The earliest Christians followed a Jewish tradition of pausing to pray, preferably together, first thing in the morning, about mid morning, at noon, about mid afternoon, and in the evening. “Just a Note” posts are brief observations made from Scripture readings not related to a lectionary. If I have one to post, it normally appears about 9:00 in the morning, at “the hour of prayer.”
John 18:1 is a very simple statement of transition. Jesus and his disciples go across a brook to a garden. On its surface it does very little other than tell of a location. However, some momentous events will happen in this garden. Jesus will pray more. He will pray for himself, something we have not seen before. His disciples will begin the process of falling away from him. He will be arrested there.
This garden becomes symbolic of much of the story of redemption. It is the place where blood drips from the second Adam, just as in a garden blood was shed for the first Adam. It becomes a symbol of the place where, in knowledge of Jesus’ atoning sacrifice, we can go to meet with God.
Despite all this, the garden is just that. It’s a garden. There are probably fruit trees, maybe grapevines. It’s the place where Jesus and his disciples could go for a rest at night, their campsite. It’s entirely a commonplace sort of location.
Jesus takes his disciples to perfectly normal places, to do perfectly normal things. Then he fills those places and activities with all sorts of power. He fills them with his blessing. Lord, even in this day full of normal places and tasks, remind us that you are the one who leads us.
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