Jesus Went to the Garden....
by PastorErick | 4/10/17, 11:24 AM
Jesus Went to the Garden
 And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him.  And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.”  And he withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and knelt down and prayed,  saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”  And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him.  And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.  And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow,  and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” (ESV)
Jesus has just left the upper room with his disciples, where he has had his last meal. He is now heading to the Garden of Gethsemane or in English, “the garden of the olive press”. He knows that in minutes everything will change. He knows that He will become sin for us. The olive press is coming down on Him and He is being crushed- “Father, if there is any other way, please let this cup pass.” Jesus appears to be battling the temptation to give up on His mission… but as the text shows us He wins the battle.
How does He win the battle with temptation?
When you look at the various gospel accounts of this night it’s interesting, that at no time do you read the disciples actually prayed. Jesus had commanded them to explicitly, multiple times in light of the danger coming their way. They may have began to at best, but soon drifted off to sleepy land. I just don’t think they really saw how serious there need was. You don’t really pray when you don’t feel like you need.
Jesus by contrast is all too aware of the situation He’s in. Matthew tells us that as he came near to the Mt. of Olives, he collapsed onto His knees and began pleading with His Father. Now, the normal position for prayer in Judaism was in a standing position. But Jesus, so exhausted at the thought of what was coming, physically couldn’t lift himself up. He is desperate: “Abba, Father…”
Have you ever prayed like that, prayed out of sheer desperation? “Please, please, if there is any other way! Please Father, Please Father….”
When my wife gave birth to our first son Jude, she had to have an emergency c-section. Jude’s heart according to the monitor had stopped beating. We went from long hours of boredom waiting for her to give birth to Jude and then all of the sudden it was happening, but not the way we had hoped. Doctors and nurses swarmed around her and they were doing everything they could to get her into the O.R. It all happened so fast; the next thing I knew, they were wheeling her into the O.R. without me. I was left outside to face this one alone. Earlier that day, we had found out that Melissa had a rare vein that if popped in the process of giving birth could cause her to bleed to death. I thought as I stood outside alone there that not only was my son dead, but that the vein had burst and that my wife’s life was at risk too. I went into shock; I was shaking so bad that I couldn’t put the coveralls on that I needed to have on to go into the O.R. so a nurse needed to come and help me get dressed. As I waited thinking my wife and child were going to die, the only words that I could muster up were, “Please Jesus…Please Jesus….Please Jesus….” I pled with Him in utter terror. Eventually, I was let into the O.R. and to my great joy there I saw my wife and my son…. ALIVE!!!!
When you feel overwhelmed with fear or temptation, you pray. This is what Jesus did….
Secondly, to avoid the temptation of giving up….
Jesus seeks God’s will first
So often if we do pray we pray “my will be done.” Lord I want, I want, I want; I need, I need, I need. Now please understand there is nothing wrong with petitions in your prayers. Asking God for healing, or peace, or financial security or whatever is fine as long as there is always the ability to say, “Lord this is what I want, this is what I’m feeling, but “nevertheless, not my will but yours be done.”
Jesus on the other hand shows us exactly what avoiding temptation through prayer looks like: From Mark’s gospel: Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” What an incredible scene we have before us.
This text brings us to holy ground. God the Son, who can end His mission at anytime and be completely just in doing so, is shown in some way to be wrestling in prayer with God the Father. These are things to incomprehensible for the human mind to take in. Yet as unfathomable as it all is to us how God can pray to or beg God, the text actually shows itself to be quite realistic. What do I mean?
Tim Keller points out that accounts of hero’s dying in the ancient world tended to be reported one of two ways: For the Greeks and Romans you have stories like how Socrates faced his impending execution from the drinking of hemlock: “The story of his demise has him surrounded by his followers, coolly tossing off ironic one liners. By contrast, in Jewish literature such as in 1 and 2 Maccabees, you’ll see that when Jews wrote accounts of the deaths of major figures and heroes they are shown as hot-blooded and fearless, and they praise God as they are being sliced to pieces by their persecutors.” And yet here Jesus Christ is, the hero of this book, in such agony (the word there is terror) over what’s coming upon Him that He is sweating drops of blood. Jesus experiences temptation like never before, but Hebrews tell us, “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.” And that’s the real stress of it all
Jesus knows that He is going to have to take “the cup.” What is this cup? In the prophets of the Old Testament the cup was most often associated with the wrath of God. For example, Psalm 75:8 say, “For in the hand of the Lord there is a cup with foaming wine, well mixed, and he pours out from it, and all the wicked of the earth shall drain it down to the dregs.”
The cup of God’s wrath that was foaming over because of the sin of mankind is now going to be poured out on His Son. The Father will abandon His Son and Jesus the perfectly righteous One will become sin for us. He will experience all of hell on that cross for us. And yet He prays, “Not my will but yours be done.”
The third reason Jesus doesn’t fall into temptation is…
He stays awake
Three separate times the other gospels tell us Jesus’ closest disciples are sleeping. And interestingly, the reason Luke tells us they’re sleeping is because of “sorrow.” They were stressed and exhausted, thinking about all the things that were going to happen. Can you relate to them? You have a big project at work or school and you know you have to do it, but it just all seems too overwhelming, so you just go back to bed. You procrastinate and avoid it, and sleep is the easiest way to make that happen.
“I just want to sleep, just a little bit, and then I’ll be okay.” Ahh but the Proverbs say, “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands and poverty will come upon you like a thief and want like an armed man.” Jesus had warned them often to “stay awake!” And now for the third time, He has come back to them and they are still sleeping. “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak,” Jesus says. “Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”
Now contrast the disciples, and you and I, with our Lord Jesus: And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when he rose from prayer, he came to his disciples.” Jesus does everything He commands us to do. There is nothing that He doesn’t do first. The disciples did not rise up in prayer, for they had given into sleep, and by default given up. But Jesus Christ did not stay on the ground; He did not stay in the Garden, but He indeed rose and went to face the cross of calvary and the wrath of God against us….for us….to rescue us. Yes as God’s creation has been held hostage by sin, Jesus Christ goes behind enemy lines, behind the door where our sin is eating us away and at the cross He will say to us “I’m here to rescue you.” He stays awake, and in the process takes away the sting of death and hell. Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross. What was the joy set before Him? It was paying for your sins so He could declare you forgiven, make you His brother and the adopted child of the Father, for the glory of the Father. Thank God, that Christ didn’t give into temptation but took the cup for us.
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