Summary: Exposition of what Jesus found in the cup in Gethsemane.
(Note: to set up an illustration, I asked everyone in the congregation to write their name on a small slip of paper along with the name of an unsaved person they are praying for. Then I passed a large stemmed cup and had them all place the folded papers in the cup. Through the sermon the cup sat on a the communion table until I got to the illustration under point III)
Introduction How many of Jesus’ prayers were answered? All of them? That would only seem right. I mean, He was and is God’s only Son, He and the Father are one, and the Father is well pleased with Him. So one would think that every prayer Jesus uttered the Father answered. May I suggest to you that there is one prayer it appears Father did not respond to or, maybe said, "No."
Let’s look in Mark 14: 32Then they came to a place which was named Gethsemane; and He said to His disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33And He took Peter, James, and John with Him, and He began to be troubled and deeply distressed. 34Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch.” 35He went a little farther, and fell on the ground, and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. 36And He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.” 37Then He came and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “Simon, are you sleeping? Could you not watch one hour? 38Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 39Again He went away and prayed, and spoke the same words. 40And when He returned, He found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy; and they did not know what to answer Him. 41Then He came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? It is enough! The hour has come; behold, the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand.”
I believe this is Jesus’ last recorded prayer before the crucifixion. He just spent a pleasant evening with His closest followers, celebrated the Passover, and now, late in evening, under a full Passover moon leads them to the garden of Gethsemane, which means "olive press", a place where oil is squeezed from olives. You will see that name is appropriate. In this setting, Jesus suddenly becomes extremely agitated, the NKJV says, "Troubled and deeply distressed". That is translated "filled with horror and deep distress" in the NLT. Mark’s words suggest the greatest possible degree horror and suffering. The words are so strong it looks like Jesus is in the grip of a shuddering terror. He falls face down to pray, which doesn’t seem strange to us, but Jews normally prayed with hands lifted and standing. If one was in particular distress one might prostrate himself.
Why is Jesus suddenly so troubled? What causes such agony and passion that Luke says His sweat became great drops of blood? I believe the answer is in the cup. The subject of His impassioned cry is the cup: "Take this cup away from Me." What is in the cup that so horrifies the Son of God? Jesus is about to experience the full reason for His incarnation and the cup is why He came. In the cup He will face some things no other experience He had would supply. Let’s gaze into the cup to see what it meant to Jesus and what it can teach us.