The Glory of the Cross Series
Agony in the Garden
1. Illus. of dads ring
• Dad gave it to me after his stroke, when he realized his days were numbered.
• His father gave it to him when he went to military.
• Not very valuable... but I wouldn’t sell it for a million dollars.
• Sometimes the value of a thing is not its intrinsic value. Its value is what you are willing to pay for it.
2. What is my value? What is your value?
• We tend to answer that based on personal achievement. How much money are they worth? How much education do they have? What awards and recognitions have they received?
• God only other hand answers the question in an entirely different way. What we are worth to him is determined by what he would be willing to pay for us.
3. When you read the bible it becomes apparent that we are extremely valuable to God! And nowhere is this more apparent than in the Garden of Gethsemane. As Jesus contemplates his coming crucifixion he is in an agony of despair. Falling on his face before God he prays, "father is it possible that this terrible cup pass from me!" And yet so great is his love for you and me that he goes on to say, "yet not my will but your will be done."
4. Text: Luke describes the agony Jesus went though as He thought about His upcoming death.
5. Today: Jesus dread of the cross, and His willingness to go anyway, shows us how very much He loves us.
6. We will never understand the depth of His love until we undrstand the nature of this cup. What was this cup He agonized over? Three possibilities.
Possibility #1: it was the cup of physical agony.
1. When Jesus spoke of this terrible cup, some people believe he was referring to the physical agony of the cross. There is no doubt that the cross, and the events leading up to the cross, involved excruciating pain.
2. Scourging was called, “the little death” because often the victim died of the terrible beating. Having your flesh literally torn from your body one lash at a time was agonizing. Crucifixion itself was the most painful form of death that had ever been invented. As a matter of fact it was so painful that we had to invent a new word to describe that level of pain: "excruciating," means out of the cross.
3. And yet as terrible as it was, I do not believe that was the cup Jesus feared. Jesus physical and moral courage throughout his public ministry had been indomitable. To think that it failed him now is ludicrous! Besides that, it’s ridiculous to think that Christ failed where his followers would later succeed.
4. Illus. of Ignatius
• Bishop of Syrian Antioch at beginning of second century.
• On his way to Rome to be martyred, he begged the church at Rome not to plead for his release!
• “Let the fire and the cross, let the companies of wild beasts, let the breaking of bones and the tearing of limbs come, if only I may gain Jesus Christ!”
5. Illus. of Polycarp
• A few years after Ignatius. Was the 86 year old bishop of Smyrna.
• When told to deny Christ or burn at the stake, he refused to deny Jesus.
• Just before the fire was lit, he prayed, “Father, I bless Thee that you have counted me worthy to be one of your martyrs!”
6. Go back with me to that lonely figure in Gethsemane, prostrate, sweating, overwhelmed with grief and dread. Are we to suppose that while the martyrs rejoiced at the thought of suffering and death that somehow the son of God could not do so? Were they braver than Jesus?
7. No. We must look for another answer. It was not physical suffering that caused Jesus such dread.
Possibility #2: it was the cup of emotional distress.
1. There was suffering and distress at the cross that was not physical. There was emotional anguish, too.
• Some of His beloved disciples were there. We know John, the disciple who Jesus loved, was there. Can you imagine the heartbreak in John’s eyes? Can you imagine how he must have begged Jesus? “Jesus, come down. I saw you heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons. I know you are God’s Son. Come down!
• Mary, His mother was there. Can you imagine how she must have wept and begged? “Son, come down. I know you could if you wanted to. Come down! You are all I have left! Come down!”
• According to the gospels there was a group of women who had followed Jesus. Can’t you see the emotion in eyes, and hear it in their voices? Weeping, they said, “Come down Jesus! We have trusted you.. believed in you.. supported you. Come down!” Can you see them as they leave the cross, their hopes dashed into a million pieces?
2. There was enormous emotional suffering at the cross. It was a place of anger, anguish, and tears!
3. Illus. of Katrina
• Woman caught in her home. Talked to her husband on cell phone as waters rose higher and higher.
• Just a few minutes before the water took her life, she told him goodbye and turned off her phone. She couldn’t bear to put him through listening to her final moments.
• Perhaps that is what Jesus dreaded! Perhaps He dreaded those He loved watching and agonizing over His death!
4. And yet... Jesus knew that in 3 days He would be returning. He knew that in 3 days their sorrow would be turned to joy. He knew that once they realized what had happened, they would understand His plan was ever so much better than what they had desired!
5. Whatever it was that He dreaded so much, it couldn’t have been merely the tears and scorn of the cross.
Possibility #3: it was the cup of spiritual identification
1. If it wasn’t the physical pain of flogging and crucifixion that He dreaded, nor the emotional suffering of seeing those He loved devastated and having His own people reject Him… what was it? The Bible indicates it was dread of bearing the sins of the world, and of having God’s full judgment poured upon Him for those sins.
2. It was not by accident that Jesus referred to the cross as His cup. In the OT a “cup” was regularly used as a symbol of God’s wrath:
• In Job 21:20 a wicked person is said to, “drink of the wrath of the Almighty.”
• In Ezekiel 23:32, God warns Jerusalem that she will shortly be destroyed just like Samaria had been by saying, “you will drink your sister’s cup, a cup large and deep…”
• Isaiah 51:22 says, “I have taken out of your hand the cup of trembling, the dregs of the cup of My fury, and you shall no longer drink it.”
3. What Jesus dreaded was becoming totally identified with our sin, and then having God pour out upon Him the judgment for those sins.
4. Illus. of “African Queen
• Show pictures here.
• First Bogey in water pulling… then when I start telling about leeches flash to second picture of Hepburn pulling leeches off of Bogart.
5. But did you notice in our text what Jesus prayed? “If it be possible… not My will but Yours be done.. There was no other way for a just God to forgive us. The debt had to be paid.