Gethsemane

Maybe Mary’s view of Mark 14: 32-46.

Andrea Mantegna’s Agony in the Garden, circa 1460.

Where is he taking us at this time of night, she wondered as she picked up her shawl and followed the men out into the darkness. Moving slowly, partly because of the darkness and partly so as not to collide with each other, the small band of brothers and sisters made their way to the edge of town. It was hard enough to see in the streets, but at least there was the occasional glow from a window to help them.

Once outside the town, the road they were on was pitch black, with not a light. Yet even in this darkness, their leader seemed to know exactly where he was going and was sure footed, never missing a step or turning an ankle on the rough road they were following.

After walking for about half an hour, a break in the clouds let a few rays of moonlight through, and in a few more minutes, just as they approached a junction with a narrow barely seen path off the main road, they found their way lit by bright moonlight. Mary Magdalene breathed a sigh of relief recognising the road to Bethany as the moon lit their way. Just as her steps became surer, now that she could see better, she was surprised to see their leader turn off of the main highway down the side track. Trailing at the back of the group, she followed Jesus into a garden. ‘Where are we’ she asked James. ‘Gethsemane, I think’.

Jesus, after having a few words with his brothers, went deeper into the garden on his own. As the men settled down to wait for his return, Mary had a feeling that something wasn’t quite right. It was hard to see everyone, but she became convinced someone was missing.

A little later, Jesus came back and finding some of his disciples asleep he woke Simon-Peter and spoke to him in an annoyed tone of voice. Mary couldn’t hear what was said but guessed Jesus was chastising Simon for going to sleep, not keeping watch. A moment later, he was off again to pray, Mary assumed, on his own.

Mary moved closer to the group and noticing they seemed to be nodding off to sleep again, she dared to step softly among them at the same time drawing her shawl closer around herself as if it would hide her if they chanced to wake.

Hearing a small sound Mary looked up and, making out the again returning figure of Jesus in the night, she sunk down to sit by the nearest tree hoping not to be noticed. Again he confronted Simon-Peter, not just annoyed but now angry that he had let the disciples fall asleep a second time. His shouting at Simon-Peter had roused them all, and to a man they had all stood up to see what the commotion was. As they did so Mary realised that Judas Iscariot was missing from their company.

Jesus left them for the third time that night and when he came back again, to find them asleep yet again, he just said, in a resigned tone of voice, “Are you still sleeping and resting”. “It doesn’t matter now, it is time Here comes Judas”. Mary and the disciples looked around in confusion, seeing and hearing nothing for a few moments.

Seconds later Mary saw a glimmer of light, a burning torch seen flashing and fading as it was carried past the trees along the path toward them. As it approached other flaming torches appeared following it, seen before being heard the sound of footsteps became louder. Mary quickly realised that the approaching footsteps were not just a mob but some were stepping in time; a of a troop of soldiers marching.

The soldiers held their distance a little. It seemed they were only there to make sure there wasn’t too much trouble. Other than standing up to see what was happening, Mary stayed quite still in the shadows, watching.

She saw the mob carrying the swords and clubs surrounded Jesus, then from out of the darkness behind the mob stepped Judas. The mob parted for Judas as he walked up to Jesus. Mary wasn’t sure but Judas seemed to keep his head lowered, his eyes not meeting those of Jesus, and he said just one word, ‘Rabbi’. A moment later Mary watched him kiss Jesus then turn away, disappearing back into the mob. That kiss had evidently been a signal because the last thing Mary saw of Jesus that night, was him being arrested and dragged roughly away.

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