Meditation on the Agony in the Garden

Richard Salbato

Before Each Hail Mary

1. Finishing up on the preliminary meal of Passover, Christ had started the institution of the Eternal Sacrifice by changing bread and wine into His body and blood. In the quiet of the night could be heard the bleating of the Lambs, being herded into corrals for the coming sacrifice of the lambs.  But the meal could not be over until the fourth cup of wine was taken.  Until then the sacrifice continued.  Christ deliberately delayed the end of the meal because it would end on the cross.  “I will not drink from the fruit of the vine (wine) again until I drink it with you in my kingdom.”  He then left the upper room without finishing the feast.  

2. He went into a garden of olive trees called Gethsemani and told his followers to wait there while He prayed.  He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, James and John.  Falling to His face on the ground He said, “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”  When Jesus uses the word, cup, He is referring to the fourth and final cup of the Passover meal. Jesus is talking about His creation of the new and everlasting covenant, the Eternal Sacrifice prophesied in Daniel, the Mass.

3. Throughout the night Christ prayed and suffered the greatest mental suffering of all time because His divinity could see the future suffering of the coming day and His humanity feared it. His divinity could see that He would pay the price of all sins and open the gates to Heaven and His Kingdom on earth.  His divinity could see the multitude of saints that would follow Him and do His will, but His humanity saw the billions of people who would reject His sacrifice and refuse to allow the grace to reach them.  What caused blood to flow right through His skin was the thought of so many people, who would take His body and blood into their sin-filled souls.  He contemplated those who would twist His commandments to fit their own wants and they would pretend to be His people but are not.

4. Three times he went to Peter, James and John, asking them to pray with him, but they could not stay awake.  Finally He said, “Rise up! It is time. The one who has betrayed Me is here.”  Judas Iscariot came with a large crowd of chief priests, Scribes, Pharisees, and their private army.  These were not Roman sentries but Jewish temple guards.  “Whom do you seek?” said Jesus.  “Jesus of Nazareth!” said the Scribes.  “I am He!” said Jesus.  At the words, “I AM”, which is the unspoken name of God, the entire crowd fell to the ground as if an invisible hand had paralyzed them.

5. When they were able to rise up again, Judas kissed Christ and this was his signal to the sentries that they had the right person.  Earlier in the evening Christ had told Peter that there would come a time when they should sell their coat and buy a sword. Peter, thinking this was the time, pulled out his sword and cut off the ear of a servant of the High Priest.  “Put up your sword, Peter.  Shall I not drink the cup that My Father has given me?” Christ put his hand on the man’s ear and cured him.

6.  They took hold of Jesus and bound Him with four long straps held by four sentries.  They attempted to arrest Peter, James and John, but they escaped. One sentry grabbed hold of John’s linen cloth but John pulled out of it and ran away naked.  John ran away to inform the Virgin Mary of what had taken place.  Peter hid but followed Christ to see what would happen.  James went down and told the other Apostles.

7. Judas Iscariot, seeing that they were going to kill Jesus, ran back to the leading Scribes and Pharisees and caste the 30 pieces of silver they had given him on the floor. “I have betrayed an innocent man!” , he shouted.  But it did not move the elders, who were set on killing the Christ.  Judas went out and hung himself with a halter from a horse.  The elders took the silver and bought a potter’s field, called Haceldama, meaning “field of blood”.  (Zach. 11:12)

8. Secretly they took Jesus to the court of Caiphas, the high priest. Peter followed far behind so that they could not see him. Witnesses came forth to accuse Jesus of blasphemy and one said, “This man said he could destroy this temple and rebuilt it in three days.”  Caiphas asked, “By the living God, are you the Christ, the Son of God?”

“You have said it” said Jesus. “Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of the power of God, and coming in the clouds of heaven.”

Ciaphas ripped his garments, saying, “He has blasphemed.  He is guilty of death.”  They spit in his face and struck him with the palms of their hands.

9.  Peter hid outside the court trying to find out what was happening.  A servant maid, said to him, “Were you not with Jesus?”  But Peter denied knowing him.  He went out the gate and another maid saw him. “This man was also with Jesus.”  Again Peter denied with an oath that he knew not the man. A third time they asked him if he was one of Christ’s followers.  This time Peter cursed and swore that he knew not the man.  At that moment the cock crowed and Peter remembered what Jesus had said to him:  “Before the cock crows you will deny me three times.”  Peter wept bitterly.

10.  The Jews could not legally sentence a man to death, so they took Him before the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate.  Because Pilate’s wife had warned him not to judge Jesus, Pilate tried to convince the Scribes and Pharisees that he should not be punished and offered to release a notorious rebel that even the Scribes hated, named Barabbas, or to release Jesus.  But the Scribes and Pharisees said, “Free Barabbas and crucify Jesus.”  Pilot wanted nothing to do with crucifying Jesus so he washed his hands and said, “I am innocent of the blood of this just man, look to it yourself.”  And all the people said in one voice, “His blood be upon us and upon our children forever.”