Summary: A sermon for the Season of Lent
Keeping Watch in the Garden Matthew 26:36-46
I stand here close beside you. Your anguish I would share. O Lord do not despise me, in this your heart’s despair. For when your heart is drooping in death’s last agony, my arms will be about you and hold you close to me. Amen. (#17)
Grace and Peace to you from our Lord Jesus Christ.
I would like you to close your eyes and imagine that one of the characters in our lesson this evening is going to speak to you. Imagine him sitting in the garden, half asleep, trying with all of his might to stay awake, but every now and then nodding off to sleep.
You can hear his the words in his mind as he mulls over the events that have led up to this moments, and what he think about the prayer Jesus is saying as he hears tiny bits and pieces.
Peter is thinking: “I can’t stay awake. I want to but it has been a long day, hey a long week. Jesus is speaking about strange things, death, betrayal, and then he let that woman anoint him with oil when we could have sold it for a lot of money.”
“My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” He said his soul is sorrowful even unto death!! Death!! But I thought he was the Messiah, the one who would lead us to victory. Judas and I have spoken about that at great length. The Messiah is the one that will bring us out of this bondage of the Romans and deliver us into our land once again.”
“I just don’t understand.”
“I can hear part of Jesus’ prayer and He is saying:’“My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.”
“See he doesn’t want to die, but then he says not my will but yours Father. God wants Jesus to die?? I can’t stay awake.!!!”
“What, oh Jesus, sorry I just nodded off.”
He is upset saying to me: Peter “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
“Jesus went back to pray, but I have all kinds of questions to ask. How can God want you to die? How can you be the Messiah if you are going to die? And when?”
“Wait I remember something Jesus said after he told us about separating the sheep from the goats. “
Jesus said, "You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified."
“The Passover is now and Jesus will die soon.” “How can the Messiah die, and die on a cross and still bring salvation to His people. How? How?”
“I think I nodded off again. Did Jesus come back and find me sleeping?? I hope not. I wanted to stay awake, but my mind is so full of questions, and doubts, and I can’t explain this feeling of despair I have in the pit of my stomach.”
“Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”
“What!!! he wants us to follow him and he is going to be betrayed!! Who? What? Why? I feel sick!!"
And Peter goes off to follow Jesus!!!
This contradiction that Peter has in his mind and soul about Jesus, Jesus being the savior of Israel and bringing glory to the land and driving out the Romans, a theology of glory, and Jesus dying on a cross, the theology of the cross, that through brokenness of the cross came the glory of the Easter resurrection, that contradiction is still with us today.
Some see in the theology of glory that if you have faith enough, if you believe enough, then all of life will be glorious. You will have health, wealth and happiness. God brings all glory to life.
For example. When Kurt Warner won the supper bowl, when everything was going well for him, leaving the Barnstormer, making if big in the NFL, he kept thanking God, giving God all the credit. And I asked myself, what happened if it didn’t turn out so glorious, would he still be sharing his faith? And this year, everything went just the opposite. He got hurt, he didn’t throw the ball as well, and he did not say anything about God in all of his interviews.
Was God there in the bad times and well as the good?