A Gathering in a Garden
The part of Jesus’ life that we will look at this morning if difficult to teach on and explain because it is really beyond any illustration or example that a teacher of God’s Word could point to today. Nothing like what will transpire in the Garden of Gethsemane has ever happened or will ever happen again.
There is no humorous story I can tell, or story from my childhood, or modern day parallel of what Jesus went through that night. We stand back and listen to His Words and see His despair, but are completely unable to understand any of it fully.
There is nothing that has happened in any of our lives that comes anywhere close to what Jesus endures here. So before we look at it, and ask Lord what are we to learn from this let’s pray.
Prayer – Jesus, in Gethsemane we see you ask, if there is any other way for man to be saved other than you having to endure the Father’s wrath upon you, and you ask is there any other way – but there was no other way. You experienced great anguish and terror. Your body was so stressed that you sweat drops of blood. Jesus, we don’t understand what you endured that night, but we thank you. We love you, and show us how to apply your Word to our lives this morning. Amen.
The Cup Bearer (vv. 32-35)
32 And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. 34 And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.” 35 And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him.”
Gethsemane, means “olive press” and is a garden found in an olive Grove where a press may have been located. It was a place where Jesus went to often to pray, rest, and fellowship with the disciples. It was situated on the Mt. of Olives and sat next to the Temple in the Kidron Valley.
Since Jesus knows that “the hour” is soon approaching, why does he leave a bulk of the disciples behind and only take three? He needed His closet earthly friends, those that “had his back” to support Him, and be with Him during this horrific night.
Jesus came as man’s mediator between man and God. He is fully God and fully man. 1 Timothy 3:16 “Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.”
1 John 1:1 “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—.”
In the Garden, we see his full humanity. V. 33 says that Jesus “began to be greatly distressed and troubled” John 14:23 “Jesus replied, ‘If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.’” The only way for The Father to make his home among mankind, is for the Son to lay down His life for them.
Jesus is greatly distressed because He is contemplating the Father’s wrath and the “hour” has now come to be poured out onto Him. Jesus at no other point is distressed, never does He experience terror, no where is he afraid – except here.
For Jesus, as He prays in the Garden, he begins to experience the wrath of God, each moment that goes by from this point onward, the cup is poured out upon Him faster and faster, heavier and heavier upon His head.
We see first that as He begins to approach the hour of the cross, he will do it alone; Everyone will abandon Him. He tells the disciples, v. 27 “You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.” 29Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.” But by the time the rooster had crowed three times, Peter had denied Him, and ran away. Here “the disciples fell asleep.”
Even when He looks them straight in the eye and says, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” they sleep. And v. 50 as the soldiers take Him off, as He appears before Pilate and the Sanhedrin, “Then everyone deserted him and fled.”
Jesus would have to endure God’s wrath upon Him all alone. There would be no friends, no disciples, no angels – He would stand and be crushed all alone. Jesus cries out, “36“Abba [Daddy], Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
Matthew 3:16-17 “And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
Every time Jesus has even prayed and talked to the Father, he was encouraged, was told what was to happen next, told what to do, ministered to, they had a perfect relationship – but now there is no answer, only silence. The Father has begun to look away from His Son, the wrath is beginning to fall in the Garden – and he is all alone.
We also see that for Jesus, there is great distress of His soul. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” This time was not a surprise, He had warned the disciples. Jesus knew that He would lay down His death for mankind. From Jesus’ perspective He is beginning to endure this “cup” of God’s wrath, all alone.
In Mark 10:32 Jesus is leading the way to Jerusalem, to His death. Jesus leads the way in His own death march. During the Last Supper Jesus leads them in hymns and songs as they exit the room to go to the garden. Even afterwards, it is Jesus who leads the way toward Judas, (v. 42) “Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand!”
But only here there is there deep sorrow, and being washed over by horror. Why? Jesus is getting a foretaste of what it means to be the world’s sin bearer. The cup has begun to be poured out upon Him. My sin caused Jesus to be filled with horror and anguish when He glimpsed into the pit of God’s wrath.
This is what my sin required – Jesus’ suffering was required in order for me to be forgiven. Are you moved by His love for you this morning?
Jesus said, “Yet not what I will, but what you will.” As He takes in all that He was about to endure from the Father and for us, He stumbles. He does not stumble into sin, but under the weight and pain He was about to endure. He knows there is no way, but He asks – is there any other way? But there is no answer, there is no other way.
So, He resolved to drink the cup of wrath dry, so that you may drink the cup of salvation. He said, I will do whatever is required for them to be saved. I will endure this for them. It is the only way – if there had been some other way, at that moment the Father would have said something. There was no other way.
The Sleeper (vv. 36-42)
And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” 37 And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? 38 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 39 And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. 40 And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy, and they did not know what to answer him. 41 And he came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”
Every time we see the disciples in this passage, they are asleep. Jesus returns to them on three different occasions, and finds them asleep. Why is this detail given? Because it shows us from whose perspective we are to receive this passage. Jesus is at the hardest time in His life here in this earth – and He is all alone.
His “soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” and no one is there to help Him. He tells them, but they are so consumed with their physical condition, that now they are only focused on themselves. They had just eaten a large dinner, they had been ministering with Christ all day, and now they were sleepy.
Jesus begs them to pray, but they sleep. Jesus is experiencing the wrath of God upon His life, His sorrow is overwhelming, but he stops praying on three different occasions to minister to the disciples. Those that He knew would abandon Him, and would not even pray when He asked them to, He goes back, and goes back, and goes back again to minister to them.
Peter, James, John – wake up, you need to pray – something very important is about to happen. I am about to die, and you need to be ready! Would they have been so fearful afterwards had they prayed that night? Would they have scattered so quickly, if they had prayed? Would they have lacked hope, had they prayed that night?
We must recognize His love for us in His darkest hour. Jesus endured this horrific time in His life because of His love for you and for me. Receive His care for you in your darkest hour. Jesus knows suffering and is more than able to minister to you.
Hebrews 4:14-16 “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
After this initial tremor of the crucifixion that was to come, an angel went and ministered to Jesus. But you know what, when we enter our darkest hour – we have someone infinitely better than an angel – we have Jesus Himself, who is not sleeping but 1 John 2:1 “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”
Jesus speaks to the Father on our behalf. When the accuser, Satan flails and points out our sin to the Father, Jesus leans over, “He’s one that you gave me, I took care of that sin.” The Righteous One, speaks on our behalf.
Once He has wakened the disciples on three occasions, he says, “Enough! The hour has come.” Jesus had begged them to pray during this time, but the time for prayer was over – now there was a series of events that were about to unfold that the disciples would have to endure with no prayer.
The Betrayer (43-52)
“And immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. 44 Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man. Seize him and lead him away under guard.” 45 And when he came, he went up to him at once and said, “Rabbi!” And he kissed him. 46 And they laid hands on him and seized him. 47 But one of those who stood by drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. 48 And Jesus said to them, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? 49 Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. But let the Scriptures be fulfilled.” 50 And they all left him and fled. 51 And a young man followed him, with nothing but a linen cloth about his body. And they seized him, 52 but he left the linen cloth and ran away naked.”
Judas goes at once to Jesus and kisses his cheek and calls Him Rabbi. Rabbi was a common expression to your teacher. Jesus had taught Judas as a teacher for three and half years. Judas was there as Jesus explained the meaning of life, what His parables meant – he was on the inside, a part of the inner circle of Christ’s teaching ministry.
Jesus would be poured out as an offering for mankind, but Jesus had poured Himself into Judas – only 1 of 12 in all the world had this kind of access to Jesus. Jesus was Judas’ teacher.
A kiss was a common way for a disciple to greet his teacher, is intimate between two people. The Greek indicates that this was not a peck, but a prolonged kiss on Christ’s cheek.
Judas draws from his knowledge of Jesus and His patterns of life. In order to betray Jesus he wanted a place where he knew that he would be (Jesus would go there to pray) and where there would few people (Jesus went there often with His disciples.
Judas was one of the few who had this intimate relationship with Jesus. Not just everyone would know where they could find Jesus, and not just anyone could go up to a Rabbi and kiss their cheek – only one their disciples. What makes this such a bitter betrayal is that Judas used His knowledge and intimacy with Christ in order to betray Him.
Not only would Jesus have to endure isolation, agony of His soul, the wrath of the Father, but He would be betrayed by one who He opened His heart and life to (He only did this with 12 people). These 12 knew Jesus better than anyone else on the planet and one of them would betray Him, One would deny Him three times, all would leave Him.
This is why when we sin, it so horrific. We who Jesus endured all these things for, we who Jesus draws us close for a close relationship and friendship. We who know him like the world does not, when we sin we betray Him. We call Him teacher, Savior, and kiss His cheek – only to hand Him over be crucified.
Hebrews 6:4-6 “For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.”
What do we do with Christ asking us to pray? What do we do with Christ’s agony and anguish in the Garden, and the fact that it was all because of us? What do we do with the knowledge that we ridicule and betray Christ every time we sin?
Seek His face today. Seek the face of one who willingly gave His life for you, because He loves the Father and followed in obedience and loves you. Ask for His forgiveness, not in a way of saying “teacher,” that you really don’t mean it, but with a “broken and contrite heart.” Ask for His forgiveness and thank Him for His precious gift that He gave us.
Romans 3:22-23 “. . . the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for fall have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. . .”