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Sunday, March 24, 2013


“They went to a place called Gethsemane,
and Jesus said to his disciples,
‘Sit here while I pray.’
He took Peter, James and John along with him
and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled.
‘My Soul is overwhelmed with sorrow
to the point of death,’
he said to them. ‘Stay here and keep watch.’”
Mark 14:32-34 NIV

Jesus had been to the Mount of Olives many times. Who knows exactly how many times he had walked through the garden of Gethsemane. I wonder if he loved it there. Was it a place of comfort? Was it beautiful? Did he remember the day he created this spot? Had he shared good times with his friends in this garden? Had he prayed here before? One thing is for certain, this night in the garden would be different. Although the place may have looked familiar, it was a place he had never been before. It was a lonely place of human sorrow to the point of death.

Luke writes that Jesus prayed in this garden, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done. An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.  And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” Luke 22:42-44 NIV
Mark records it this way, “Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him.” Mark 14:35 NIV  Jesus further states his confidence in his Father by saying, “Abba, Father,...everything is possible for you.” In prayer Jesus addresses his Father as, Abba, Father. That is an affectionate term much like a child calling out dear Daddy. It seems that Jesus in his humanness is pleading with the Father by reminding him that he is his precious Son. Jesus did not doubt the power of his Father as he boldly asks, “Take this cup from me.” Still almost in the same breath speaking words of surrender, “Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Mark 14:36 NIV
Matthew records that Jesus went deep into the garden alone three times to pray. It was in this garden that Jesus asked Peter, James and John to pray and keep watch with him. But their sleepy eyes kept closing. Perhaps they were mentally and physically exhausted from hearing all that Jesus had shared with them in the upper room. But Jesus knowing full well what was ahead pleaded with them two times to watch and pray so that they would not fall into temptation in the hours ahead. Even in his own distress the second time Jesus returned to the sleepy three he did not speak words of anger or disappointment. Picture this. Can’t you just see Jesus lovingly looking over their tired bodies and making a comment for all of us to read? “The spirit is willing but the body is weak.” Jesus’ words were not of condemnation but rather words of understanding because he knows that we, his precious children, are dust. What a reminder that we can accomplish nothing outside of the grace and power of our Maker.
It was in this garden that Jesus received the kiss of betrayal from Judas. Matthew’s account in chapter 26 says that upon meeting Judas, his betrayer in this garden, Jesus still called him friend. (vs.50)
John remembers and writes in chapter 18 that it was in this garden that Jesus willingly walked toward those who hated him. He went out to meet them and asked point blank, “Who is it you want?” He did not run, lie, or attempt to hide. He then openly admitted that he was the one they were looking for, Jesus of Nazareth, as he answered, “I am he.” John 18:6 NIV  It was in this garden that those who heard his confession of deity fell to the ground because they had heard the voice of God.
It was in this garden that Jesus asked a profound question to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders who had come for him, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come with swords and clubs?” Luke 22:52b NIV Jesus further commented, “But this is your hour – when darkness reigns.” Luke 22:53b NIV
It was in this garden that Jesus healed the right ear of the servant of the high priest after Peter, who in a fit of mixed anger and fear, had whacked it off with his sword. Luke 22:49-51
John notes that it was in this garden that Jesus spoke to Peter telling him to put his sword away then asked this question, “Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” John 18:11 NIV Jesus was so in love with his Father and he was willing to drink the bitter cup of surrender in order that he might glorify the Father.
As Jesus prepared to exit the garden he still continued to teach by speaking profound words with every step he took. “Put your sword back in its place, …for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.” …and here’s the kicker! “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?” Matthew 26:52-54 NIV 
It was in this garden that all the disciples deserted him and fled. Matthew 26:56b
In the garden of Gethsemane Jesus modeled so much. He knew that he needed to be alone to pray in order to receive strength from the Father for the task ahead. Jesus modeled surrender to the Father, love and understanding for Peter, James and John, a word of friendship for Judas, mercy and healing for the servant of the high priest, and he was an advocate for peace. Jesus exhibited strength in the face of adversity, and he proclaimed his authority as God.
There is so much to learn from that horrible night in the garden of Gethsemane. I will never experience what my precious Lord experienced but I will without a doubt walk through my own Gethsemane, maybe once, or maybe multiple times. The rules are still the same today as they were two thousand years ago.
- Go to the Father for strength.
- Spend as much time in prayer as needed.
- Surrender to the will of the Father.
- Be understanding of friends if they are not always there to support you.
- Be ready to extend the olive branch of friendship to our offenders.
- Be merciful to others.
- Be a peacemaker.
- Draw on the authority and power of the Holy Spirit for moment by moment strength.
- Trust the Father.
- Obey the Father.
- Experience the inner peace that only the Father can give to each of us in our time of need.
  1. Are you in awe of the events of Gethsemane?
  2. Do you see how you can learn from Jesus’ experience in Gethsemane?
  3. Does your heart break for Jesus as he wept in the garden?
  4. How can we ever repay the debt we owe our Savior?
We simply cannot. We are all lost souls dependent upon his grace. This Holy Week if you do not know the gift of God’s free grace, simply look to the cross and ask Jesus to forgive your sinful state and restore you to God’s kingdom. It is not difficult; it only takes desire and a simple step of faith.
Dear Jesus,
I thank you that you were willing to pray in the garden of Gethsemane for strength to do the will of your Father. I thank you that you surrendered to the will of the Father not your own will. Jesus I thank you that I am loved by you and that you loved me enough to die for me. I see more clearly now that this garden you most likely loved was not a lovely place on the night you were arrested. Being both God and man was not easy. As God you knew what the future held. You could look ahead and see every lash of the whip, hear every mocking comment, anticipate the pricking crown of the thorns. You knew there would be shameful moments of disgrace. You knew full well the pain that was to come from the tearing of your flesh, the stab of the sword, and the collapsing of your lungs. You knew that the blood would drain from your body and your flesh would be torn and broken. As the sacrificial lamb, you knew that in the end you would bear the massive weight of sin, the sin of the entire world and be forsaken by your Father.
As a man, surrender was not easy, forgiving was not easy, being betrayed and deserted was not easy, being falsely accused was not easy, being hunted like a criminal was not easy, it was all hard. I know that in your humanness you could have failed, but you loved the Father enough to be obedient unto death, even  death on the cross. And you loved me enough to die for my sin.
The truth is you could have run, you could have called ten thousand angels to your rescue, you could have disappeared into thin air, you could have refused to die, but instead you chose to obey your Father. Jesus you paid an enormous price for me. Thank you. Jesus, I want to live my life for you. I am so grateful for all you went through for me! Thank you, thank you, thank you Jesus.
In Your Name I pray. Amen