THE FIRST NIGHT
Ted Felen's Road to Calvary consists of sixteen stations, which is unusual. There are three nights in it. All three take us out of town, with Jesus. The first night is in a garden named 'Getsemane', which means 'olive press'. According to the gospel stories Jesus had so far faced his violent death undauntedly with head held high. Now he feels completely crushed, as in an olive press. Some later manuscripts even have reports about his sweat dropping from his head in the form of drops of blood. This first night is the most turbulent and the blackest of the three. For Jesus himself it is pitch dark. There is no way out any more. It is so bad that he withdraws from his friends and in that loneliness he succumbs to a despair that threatens to overcome him. This is how he is lying on the earth among the olive branches. These remind us momentarily of the saying about the man sawing off the branch on which he is seated. The triumph of the olive branches with which Jesus was hailed into Jerusalem has reverted into its opposite. All courage has drained out of him completely. He begs and prays to be saved, having become human in the fear of death. This is the moment captured in this station. The look in Jesus' eye is bewildered and desperate. The hands are grasping into the void, the feet do not feel any ground beneath them anymore. In all respects he is isolated and alone, a motherless child. And the father? He has called upon Him. But whereas his friends can still be talked to, no voice is to be heard from heaven, as it was twice before. Utterly bitter.