We’re in the middle of a worship series called Places of the Passion. Today we walk with Jesus to the Garden of Gethsemane. Gethsemane is where Jesus faces temptation, praying hard to discern if this is really God’s plan. Gethsemane is the place where it appears Jesus has lost control! Betrayal and an arrest and an assault and desertion—all leading to death by crucifixion. It’s a night filled with chaos.
The crowd that collects here is a crowd of Jews—the chief priests (who controlled the temple) and elders (who were rulers of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish senate of seventy). This is like the Supreme Court and Congress sending the FBI to arrest you! The chief priests and the elders want to be in control.
“Now Judas had given them a sign, saying, ‘The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.’ The chaos commences as Jesus is arrested. “And one of the disciples drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear.” More chaos!
Even though it doesn’t look like it, Jesus is in control! Judas and the Jews appear to be running things. But Jesus is really the one in control! There is order in the chaos.
When his enemies come, Jesus goes out to meet them. The control is clear!
Feeling like we have some control is essential to our mental health. During WW II, psychologists compared ground troops with fighter pilots. They determined that after sixty days of continuous combat, the anxiety of ground troops was off the charts. However, an astounding 93% of fighter pilots were happy and at peace.
We always want to be in control, in charge. Think about it: What happens when there is a backup on the interstate highway? A team of German researchers recently found that a traffic jam triples our chances of a heart attack. That makes sense because in slow traffic we lose control. We are not in charge, and it drives us nuts. It feels chaotic.
So what’s the plan when chaos hits? “Take charge! Be in control!” Use an app that helps you avoid traffic jams. Never board a plane without a parachute. Never leave the house without a gas mask. Never step on a crack lest you break your mother’s back! That’s it! Face every problem by taking control!
No matter what, we don’t have to become hopeless or anxious or faithless. We can stay calm. Why? In the midst of chaos, Jesus delivers perfect peace. Amen.