.
- What would their decision be?