February 27, 2008

Jesus Retreats Before His Last Battle

Matthew 26:36-44

?My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.?
Matthew 26:39


Jesus developed the spiritual health to face crises and normal days by practicing spiritual disciplines.

His last retreat took place as he prepared for his last battle with Satan?s forces, just as he had done before his first battle with Satan (Matthew 4:1-2). In this last retreat Jesus combined community, solitude, and prayer. He went to Gethsemane with his disciples and then retreated in solitude to pray. He returned three times for community support from his friends, who slept instead of praying with him.

What if Jesus had not retreated to pray on the night of his arrest? Perhaps he could have escaped and fled to Galilee. But he intentionally walked with friends to the Mount of Olives, where they often had gone together. That?s how Judas knew where to find him so that he could be arrested.

Jesus did not flee. He prepared to battle the last enemy, death, by praying in retreat to discern his Father?s will. That was after he had celebrated the last supper, the Lord?s Supper, with his friends.

Before Dietrich Bonhoeffer was hanged in a Nazi prison camp just days before World War II ended, he celebrated the Lord?s Supper with his friends. He prepared to die as Jesus had prepared. Jesus conquered that last enemy by celebrating, retreating, and praying.

Giver of food, community, and solitude; Lord of good over evil?thank you for Jesus, who heard your will in retreat and prayer. May we live as he did till we see him face to face. Amen.

About the author — James and Rose Dekker

James C. Dekker is the pastor of Covenant Christian Reformed Church in St. Catharines, Ontario. Previously he served other congregations in Alberta and Ontario. Rose Dekker serves as a refugee coordinator for the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee in Canada. She also serves as a certified spiritual director. The Dekkers were missionaries for nine years with Christian Reformed World Missions, serving in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Venezuela, and Cuba.

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