Summary: As we look at the Garden at Gethsemane , the place where Jesus prayed, may God help us to realize the power of prayer that He has so freely offered to us. (PowerPoints Available - #272)
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS OK
(PowerPoints used with this message are available at no charge. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and request #272.)
TEXT: Matthew 26:36-46
Usually on Palm Sunday I preach a sermon about Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem. But today I'm going to break with tradition & talk about something that occurred later in the week in the Garden at Gethsemane.
I. THE GARDEN AT GETHSEMANE
A. A Place of Prayer. The Garden at Gethsemane - just the very mention of that name produce a variety of images in our minds - images of prayer, agony & betrayal. Yet it is a beautiful site, & tourists visiting it will often be told that 8 of the olive trees there today were nearly a century or more old when Jesus went there that night.
Our Scripture text this morning is Matthew 26:36-56. It begins with these words: “Then Jesus went with His disciples to a place called Gethsemane…”
And Luke 22:39 tells us about it in this way, “Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and His disciples followed Him.”
Being in the Garden at Gethsemane was not something unusual for Jesus. Evidently, when He was in Jerusalem this was where He usually went to pray. So when Judas went hunting for Jesus to betray Him, he knew just where to go. Jesus had gone “as usual” to the Garden at Gethsemane to pray.
ILL. Surveys indicate that about 85% of all Americans say that they pray. Some pray a lot, & some not very much. But 85% of us say that we pray. In fact, I have even heard that 20% of self-proclaimed atheists & agnostics say that they pray, too. I’m not sure to whom they pray, but they say that they pray.
You see, God has offered us a source of strength through prayer, but too seldom do most of us really pray. So this morning, as we look at the Garden at Gethsemane , the place where Jesus prayed, may God help us to realize the power of prayer that He has so freely offered to us.
By the way, do you have a place that is your place of prayer? Is there a spot where, maybe early in the morning, or during the day, or late at night, you can go & be undisturbed as you pray?
Gethsemane was a place of prayer for Jesus. But for Him it was more than that.
B. For Jesus it was also a place of privacy. Vs’s 36-37 tell us that as Jesus & His disciples reach the garden Jesus “… said to them, 'Sit here while I go over there & pray.’ He took Peter & the two sons of Zebedee along with Him, & He began to be sorrowful & troubled.”
Here is the scene. After eating the Passover meal together in the upper room, Jesus & 11 of His disciples are walking back toward Bethany. Judas is not with them. He had left them earlier to carry out his plan to betray Jesus.
As Jesus & His disciples are going up the Mt. of Olives they come to the Garden at Gethsemane. Jesus stops at the entrance & leaves 8 of them there to wait while He goes into the Garden to pray.
He takes Peter, James & John with Him. Then, after asking them to watch & pray, Luke tells us that He left them & went about a stone’s throw beyond them. Then He fell to the ground & prayed, all alone with God.
And there are times in our lives when we, too, need to be alone with God. I imagine that most of us have experienced times like that.
C. For Jesus, the Garden at Gethsemane was also a place of great agony. Vs. 38 tells us that He said to Peter, James, & John “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here & keep watch with me.”
It was a time of intense feeling & agony for our Lord because He knew what tomorrow would hold for Him. He knew about the illegal trials, the scourger's whip, the crown of thorns, & the cross. Is there any doubt that Jesus was feeling the agony of it all?
The Gospel of John says that when Jesus left the upper room with his disciples to go to the Garden at Gethsemane that they crossed the Kidron Valley. And in that Valley was a stream called the "Brook of Kidron" that flowed down from the temple mount.
On that day, Passover, thousands of lambs had been offered as sacrifices for the sins of the people. And the blood of those lambs had drained out upon the temple mount.
The Brook of Kidron would have been red with their blood. And Jesus, the "Lamb of God," as He crossed that brook knew, “Tomorrow, it will be my blood that flows.”