Summary: This sermon is about "Prayer" and is part of a series on "Words of Lent’
Finish these sayings: -- “You can’t get blood… out of a turnip” -- “Your goose is… cooked” -- “My life is going to hell…in a hand basket” -- “Don’t get your nose… out of joint” -- Or “your toe in a… jam” -- “Don’t get mad, I’m just busting your… chops” -- “I was to be a… millionaire” -- “Deal or… no deal” -- “I’m caught between a rock… and a hard place”
Rock and a hard place. That means there is no way out. (1) stresses that there are two forces which are restricting one’s movement. Often it is the opposite direction of these forces that causes the sticking point. One is unable for some particular reason to do something that one would like to do, such as act or not act in a certain way. "I’d like to help you but I am stuck between a rock and a hard place." To have someone between a rock and a hard place is to have them in a position that causes them to make a choice that they don’t want to make.” (1 -www.GoEnglish.com) It is a difficult place to be.
In the Bible words mean something, and so often we miss it, because we only understand the English translation, such as Bethlehem means “House of Bread”. To understand this, then, you understand the Bread of the World was born in the house of bread. “Gethsemane” is no different. A “gat” (Hebrew) is a press. A large five-foot high square stone pillar. Semane (Hebrew) is “oil”. (2) If “you lived in the first century and worked with a Gethsemane your day would be spent gathering olives, placing them in a woven fishnet like bag, and putting them on top of a stone table. This specifically designed table is round with beveled edges that curve down to a trough. The trough is angled and funnels into a pot which holds the oil. The top is designed to receive the Gethsemane. The tall square stone is lifted up and set on top of the basket (net) and for several hours its tremendous weight is left there to crush the liquid from the olive.” (2 – “The World is Crowded with Gethsemane’s” unknown www.esermons.com)
It does not surprise me then, that this is where Jesus went: Between a rock and a hard place – you pray
A place where the rock (weight) is pressing down
Let this cup pass from me (get me out, take it away)
At some point it produces results (oil) “But not my will”.
I always glad doesn’t answer every prayer, at least not with a “yes”. If God let you win the lotto “we might not ever see you again’. If he always healed you your way, you would never struggle with faith issues, and likewise you would never grow. Sometimes weight has to push us down (a little) to get the good out of us. A rock and a hard place (Gethsemane) is where we move from demanding our will, to “not my will, but yours”. Suffering can force us to look outside ourselves, to look at others and will especially cause us to look for God. It is in Gethsemane’s that we grow the most. We don’t want to be there long, but long enough to get the good oil out. It forces us to pray.
In March of ’06, just two years ago, the San Antonio Express News told about Janet Jackson. Her name was not unfamiliar to me. She was a friend of Cindy Harrell Wimberly (of Junction). Janet had been on our prayer chain, as well as many prayer chains. I had asked the church for specific prayers that had been relayed to us by Cindy. She laid in a coma for 27 days with a bad heart. She was waiting on a transplant, that without Doctors assured her family that she would not live. She was waiting for a match and to move up the transplant list. Then something happened: her heart healed! Did I just say, her heart healed? The by-line of the paper read “Patient needs no transplant. Was it the pumps? Was it prayer?”
Gethsemane is not always a fun place. It is not always the place we want to go. But under the weight of the rock… rather than succumbing to the pressure, we can let the good oil out. We can find ourselves that depends in faith and prays “Not my will, but thine”.
Jesus so often retreated for prayer. One of my favorites is in John 17, where John records Jesus praying for his disciples and those who will come after him. He prays for us to be protected, and kept. He prays for us to be safe from the world, and safe for the evil. Not just his close personal disciples, but “vs 20 “…but also for all who ever believe in me through their message…”