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Dr. George B. Jackson: I’ll Meet You in Gethsemane

George Jackson

James px of Rev. George Jackson for his religion column in Salisbury Post.

There comes a time in the life of every leader when adversity and attack seems to be the order of the day. A time when your every move is scrutinized by those who are seeking your demise. You try to be careful and considerate of the people you have been assigned to serve, but every decision you make is dissected by critics.

You try every play in the play book, yet nothing seems to work. How do you press on facing what seems like a hopeless situation? Failure seems imminent. Rationalization kicks in… “This is too hard…I’m not the right guy for this task…maybe I should just quit.”

I believe Jesus faced something similar as he convened a last supper with His disciples. He carried a heavy load of burdens and grief to the dinner table on that Maundy Thursday. Maybe he thought being around friends and loved ones would ease the tension, but the dark cloud of betrayal permeated the room.

Across the table sat His friend and Chief Financial Officer, Judas Iscariot, waiting impatiently for just the right moment to spring into action. Then, as now, people who love us on Sunday might set us up to be arrested on Thursday. That’s one of the true dilemmas of leadership…knowing who to trust during times of turmoil and unrest.

A few hours later, Jesus found Himself alone facing His own mortality deep in the Kidron Valley. There was a garden in the valley called Gethsemane where there was a grove of Olive trees. In this garden, olives were smashed and pressed to release their precious oil. I cannot imagine the pressure our Savior experienced as sweat fell from His brow like drops of blood.

He did not want to die! He was only 33 years old. He had so much to live for. His mother and sisters depended on Him. So many people looked to Him for leadership and inspiration. He wanted to heal and unite the Jewish Diaspora.

Though the Sanhedrin and the Herodians vehemently rejected Him, still the common people received Him. Now He had to make a historical decision. He could ask His Father for a deferment. He could even go as far as to ask the Father for exemption or drink from the bitter cup of our sins and transgressions.

Gethsemane is that dreadful place everyone who leads must visit; a place where you go to challenge God. Why me? Why now? Why this? Please take this cup from me. It’s too much for me to bear. I’m scared. I’m lonely. I’m not qualified to carry this load.

But take heart dear friends. If you look up from Gethsemane, you can see Calvary and you will know that the long night of suffering and tears eventually gives way to joy on the third day morning.

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