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A PLACE CALLED GETHSEMANE
Intro: Our study of the Gospel of Mark is bringing us ever closer to the moment when the Lord Jesus will give His life for sin and sinners on the cross. As Jesus approaches that hour, events in His life begin to move forward at an incredible pace. As these last events unfold in our Lord’s life, we are allowed to witness some of the most heinous and most holy events being played out side by side. The passage before us today is one of the most holy.
As we join Jesus and His men once again, they are in the midst of an eventful night. They have just finished the Passover celebration, vv. 12-26. They left the room where they celebrated Passover and made their way from Jerusalem down through the Kidron Valley to A Place Called Gethsemane. On the way to Gethsemane, Jesus discussed with His disciples all of the great truths contained in John chapters 14-17. He taught them about Heaven, the peace of God, surrender to the Lord, the coming of the Holy Spirit, and He prayed the wonderful and powerful prayer of John 17. All of this occurred as they made their way to the Garden of Gethsemane.
Our text today focuses in on what happened when they arrived at A Place Called Gethsemane. I would like for us to spend our time together today considering what took place in that garden that night. On that night, Gethsemane became more than a garden where Jesus and His men spent some time. On that night, Gethsemane became a place where eternal business was transacted for the glory of God. I want to point out some facts about Gethsemane as I preach on A Place Called Gethsamane.
I want you to see that it was A Place Of Pressure; A Place Of Prayer; and A Place Of Priorities. Let’s consider these facts together because they have much to teach us today.
I. v. 32-34 IT WAS A
PLACE OF PRESSURE
(Ill. The name of this garden was “Gethsemane. It probably belonged to a friend of the Lord. While it is famous in our day, and still exists just outside the city of Jerusalem, in the Lords day it was probably a small garden enclosed by a wall and guarded by a gate, v. 32.
It was a place Jesus often visited with His men, Luke 22:39. Gethsemane seems to have been a refuge for the Lord. It was a place where He could find solitude from the crowds and ministry that occupied His life. It was a place where He could go to find a private moment to commune with His Father. It was a sanctuary from the attacks of His enemies. It was a place of refreshment from the long days of ministry. It was a special place for the Lord and His men.
The name Gethsemane is Aramaic in origin. The word means “Olive Press. Gethsemane was, and is, a place where olive trees grew and produced their fruit. The olives were collected, placed in a press and the precious olive oil was extracted from the olives under intense pressure.
Jesus and His men arrive at Gethsemane. He leaves eight of the disciples at the gate to the garden. He takes Peter, James and John with Him and they go deeper into the garden.
Why were these men singled out? It seems that they were the leaders among the group. They would see and hear things that would serve them as the led the other disciples in the future. Jesus gave these three a time of special ministry so they could be used to help others to grow. By the way, the Lord still does that today!
He will put some of His people into situations where they can see, hear and experience things others can’t imagine. He does it so that He might use them to teach other about the power of His grace and sufficiency, Ill. Peter – Luke 22:31-32.
On this night, our Lord would enter the “Olive Press and the sweet oil of grace and submission to the Father would be extracted from the Lords life. For Jesus, the garden of Gethsemane would be a place of intense pressures. Our text tells us about some of the pressures He faced that night.)
A. There Were Internal Pressures The very language of these verses reveals the truth that Jesus Christ is in a time of intense emotional and spiritual trial.
· He Was Sore Amazed This phrase means to be struck with terror.” The word has the idea of “terrified surprise. Jesus knew what was coming, but as He looked into the cup He was about to drink, He was astonished and overcome with horror. No other human has ever experienced such anguish of soul as that which came upon Him.
· He was Very Heavy Speaks of a condition of great distress and anguish.”
· He said My Soul Is Exceeding Sorrowful This phrase literally means to be overwhelmed with sorrow. We get our word periphery from this word and it means to be surrounded. Jesus was surrounded by overwhelming sorrows.
· He said Even Unto Death This phrase means that Jesus was at the point of death as He prayed in Gethsemane. It is possible for a person to die of anguish alone.
The Word of God is telling us that Jesus was overwhelmed emotionally and spiritually by what He experienced as He entered the Garden of Gethsemane that night. Think about the pressure the Lord was under.
He knows He is about to suffer intense physical pain. He knows that He is about to become sin on a cross. He knows that He is about to be judged by His Father. He knows that, for the first time in eternity, there will be a breech in the unbroken fellowship He has enjoyed with His Father. He knows that He will be abandoned by His nation, His followers and His Father. He knows that He is about to be tried, rejected and condemned to death by the very people He came to save. He knows that the most powerful human government on earth is about turn its fury upon Him.
The thoughts of what He is about to endure literally overwhelm His mind and heart. It was a time of extreme internal pressure. Thank God that He endured the spiritual and emotional trials and made it to Calvary so that we might be saved.
B. There Were External Pressures When we read Lukes account of the Lords suffering in Gethsemane, he records this: And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground, Luke 22:44. As He prayed, He did so with such earnestness that the capillaries in his forehead began to burst. Sweat and blood mingled together and dropped to the ground.
While Jesus Christ is God in the flesh, the body He lived in was a frail human body just like ours. His body knew weariness, it felt pain, it got hungry, sleepy and tired. It was just a body. As Jesus prayed that night, the emotional and spiritual pressures that came upon Jesus were almost more than His body could handle. But, He did handle it! He survived the agony of Gethsemane and He made it to Calvary where He died for our sins!
C. There Were Infernal Pressures I have no biblical evidence to support this, but I will share with you what I believe. It is my opinion that Jesus was under satanic attack in Gethsemane. I believe that Satan was trying to so overload the Lord Jesus with distress and emotional suffering that he would cause him to die right there. This may be why we see an angel sent from Heaven to strengthen the Lord during His time in Gethsemane, Luke 22:43.
Contrary to popular opinion, Satan did not want Jesus to go to the cross. I have heard preachers say that Hell rejoiced when Jesus died. Nothing could be father from the truth! Satan know that he cross would sound his death knell. Satan knew that Calvary was the ultimate goal of the Father. Satan knew that, at Calvary, Jesus would defeat sin and Satan. That is why Satan had been trying to stop the cross ever since man sinned in the Garden of Eden. That is why he tempted Cain to kill Abel. That is why he tried repeatedly to corrupt the bloodline from which the Messiah would come. That is why he moved Herod to kill all the babies in Bethlehem when the wise men came looking for the King of the Jews. That is why Satan tempted Jesus to take the crown by bypassing the cross. y I believe that Satan also tried his best to kill Jesus at Gethsemane.
There were external pressures. Jesus Christ was victorious in Gethsemane and overcame the devil so that He might go to the cross and die for our sins.
I. It Was A Place Of Pressure
II. v. 35-36 IT WAS A
PLACE OF PRAYER
(Ill. Jesus leaves eight of His men at the gate of the garden. He takes three deeper with Him into the garden. He tells these three, Peter, James and John, to wait for Him and to “watch while He goes to pray. The word means to give strict attention to something. These men were to keep their eyes open for trouble, and they were to pray with Him, and probably, for Him as He prayed, v. 38.
Jesus went deeper into Gethsemane to pray. I want to look at His prayer for a few moments today.)
A. The Object Of His Prayer Jesus prostrated Himself on the ground and began to call on His Father. He addressed Him first as, Abba. This is an Aramaic term that is equivalent to our word daddy. It is a word of intense intimacy. It was a word used in Jewish households of the day, but it was a word that no Jew would ever use when he was speaking to God. Jesus enjoyed such intimacy with His Father that He felt most comfortable calling Him Daddy.
In Him, we have the same privilege! Paul said in Romans 8:15, “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. Through Jesus, we have the same privileges that Jesus enjoyed. We are brought into a place of absolute intimacy with the Father!
As Jesus prayed He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me... When you read this prayer, do not think for an instant that Jesus is trying to get out of going to the cross. He was born for that purpose, John 18:37. He was the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, Rev. 13:8. No one was forcing Him to go to the cross. He told the Pharisees, “I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father, John 10:17-18.
If Jesus wasn’t praying to avoid the cross, what was He praying for in the garden that night? In Matthew’s account He records the Lord’s words as follows, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me, Matt. 26:39. It is possible that Jesus was asking the Father if accomplishing salvation another way was a possibility within the Father’s redemptive plan. It is almost as if He prayed, “If there is another way, let Me do it that way.
Think about it, Jesus is about to become sin on the cross, 2 Cor. 5:21. For the first time in eternity, He will be separated from His Father, Mark 15:34. He will be forsaken, abandoned and judged by His Father. Thoughts of drinking that most bitter of cups must have overwhelmed the mind of the sinless Son of God! That “cup represented all the wrath and hatred of God against sin. That cup symbolized the full, undiluted wrath of God that was about to be poured out on Jesus.
While the knowledge of all that He was about to suffer physically must have terrified the mind of Christ, He was not afraid of the pain of the cross. However, the very thought of becoming sin, and being judged and abandoned by God was repugnant to the sinless Son of God.
I would also remind you that Jesus is at the point of death in the garden. It is a possibility that He was praying to live so that He could go on to the cross. He did not want to die here. He wanted to finish the task He had been given by the Father.
B. The Oppression Of His Prayer As I mentioned earlier, I think Satan was opposing Him as He prayed. I believe that Jesus was under such intense satanic attack in the garden that He feared He might die right there. It was a time of spiritual oppression like no other man has ever experienced.
The text suggests that Jesus prayed to the Father three times in the garden. Each prayer probably associated with a time of satanic attack. It took the devil three times to exhaust himself on the Mount of Temptation; it appears that he made three efforts to stop the Son of God in Gethsemane. I praise the Lord that Jesus prevailed!
C. The Obedience Of His Prayer As Jesus concluded His prayer, He expressed absolute obedience to the Fathers will. He did not want to be separated from His Father. He did not desire to experience His Fathers wrath. He did not want to become sin, but He was willing to do it because it was the Fathers plan for His life.
The words “I will and Thou wilt let us know that this was a true time of testing for the Saviour. While Jesus was sinless and unable to sin, He faced a time of severe temptation, Heb. 4:15. Just as He had on the Mount of Temptation three and one-half years earlier, He won a great victory by remaining submissive to His Father’s will.
(Note: Let me stop here and say that I thank the Lord He prevailed in Gethsemane. He could have walked away from us that night. No one was forcing Him to die. No one was forcing Him to become sin for us. No one was forcing Him to do what He did.
He did it willingly! He did it so that we might have a way to be saved. He did it so that when a lost soul cried out to God the Father in the name of Jesus Christ the Saviour, there would be salvation available. He did it because He loved us, John 3:16; Rom. 5:8; Rev. 1:5. He did so that we would not have to go to Hell. I am thankful that He endured the pain and paid the price so that we might be saved!
Have you believed on Jesus? Are you saved by His grace? Has His death become your death? Has His blood washed away your sins? Do you know Him as your Saviour? Oh, you can! If you will come to Him, He will save you and change your life and eternity. Come to Jesus and receive Him into your heart today!)
I. It Was A Place Of Pressure
II. It Was A Place Of Prayer
III. v. 37-41 IT WAS A
PLACE OF PRIORITIES
(Ill. As Jesus prayed in the garden that night, two sets of priorities are being played out. These priorities reveal the contrast between the sinless Saviour and sinful men.)
A. The Priorities Of The Master Jesus had one overriding, overarching priority in His life. He lived to do the will of His Father. When He was twelve years old, He said, Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business? Luke 2:49. Later, He said, “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work, John 4:34. And, “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me, John 6:38.
The cross of Calvary and the death of Christ on that cross was never in question! Jesus came to this world to die for sin and sinners and that is what He did. His Father’s will was all that He lived for! He completely fulfilled the Father’s plan on Calvary, John 19:30. That is a truth we can all rejoice in today!
B. The Priorities Of His Men While Jesus is praying and wrestling with the greatest load any man ever tried to carry, the disciples are asleep. Jesus commanded them to watch, but they are tired and they all fall asleep. These same three men slept though the transfiguration, Matt. 17. Now, they sleep through the greatest spiritual struggle the world has ever witnessed.
These men had the privilege of watching the Great High Priest of Heaven as He approached the Father in the Holy of Holies. They had a privilege no other men had ever enjoyed, and they slept through it all! What a tragedy!
Our Lord’s priority was the will of His Father. Their priority was themselves and their own needs. Now, in their defense, it was quite late. It was after midnight. Also, sleep is an escape. These men, given what they have heard, are surely depressed, frustrated and confused. It is possible that they slept out of necessity rather than apathy.
Be that as it may, it still does not excuse them from sleeping when the Master said to “watch. The fact is, they really didnt believe all the things He told them about His betrayal and His death. They probably thought He was being dramatic, so that went to sleep.
Jesus returns and finds them asleep. When He does, He speaks to Peter. Notice that He calls him “Simon, v. 37. This was Peter’s old name. It means “to hearken, or to listen. Peter hadnt listened to the Lord and he wasnt acting like the new man Peter. He was acting like to old man Simon. He wasnt acting like the Rock. Peter had just boasted that he was willing to die with Jesus, v. 31. Now, he can’t even stay awake while the prays for one hour.
Jesus warns His men to be watchful and prayerful because a time of temptation and trial is coming their way and they will need spiritual help to make it through that time of testing. Little did they know how soon that prediction would be fulfilled.
Jesus goes away to pray twice more and each time He returns, He finds them still sleeping. This passage teaches us that His men walked under a different set of priorities than He did. He lived to fulfill His Father’s will, they lived to gratify themselves and to meet their own needs. Imagine how their failure to stand with Him in His hardest hour must have added to His pain and sense of loneliness and isolation.
The lesson from this passage is clear. Jesus achieved victory because He was vigilant and diligent in prayer. He leaned on His Father and His Father gave Him the victory. His men leaned on themselves, and when their time of testing came, they failed, v. 50.
If we want to enjoy victory in our times of temptation and testing, we must learn to lean on the Lord and His power. We must not stand in our own strength, but in His alone, Eph. 6:10-12. As long as we lean on self, we are doomed to fail. When we let the old “Simon within us control us, we can expect nothing but failure in our Christian lives. But, when we surrender to His power and His control in our lives, we will be successful as we live for Him and walk in His will.
The disciples followed a predictable pattern in their lives. Look at it.
· They were self-confident, v. 31. They thought they could stand in their own power.
· They slept, v. 37. They were indifferent to the evil around them and they lacked true moral and spiritual vigilance.
· They were tempted, v. 50. They were called upon to think of themselves first and to rebel against God’s plan for their lives.
· They sinned, v. 50ff. they depended on themselves and ignored the power of Satan and they fell into sin. No believer is a match for the devil!
· They experienced disaster, v. 50ff. Just as temptation that is not faced in God power leads to sin. Sin that is not confessed and cleansed away leads to spiritual tragedy![i]
· Don’t think for a minute that the same thing can’t happen to any of us! The same pattern will manifest itself in our lives when we walk in the power of the flesh. We must stay close and clean if we would avoid becoming a spiritual shipwreck!
Conc: I thank the Lord for this glimpse into the events in Gethsemane. What a joy it is to know that our Saviour fought all the battles for us and that He prevailed every time!
If this passage demands anything from us at all, it demands our worship. When we think of all that He endured for us that night, it should drive us to our knees in worship, It should fill our hearts with His praises. It should make us want to lift holy hands to praise Him. It should make us want to rejoice in songs and shouting. It should fill us with a desire to worship and exalt Him!
If we are like the disciples this passage should cause us to awake out of our sleep and get busy for the Lord. This is an hour that calls for action, it is not a time for God’s people to sleep.
If you are not saved today, the sight of the Saviour suffering in Gethsemane should cause you to want to come to Him to be saved today.
Has He spoken to your heart today? If He has, come as He calls. Love Him! Praise Him! Worship Him! Adore Him! Believe Him! Receive Him!
[i] Adapted from MacArthur, J. (1989). Matthew (167). Chicago: Moody Press