Summary: We will never be able to comprehend the cosmic struggle Jesus experienced in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before his crucifixion. The sermon helps us to see the emotional struggle between Jesus’ human and divine sides, and what that teaches us.
Sermon 2: Gethsemane
Series: 82 Hours: Countdown to the Resurrection
Preaching March 31, 2019
NOTE: A PowerPoint presentation is available for this sermon by request at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please mention the title of the sermon and the Bible text to help me find the sermon in my archives.
TEXT: Please turn in your Bibles to Mark 14, starting at verse 32.
We’re in a series titled “82 hours”—an examination of several of the events that occurred in the life of Jesus from the Last Supper to the time of the resurrection. Today, we move from the Last Supper in the upper room in Jerusalem, outside the Wall of Jerusalem, across the Kidron Valley and up to the Garden of Gethsemane.
The events that occurred in that garden have reverberated down through the centuries. The agony Jesus experienced on that awful night, and the dreadful events of the day following, when He was crucified—referred to as “The Passion of Christ,” have been told again and again in music, books and films for centuries. Chuck Swindoll points out that even our language has been affected by these events, giving us such phrases as “he who lives by the sword dies by the sword”; “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” and “sweating drops of blood.” [Charles Swindoll, Jesus: The Greatest Life of All, at https://www.gotquestions.org/garden-of-Gethsemane.html. (Biblical phrases come from Matthew 26:52; Mark 14:38; Luke 22:44).]
Of course, the most important impact of this night was the RESULT of Jesus’s experience in the Garden of Gethsemane, for it was in that Garden that Jesus fully and finally sealed the eternal plan of the Godhead to pay the penalty for the sins of humanity. The story is one of the most moving scenes in all of literature, and in the Word of God. As I repeatedly read all three Gospel accounts this week, I, who am not very emotional, could not help but weep and kneel before God in thanks for His sacrifices made for me.
Walk with today me in Jesus’ footsteps from the upper room to the Garden of Gethsemane.
I. NOTE WITH ME FIRST THE PLACE WHERE THESE EVENTS UNFOLDED – Verse 32 – “And they came to a place which was named Gethsemane: and he said to his disciples, ‘Sit…here, while I shall pray.’”
We know exactly where Gethsemane is; it hasn’t changed in 2,000 years. Located outside of Jerusalem on the Mount of Olives, Jesus would have had to pass over the Kidron Brook to get to the Garden of Gethsemane. People would not drink from the Kidron Brook because, for one thing, it carried sewage from Jerusalem, but also because excess blood from the animal sacrifices in the temple flowed into the Brook.
The historian Josephus tells us that the Kidron Brook often ran red with the blood of the thousands of sacrifices performed at the temple, and this would have been especially true during Passover, which is when these events occurred.
I wonder if this fact crossed Jesus’ mind as He crossed the Kidron Brook. How ironic that in less than 12 hours, HIS blood would be shed so that there would never again be a need for animal sacrifices.
The name of the Garden, Gethsemane, is a corruption into English of two Hebrew words, GAT and SHMANÍM (pron. shmah-NEEM). [https://www.differentspirit.org/posts/gethsemane-and-what-follows.php.] It meant, “oil press” or “the place where olive oil is pressed.” To get oil from olives, they were gathered in rough sacks stacked atop one another. A heavy beam was lowered onto the stack and increasing weight was added to one end of the beam to press the oil from the olives. The more weight applied, the more pressure and the more oil extracted.
Again, how ironic….As we’ll see, the three to four hours Jesus spent in the Garden were some of the most stress-filled moments in the earthly life of Jesus. It was like the pressure applied under the heavy weight of an olive press.
The Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives was a favorite place for Jesus to pray.
In fact, Luke’s version of the story begins this way, “And he…went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives…” (Luke 22:39)
So, it’s not surprising that Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray before His greatest trial.
II. IN VERSES 33-35a, WE SEE THE INTENSE EMOTIONAL TURMOIL JESUS ENDURED – “And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled; 34 And said to them, My soul is very sorrowful, even to death: remain here, and watch. 35a And he went forward a little, and fell on the ground….”
It’s hard to imagine the emotional pressure Jesus experienced in the olive press of Gethsemane. Notice the terms used describing Jesus’ emotional torment. Verse 33 tells us that Jesus was “distressed and troubled.” In verse 34, He said, “my very soul is sorrowful, even to death.” Verse 35 says He “fell to the ground” as one staggering to the place of prayer and in such emotional anguish that He literally fell to the ground.