by Julia Charleston

“Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, ‘Sit here while I go over there to pray.'” Matthew 26:36 [NLT]

Our strength comes from community; we’re most powerful where two or more are gathered. Jesus and his disciples were strongest when they were together. Their power as a team was a mighty force, as they performed miracle after miracle. They fed thousands of hungry people. They healed lepers and healed the sick. They cast out demons. They encouraged and loved and taught their followers, and each other. Living life in community, they linked arms and lifted each other up. They encouraged one another, and carried each other’s burdens. They served in the areas of their giftedness bringing success to their ministry.

During this season of prayer and fasting leading up to Easter, I’m reminded of the Last Supper, where Jesus helps prepare the hearts of his friends for what’s soon to come. They share a meal, they laugh, and tell stories; they even have a friendly argument over who is the favored one. They take communion together and sing hymns.

Jesus moves their party out to the Mount of Olives, proceeding into the Garden of Gethsemane, where He instructs His friends to sit still and keep watch. He then leaves his friends and walks to another part of the garden to pray. Jesus knew He had to climb up on the cross. He knew His friends were not going with Him. He knew facing the cross was something he had to do by himself, but not alone.

Daniel had three friends by his side, but had to fight the lion by himself, but not alone. And David had seven brothers and an army behind him, but he walked past all of them, knowing He had to face the giant by himself, but not alone. There’s a parallel between the lives of these men, all of who linked arms with friends, but had to face the big things in their life by themselves, but not alone.

There’s a time for doing life together, for fellowship and for the breaking of bread with one another. Those times are important and necessary. We depend on our friends to lock arms with us and live life in community. When faced with some of our biggest challenges, we only have ourselves to count on. God separates us from everyone else, just as He did Jesus in the garden, to tackle those obstacles by ourselves. And when we do, God goes before us and prepares the way for the victory that awaits us.

And as we carry our victory banner to reveal what God did for us along the way, we will be a living testimony of His wonderful miracles to all our friends, waiting for us at the garden gates.