Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” – Matthew 26:38
Jesus’ deep sorrow in this verse takes on special significance when we see it through a prisoner’s eyes. As He sat in the Garden of Gethsemane with some of His closest friends, Jesus was waiting to go through a judicial process. He was about to be arrested, imprisoned, tried, and eventually executed. He would be separated from those He loved. His so-called friends would pretend they never knew Him. He would be mocked, shamed, and rejected by society.
Only another prisoner could fully understand the way He felt at that moment.
In that moment of anguish, Jesus reached out with a simple request: “Stay here and keep watch with me.” He wanted His friends to be present with Him.
We can do the same thing today for prisoners facing the anguish and solitude of life in prison. Though in the vast majority of cases their punishment is deserved, their need for companionship, for trusted friends and mentors who can speak the love of Jesus into their lives, is huge.
And the impact of loving prisoners is awe-inspiring. It yields lives changed forever by the grace and truth of Christ, and it changes volunteers forever, too! As we go behind bars, remembering the prisoner according to the command of Jesus, we learn more than we ever thought possible about God’s redemptive power at work in our own lives.
Learn more about volunteering to go behind bars with Prison Fellowship by visiting https://www.prisonfellowship.org/get-involved/.