Summary: Reflections on Gethsemane
When have you been closest to death?
ILLUS: I seem to come close every time I play softball with (name of parishioner)...especially when I’m on Third base and he lines a sharp foul ball...or playing paintball-- I remind everyone that I’m a noncombatant, but that doesn’t work either...
ILLUS: I came close one time horseback riding... the horse took off galloping fast, I fell down and hurt my elbow, but my foot caught in stirrups, and the horse was dragging me-- I literally felt that I was going to die. I probably would have if the Kmart manager didn’t come out and unplug the horse. I would have been gone.
--ILLUS: Class 3 rapids along Snake River. My high school class were in guided boat, but a friend and I wanted to do a 2 man kayak. Which is fine in class 2 rapids, but in class 3, you have a good chance of getting tipped if you’re a novice. We were coming upon class 4 rapids which has a high % of injury…so we were going to pull over about 200 yards before the class 4 rapids, however, the kayak tipped and I literally couldn’t catch my breath without waves of water splashing in my face...I remember calling out to God for help and never forgot how close I came to drowning
During Easter, Christians around the world focus on the trial, death, and resurrection of Jesus. How much courage it took for Jesus to die for us.
But we sometimes forget that Jesus almost faced death in a garden…he had a near death experience…and I want us to reflect on that today...before the mountain top of resurreciton joy, Jesus went through a valley of death, and the garden played an important role.
Mark 14:32-34 “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.”
1. Gethsemane was a garden, really an orchard, on the lower slopes of the Mt. of Olives. Jesus loved to hang out at the Olive groves…John 18 says that when Judas betrayed Jesus, he knew the place because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. Maybe Jesus would walk among the groves and snack on Olives…or just having a place to rest in the shade under the hot, arid, sun.
ILLUS: In my neighborhood (which was at an overseas location in Spain), wake up some mornings to the smell of sour bread...at least that’s what I thought it was. However, I found out from an engineer in town, that the smell is really the olive presses. (town)’s largest income arrives from Olives, canning, olive oils, etc. It is one of the biggest Olive producers in West Andalucia, Spain.
Gethsemane literally means “Oil Press”= a place for squeezing the oil from the olives. How symbolic. Whenever you read this account…never forget that. Not only were olives pressed, but this was the place where Jesus’ had his emotional and mental anguish that pressed upon him heavily.
Jesus told Peter he could call down 12 legions of angels (72,000) if he needed to fight a Holy War on his behalf, but he didn’t. He went through a testing period.
ILLUS: Prince William, as we know, joined the military. Do you think the military trainers and officers treated him lightly? Do you think they skipped his training knowing that he could call his royal father for help? Not that he would, but he possibly could. We know from his military experience thus far, that Prince William was involved in a mission to Afganistan, and that he has trained with the Royal Marines...he is currently going through training to be a search and rescue helicopter pilot...but he doesn’t expect special treatment...
Likewise, Jesus did call out to His Father to take the cup of suffering away...but only if it was His will...
2. Overwhelmed to point of death…Can a person die from intense grief? Yes.
Luke was a physician. A Doctor. In his gospel (22:44) Jesus sweat great drops of blood.
Can a person actually sweat blood? It is a rare medical condition, but also well known Hematohidrosis in which under great emotional distress, tiny blood vessels rupture in the sweat glands producing a mixture of sweat and blood.
Final passage: Verse Mark 14:35-36
“Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. Abba, Father, he said, everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
“Abba”—is an Aramaic word for “Daddy”…we pray all formal and uptight. O Creator, the Divine vicissitudes of Life, the vast omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient being above all space, time…bend thine ear to the supplications of your servants…Jesus never taught us to pray to God that way.