In a garden, dark, so late at night.
A form crouched near the ground.
Was it a felon?
I wondered at first.
But then I saw the face.
No, no! Indeed not.
The face I saw,
Was not the face of a criminal.
Feeling safer, I stepped closer,
Still staying out of sight.
I strained to hear the words falling from the quivering lips
But could only make out, “Not my will, but thine be done.”
My heart sank with a sadness I could not explain.
Why was I sad?
I didn’t even know this man!
Yet, something stirred within me so forcefully that my entire being was drawn towards him.
I stood in my place as the moments passed.
My thoughts assailed me.
Then, without a word, he got up from the rock on which he had rested.
And that’s when I saw his face.
Moist with sweat, it was streaked with blood.
Surprised, I felt compelled to ask him what decision he had to make.
It must have been an overwhelming thing, to cause a man to sweat blood and not water.
But I stayed in my hiding place.
I watched as he strode weakly, yet confidently, toward his young friends.
They were fast asleep.
All eleven of them.
I could see the pain in his eyes as he gently woke them.
“Couldn’t you pray, for even an hour?” he cried softly.
He wasn’t angry – just sad.
In a fresh burst of emotion he returned to his place by the rock.
“Father, if it is possible, please take this cup from me!”
My heart felt as though it would burst.
How much longer could I stand here and watch, without making myself known?
I decided I must go to his aid.
I must reach him, and comfort him.
I started to walk out from behind the trees and bushes.
But something stopped me.
It was like a hand firmly holding me,
It kept me from taking another step.
Someone whispered in my ear and said,
“Let it be so now, for it is necessary to fulfill all righteousness.”
My hands fell limply to my side.
I looked again near the rock, at the sorrowed man.
There was an angel by his side.
I was so torn by the sight of a man so troubled by a decision, that he needed the touch of an angel to stand.
I glanced at the place where his friends rested.
They were, again, overcome by sleep.
Gentle footsteps drew my attention back to the man,
Who seemed to be somewhat strengthened.
Arousing his friends for the second time, he looked on them with love and pity.
I could not hear all his words, but I did hear one line.
“The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
What kind of friends were these?
I thought to myself.
Could they not see the worn condition of their brother?
Or was sleep so precious that nothing else seemed to matter?
Like a bolt of lightning, I was struck by a realization.
How can I condemn, when I – well rested – may have done the same thing myself?
Rebuked, I let my pride fall away;
And listened rather daftly to the sound of marching.
If I had kept my eyes and mind fixed on the right place, I would likely have realized sooner that it was indeed marching, and not the beating of my own heart.
Suddenly the entire area was lit up with the flickering light of torches.
Priests and soldiers partially surrounded the little band of men.
My heart caught in my throat.
I wanted to run, but could not, for my legs had turned to pillars of gelatin.
The man seemed much calmer than I, as he stood and asked the visitors,
“Whom seek ye?”
The answer sent a crippling chill down my spine, as they half-barked, half-shouted,
“JESUS, of Nazareth.”
This was Jesus?
I felt my blood run cold.
Would he reveal his identity to this mob who was evidently up to no good?
In his eyes, I saw no fear.
In my heart, I felt it for him.
I watched with bated breath for his reply.
I was stunned when he said,
“I am he.”
Every part of me wanted to scream in unison.
How could he give himself away to these jealous, evil men?
A blinding flash of light interrupted my thoughts.
The next thing I knew, the entire mob was on the ground.
Had he killed them?
I waited to see.
One by one, they recovered and stood up again.
I guessed that he had only knocked them out temporarily.
Before long, they were all back on their feet.
And as if their memory had failed them, they stood speechless.
Again, he asked,
“Whom seek ye?”
And again they replied,
“JESUS, of Nazareth.”
He looked them straight in the eye.
“I already told you, that I am he. And since it is me you want, let these others go.”
I scanned the mob in wonderment.
Then I saw him.
My lips quivered in dread as he walked steadily towards the man from Nazareth.
Something was wrong.
This was one of Jesus’ friends!
What was he doing with the enemy?
His face bore a look that I could not read.
He stopped short of his master, and for a moment, he stood motionless.
Then in a flash he flung his arms around his neck.
“Hail, master” were the only words I heard.
Then he kissed him.
The mob enlivened and rushed towards the carpenter from Nazareth.
As they came, I heard the last words fall from those pale lips,
“Judas, friend – do you betray the Son of man…with a kiss?”