Summary: Jesus’ spiritual battle at Gethsemane is an inspiration struggle for those times when our faith gets put on the line.
Putting Your Faith on the Line
The Battle of France was over. The Battle of Britain was imminent. On June 18, 1940, Winston Churchill spoke those immortal words that have echoed through the last 60 years.
I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our empire. The whole fury, and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us … Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will say, "This was their finest hour."
This speech became the battle cry of a nation. This speech mobilized the entire country for the several months of intense bombing and fighting they would have to face. This speech gave courage to those who had become faint hearted, and encouragement to those who had become tired. This speech was the strength for those who in the desperation of the time could have lied down to die.
The Battle of Britain, indeed, did prove to be a turning point in the war. But upon this battle the survival of Christian civilization was not to be determined.
The finest hour was a battle fought by one man, in a lonely garden, nearly 2000 years before. It was the battle within Jesus, whether he would put his faith on the line.
Many of us have been on that battlefront. Many of us have had to put our faith on the line. When confronted with the death of someone we hold to as very dear, when we see the injustice towards others in our world, when we see those who are evil in their deepest parts multiplying their wealth, our faith is put on the line.
But at the time of our greatest battle, we have never experienced what putting faith on the line meant to Jesus. For Jesus, putting his faith on the line for God meant accepting God’s will no matter, even if it meant a cross.
Turn with me, as we approach this Jesus in what was truly the "finest hour." Please join me. Mark 14:32-42. (Read text)
1) The Haunting Place
Several elements collide together with each other giving us a picture of this scene when Jesus put his faith on the line. The first of these elements is the haunting place.
Gethsemane was a garden or orchard on the lower slopes of the Mount of Olives. It was one of Jesus’ favorite spots. Luke tells us Jesus frequently came to this garden with his disciples. Jesus, while in Jerusalem, would retreat with his disciples for time together, teaching, laughing, playing and praying. It is no surprise then that Judas knew just where to look for Jesus.
But there was something different about this night. Jesus and the twelve had celebrated the Passover meal. During the meal, Jesus instituted a new celebration, a spoke of a new covenant.
After completing the meal, Jesus and his disciples left the house and went to Gethsemane. On the way, they sang. Some people have suggested that Jesus would have sung from the 22nd Psalm, concerning the turning of God away from his suffering. But in my study, I have come to conclude the disciples would have sung from Psalm 118, the traditional closing hymn for the Passover celebration. Psalm 118 would close the celebration with these words: "This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."
Yes, we all know that song. It has come to be one of those peppy camp choruses. But here Jesus with his heart weighed down - "let us rejoice and be glad in it."
Gethsemane is a Hebrew word, and simply means "olive press," a spot where olives would be brought to be crushed, and pressed under a large stone, in order to remove their oil.
Isn’t it ironic to see the pressure term associated with this place? This night in Gethsemane would not be like the others. The pressure of Jesus’ inner struggle was bearing heavily upon him even now.
Jesus was at a point in his struggle when the vice was closing and the pressure from Satan was reaching its greatest point. At that point, we find him in this place of pressure. A haunting place.
You may have a place like that. A place, which has become your wrestling place with Satan. The place where the heaviest of life’s burdens weigh even heavier. A place where all the pressures of life squeeze and torment, as you struggle for direction.
You have been with Jesus.
2) The Disappointing Partners
"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 troubled. "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death," He said to them. "Stay here and keep watch."