By The Rt. Rev. Pierre Whalon
God allows Moses a glimpse of the Promised Land, from east to west and north to south. Then despite his good health at his very advanced age, he dies and the Lord buries him. It is a poignant moment of a relationship that began back in Egypt, with his faithful mother serving as his nurse. Moses was alone with God at the Burning Bush, on the height of Sinai, and in the Tent of Meeting. Now he dies with God seemingly at his side, and God alone buries his body in a place only God knows.
Luke 22 is an amazingly rich passage, with much material for prayer and meditation. Like Moses, Jesus is finally alone with God, in the garden. While Moses seems serene, Jesus is tormented by the knowledge of his impending rejection and death. One textual variant records that he was so overwhelmed that the capillaries on his face burst from blood pressure and clots of blood fell off him onto the ground, a rare but medically plausible condition.
Throughout the chapter Jesus keeps pointing ahead. He will drink wine again only when the Kingdom has come; there the Twelve shall sit on thrones; Peter will recover his faith after his betrayal, but “alas for Judas”; the Son of Man will come in glory. The contrast between his confidence with others and his private agony is striking.
How do you envisage your death? Are you serene about being dead one day (as opposed to the process of dying)? Why, or why not?
Do you think Jesus is being hypocritical with his public confidence and private agony? What does it remind you of in your own life?
Lord Jesus, I am so grateful that you were willing to stoop down to my level and suffer what I must endure. Always give me that faith which will allow me to trust in you, even when I am being torn apart by suffering and doubt, especially at the hour of my death. This I ask for the sake of the Love you have shown for me and for all people. Amen.
The Rt. Rev Pierre Whalon is Bishop of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe