Somewhere in the city of Jerusalem, Jesus was in an upper room with His closest friends. It was a feast. It was a joyful occasion for all the Jews. Jesus, though, began to be sorrowful and troubled.
Sorrow and trouble can come in any number of ways. It might be bad news from the doctor. It might be financial. It could be what the mechanic tells you. It could touch upon your relationships. It could be guilt. It could be consequences for doing wrong … or maybe even for doing right. It could be death.
This was the night that Jesus gathered up all our sorrows and troubles, to resolve them all in Himself. So we watch and pray at all times, and in this season of Lent. We watch against our sin and against temptation. We keep watch in a troubled world. We watch the Lord Jesus on His way, and consider all that came upon Him. It came to Him, because He takes our side against sin and death, the devil and hell. He begins to tell us His sorrow and trouble with the words: Truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.
Later that night, He came down from the city, and into the valley — where they threw out all the idols and the rubble from the altars of all the high places that Israel built in their unfaithfulness. Jesus comes to resolve it all in Himself. He walked the way that David, the true King walked before, when he fled before a rebellious son, who wanted to rule in his place; like Caiaphas and the scribes and chief priests and teachers of the Law … and like us, who want to be lords for ourselves. Jesus comes to resolve it all Himself.
He walked over the brook that ran red with the blood of the temple sacrifices. Those sacrifices could never cleanse our conscience from guilt and blame. He will have to resolve it Himself. He went out to the Mount of Olives, on the way of the scapegoat. Year after year, the scapegoat carried the guilt of all the people into the wilderness, as if to wait for Someone to come and resolve it all Himself.
Jesus goes to the peaceful olive grove, which was known to Him and all His disciples. Even the one that betrayed Him. He goes there to watch and pray, and to wait for them to come for Him.
What an honor, to watch and pray with Him. How necessary, and how blessed, to participate with Him in His watchfulness and His prayers. How much richer our celebration of Easter will be, when we see the depth of His sorrow and suffering for us, and how it resolves itself in His victory over sin and death. So much He offers to us and gives us with His words: “Stay… and keep watch with Me.”