Come with me for a moment, back in time, to witness what was perhaps the foggiest night in all human history. The scene is very simple; you should recognize it immediately. A grove of twisted olive trees. Ground cluttered with large rocks. A low stone fence. A dark, dark night.
Now, look into the picture. Look closely through the shadowy foliage. See that person? See that solitary figure? What is he doing? He is flat on the ground. His face is stained with dirt and tears. His fists are pounding the hard earth. His eyes are wide as He contemplates what is to come. His hair is matted with salty sweat. Is that blood you see on his forehead?
That is Jesus and He is in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Maybe you’ve seen the classic portrait of Christ in the garden. Kneeling beside a big rock. Snow-white robe. Hands peacefully folded in prayer. A look of serenity on his face. Halo over his head. A spotlight from heaven illuminating his golden-brown hair.
I don’t claim to be an artist, but I can tell you one thing – the man who painted that picture didn’t use the gospel of Mark as his source. When Mark wrote about that painful night, he used phrases like:
“Horror and dismay came over him.”
“My heart is ready to break with grief.”
“He went a little forward and threw himself on the ground.”
Does this look like the picture of a saintly Jesus resting in the palm of God’s hand? Hardly. Mark used black paint to describe this scene.
Here we see an agonizing, straining, and struggling Jesus. We see a “man of sorrows.” (Isaiah 53:3) We see a man fighting fear, wrestling with commitment, and yearning for relief.
We see Jesus in the fog of a broken heart. The writer of Hebrews would later pen this:
Hebrews 5:7 “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death.”
In this portrait, Jesus is in extreme pain. Jesus is cloaked, not in sainthood, but in raw humanity.
The next time the fog finds you, you might do well to remember Jesus in the garden.
The next time you think that no one understands, read the fourteenth chapter of Mark again.
The next time your self-pity convinces you that no one cares, pay a visit to Gethsemane.
The next time you wonder if God really perceives the pain that prevails on this dusty planet, listen to Him pleading among the twisted trees.
The next time you are called to suffer, pay attention. It may be the closest you’ll ever get to God.
Watch closely. It could very well be that the hand that extends itself to lead you out of the fog is a pierced one.