Summary: As we look at Jesus during his last hours we see the son of God, but we also see very clearly his humanity. He was a man, and he can identify with our needs.
The Cross: It’s wisdom
Every Christian can grow in their knowledge of Jesus Christ, but understanding the experiences of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsamane.
There are some interesting facts about the sisal plant from which is made tough sisal twine. It grows in Yucatan, Mexico, in hard stony soil. Some Americans visited the area and decided that there might be good money to be made in growing it in richer soil under better conditions. So they started a sisal plantation in Florida where the plant found life no longer a struggle for survival and grew to enormous size. The business promised tremendous returns until the time came for reaping. It was then that the leaf from which fibre vital for the twine comes collapsed into a soft pulp. The tough fibre-quality was missing. They learned then that the sisal plant acquired its toughness by its battle with adverse circumstances - the wind, the heat and the barren soil.
When we look at the last days of Jesus life we would have to admit that it was not an easy road. It was a road littered with many different kinds of difficulties. Through those experiences we see how Jesus was not just God, but he was also man.
Experience I. Pain
A. Probably most have seen the pictures of Jesus praying in the Garden. There are rocks and trees around, while Jesus is kneeling at a large rock. It all looks very peaceful. He looks very contented. I guess I would have to say this is probably how we would like to see Jesus’ prayer in the garden. When I read this passage I see a man who is greatly troubled. It had not been the best of days for Jesus. One of the men who was closest to him was exposed as a traitor. If we have every experienced the pain of losing a friend or even the death of someone close by we know the agony Jesus must have felt. Now as he comes to the garden, he carries with him the knowledge of everything that is about to take place on top of that.
B. Jesus said to his disciples, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death." This phrase has the power of a laser beam. It is telling us the kind of agony Jesus is experiencing right now. He was telling his disciples with vivid clarity; I am really troubled here, so troubled that it may even lead to death. In The Message that is translated, “I feel bad enough right now to die.” This was not just a little something that was upsetting to Jesus, but this was something that was creating for Jesus a great deal of pain. I have to imagine the language used in this passage was something, which made very clear to the disciples the kind of distress Jesus was in.
C. The picture we see of Jesus may be the kind of thing we like to image from Jesus, but the truth of Jesus gives us a completely different picture. Jesus was a man who was overflowing with pain. It is really something very different from the picture we might have in our mind. I would guess that most of here have no problem saying Jesus is God. We may also find it easy to say Jesus was a man. The problem we run into is when we see pictures like this where it is very clear that Jesus was a man. It is very clear to me that when I am in the fog of despair, I don’t have to be there alone. I have a savior who understands what it is like to be betrayed. He understands what it is like to know something big is going to happen.
D. As we read of the humanness of Jesus Christ we even see him praying, “Take this cup from me.” He did not want to endure what lay ahead. I can identify times in my life when I had to do something I just did not want to do. At those times Jonah became my hero. On a mission trip, I was on the supper crew one night. One of the guys came in late, and seemed to me to be trying to take over. He was probably really trying to get caught up. I got mad and told him, “If you would have been here on time you would have known what we are doing.” Later, I knew I needed to apologize for my angry outburst. I preferred to run, but I needed to confess my own wrong actions. Jesus knows the struggle I faced that day. He can identify with your struggles as well.
Experience II. Prayer
A. When Jesus hits this low point in his life he turns to the best place he can. He first of all turns to God. In this passage we see some very short prayers offered up. But if we would turn to John 19 we would see an extended time of prayer. It is the passage where Jesus prays for himself, he prays for his disciples, and then he prays for us. So there we get a little better look at what Jesus is praying about. Here we just know that he is praying. I would say that because of Jesus’ posture he was really crying out to God. It was not the kind of prayer you would hear from your typical church on a Sunday morning.