Today is Easter. All week I’ve been reflecting on something I’d seen in a different light during last Sunday’s lesson. I teach the 9 and 10 year-olds…I swear they feed me more than I could ever attempt to feed them.
Anyway, the topic was on Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection. Much of what we explored as a class was found in Matthew 26. We talked about how the Savior’s sacrifice in the Garden of Gethsemene wasn’t just about atoning for the “bad” or sinful things we end up doing here on Earth, but about our sadness, our disappointments, and the things that make our hearts feel heavy.
How He didn’t just take on our sins, but our sorrows.
What struck me was that Jesus was already beginning to get “hit” with this sorrow, this heaviness of heart, even before He knelt in the Garden…right as He and a few of His disciples entered Gethsemene and were conversing.
He felt our heartbreaks coming.
And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. (Matthew 26:37-38)
His heart was already breaking before He left His friends to kneel down. Sorrow (depression, sadness, ALL of those mortal feelings of despair) were coursing through Him so powerfully He felt as though He would die…or perhaps wanted to. He asked His disciples, “watch with me”.. I think because He knew He’d be needing emotional support.
And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. (vs. 39)
I picture in my mind’s eye a man so burdened with torturous depression and emotional heaviness that He all but made it to His chosen place to pray before He literally collapsed.
He knew who He was and He knew why He was there. Yet, the first thing He uttered was something along the lines of, “If possible, please take this away.” He qualified that plea with, “Not my will but thine,” yet His sorrow and grief seemed to initially overshadow the feelings of purpose and hope He carried upon entering that Garden.
Depression tends to do that.
Part of that crippling sorrow had to be intense loneliness. He was not only feeling a withdrawal of Divine Assistance, but the mortal kind. Three times He came back to His disciples, each time finding them asleep. I’ve been thinking this week that maybe He came back to them, in between agonizing stretches, to “regroup”…to get a “charge” from their companionship.
To make sure they had His back.
And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? (vs. 40)
It made me think of the times in my life when I “slept” through the Savior coming towards me. Those times when I really had no clue of the magnitude of this sacrifice. Oblivious to the fact that He’d already carried and paid for the things I was struggling with.
This Garden experience, and that of the cross, were definitely not His only sorrowful and heartbreaking times while walking this Earth as a mortal. The atoning sacrificial act was not His first taste of depression. I find solace in that, even though it makes me sad to think of Him in emotional pain.
Jesus knew what it meant to be depressed. Not just blues and disappointment, but the kind of crippling depression where you feel you cannot go forward…”even unto death.”
I long to be the kind of disciple that, though tired, watches with Him because we have become One. That Oneness is the best healer of depression there is.
I should know.