I. Introduction: Entering the Garden
It was a long, difficult day, at the end of a long, difficult week, for Jesus.
The Sunday before, crowds cheered him as he triumphally entered Jerusalem. His name was on every one’s lips. Thousands upon thousands spoke his praises. Every one wanted to see him, to be near him, to be present, to see perhaps whether he would do another miracle, or heal the sick. On that day Jesus accepted their praises, knowing that before the end of the week they would all turn against him.
On Monday, Jesus sees the height of corruption in the temple area. There, merchants and moneychangers took up the whole of the court of the gentiles, for their businesses, leaving no place for those outside of the covenant, those seekers who did not grow up knowing the law of Moses, leaving no place for them to come and pray. With a hand made whip, he drove out the merchants, and over turned the moneychangers tables crying, “My Father’s house shall be called a house of prayer for all Nations…but you have made it a den of robbers”
On Tuesday, the chief priests and teachers of the law start harassing him in earnest. As he was giving to the people some final glimpses of the kingdom of God before his suffering, his enemies approached. “Who do you think you are? By what authority are you doing these things?” It was a question easily answered, but do you feel the animosity, the hatred, the venom, evident in those who asked it. The people who should have known, those who by years of long study, should have recognized him, and welcomed him, sought to trip him up and trap him, and before the week was over would cast their vote to have him put to death.
On Wednesday, one of his close friends, one who was with him for three years, one who had access to the deepest longings of his heart, agreed to betray him to his enemies. This betrayal, by a close friend, was not because of some ideological difference. He didn’t betray Jesus because he thought our Lord was doing something improper, or to keep him from spreading heresy. Christ’s enemies, at least, had that excuse. No, this betrayal was for money. For 30 pieces of silver, the price of a common slave.
On Thursday, the night of our study, Jesus had one final meal with his disciples. He had one last night, one last time to try to teach his closest followers what was coming, one last night to prepare them for what was coming. He knew their love for him was weak. He knew all of them would be scattered, and even Peter, his closest friend, would deny three times that he even knew the Lord. He watched as Judas left the table, and knew that in a few hours he would return with a band of soldiers to have Him arrested. He knew that in spite of all his efforts, his disciples only just barely understood the significance of this night, had only the barest perception of what he was going to do for them. He knew that in many ways, though they were with him bodily, he was very much alone. It was in this way, that Jesus entered the Garden of Gethsemane. In the same way, we enter it as well.