Summary: When Jesus went to the Garden, He didn’t go alone. He took His friends with Him because this was a "full court press" kind of praying that He intended to do.
(We showed “full court press” schematics on the overhead. We found them at http://cldj.tripod.com/221fc.html)
OPEN: Up on the screen you’re going to see a few basketball diagrams. Does anybody know what basketball strategy these diagrams are illustrating? (full court press)
According to “Maven’s Word Of The Day” (www.Randomhouse.com) The usual practice in a game is to allow the offensive team to get halfway down the court (which is called a half-court press) or wait til the other team is near the basket before applying strong defensive pressure. But THIS tactic (the “full court press”) involves “pressing” the other team “the entire length of the court.”
Now… I’ve watched basketball games where teams would use this full court press. BUT I never realized they were as complicated and well planned out as this. And whenever a team uses this tactic, the announcers will become edgy and imply that the team with the ball could be in trouble if they can’t get the ball down the court rapidly. Apparently, it’s an extremely effective strategy.
But I’ve noticed that teams usually won’t use this strategy unless they are in serious trouble, or when the game is down to the last few minutes and they desperately need to force a turn-over. You’d think - if this is such an effective tactic - why don’t they do it all the time? But they don’t. Why? Well, as one expert noted: “a full-court press takes a great deal of effort”. Using the full court press can literally wear your team out if you do it too often.
APPLY: When I originally started working on this sermon, I literally picked its title out of the air. Since I’m using basketball imagery in this series of sermons… and since the Garden of Gethsemane is the final action of Jesus before His arrest… I felt a need to use a basketball term that described something a team would do when their game hung in the balance. And “Full Court Press” was the first thing that came to my mind.
Then, as I did study on the text, and I asked myself:
What exactly does the word “Gethsemane” mean?
That’s when I discovered that it meant: “Oil PRESS”
(olive press pictures)
Gethsemane was an Olive Grove. And olive oil was a very precious commodity. Ancient peoples would use oil presses like the ones pictured here to crush the olives. The olives would be placed in large round stone basins like the one we see here, and then they’d be “crushed” by another large round stone that was rotated around the basin by oxen or other domesticated animals.
Full Court PRESS… Olive PRESS. This was almost too good to be true. I thought to myself: there’s gotta be something to this… and there was!!!
1st – Jesus’ prayer at Gethsemane was literally a full court press.
This was not a time of casual prayer for Jesus. This wasn’t one of those “arrow” prayer times we so often engage in as Christians.
You know the type of prayer I mean.
We’re driving along in the car and we’re casually talking to God about something concerns us.
Or we’re laying in bed and we’re talking to God and we pray till we nod off to sleep…
You see, this was the kind of praying that the disciples were used to.
Jesus spends an hour in intense praying and we’re told “…he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. ‘Simon,’ he said to Peter, ‘are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour?’” Mark 14:37
For three years these men had been with Jesus. They’d spent every waking moment listening to Him teach and observing how He lived. But even after these three intense years of being with Jesus, Peter and the others still haven’t gotten the hang oft his “full court press” kind of praying. They seemed to be more worried about asking Jesus “how to pray”
They were a lot like us. Too often we get hung up in “how we pray”… or what to say when we pray.
Karen Earhart wrote the following poem about this (firstname.lastname@example.org)
"The proper way for a man to pray," said Deacon Samuel Keys,
"And the only proper attitude is down upon his knees."
"No, I should say the way to pray," Said the holy Dr. Wise,
"Is standing straight with outstretched arms and rapt and upturned eyes."
"Oh, no, no, no" Said Elmer Slow. "Such posture’s way too proud.
A man should pray with eyes fast closed and head contritely bowed."
(pause) "Well… last year I fell in Hitchkin’s well, headfirst” said Cyrus Brown,
"And both my heels were stickin’ up and my head was a pointin’ down.
"And I made a prayer right then and there, the best I’d ever said.