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Summary: 2 of 3 messages on the Last Hours of Jesus. This message is about Jesus Prayer in Gethsemane

The Last Hours April 1, 2007 – Palm Sunday

The Last Prayer

When God says “No”

What do you do when God says no? Some people get mad. Some stomp their feet and rage at the forces of the world.

In the movie Forest Gump, Lt. Dan hauls his legless body up the mast on a rope and bosun’s chair in the middle of a terrible squall. There at the top of the mast as he swayed in the wind and the lightning flashed shook his fist at the thunder and challenged God to take him on.

Some curl up and quit. They become fatalists who while they are not angry they are also not engaged. They simply stop caring.

Jesus’ last prayer was an appeal to his father from the deepest part of his existence. And God said No.

Everything has been building to this moment in time. From his baptism in the river Jordon, his three years of ministry, healing, teaching, and training his disciples, everything has converged on this day, this hour, this moment.

Perhaps it was the fact that Jesus was alone. The disciples were there with him but they didn’t get it. They were still looking for a kingdom of men. And while Jesus prayed they went to sleep.

Perhaps it was the sheer weight of the sin of humanity that Jesus was preparing to bear upon his shoulders.

Perhaps it was simply death that was imminent. Death, the separation of the soul from the body – that moment that the light goes out of the eyes and the warmth leaves the skin. Death, when nothing can bring you back. The finality and severity of the closure of life – not only physically, but of the mind and the heart.

There is a separation of the soul from God. When Jesus hung on the cross the sky grew dark, the earth was in agony, and the temple veil was torn from top to bottom.

This is what Jesus faced – alone.

Look at his prayers that night in the garden. He prayed three separate times. The gospel writers give us the gist of his three prayers.

The First Prayer

“Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

Mark 14:36

Can you hear the tone of his voice? He cries out, Abba. This is the most intimate of titles for a father. It is the Aramaic way of saying, Dad, or daddy. It is the voice of a child reaching out to the all powerful and all knowing one.

When I was a little boy my dad could do anything. He was the smartest man in the world. He had the funniest stories and he could throw a football better than Milt Plum. (For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about – Milt Plum was the quarterback of the Detroit Lions in the early 1960’s. When I was a boy they could actually beat up the Green Bay Packers once in a while.)

This is the voice of Jesus here. Daddy, Take this thing away from me! It is a horrible thing that is being required.

Noah was able to save his three sons, his wife and their wives. Noah’s ark carried animals of all kinds and varieties and mankind was saved. There must be another way to save the world. Do it daddy!

Abraham faced it when he took Isaac and tied him on an altar. Abraham had his knife lifted and ready to plunge down into the very heart of the son of the promise when God relented and Isaac did not die.

God can relent again. There must be another way for human kind to be saved. Do it Daddy!

Yet, I will do what you want me to do.

And then he went back to his disciples – who went to sleep while he prayed.

Can you feel his disappointment and his agony? Can’t you at least stay awake and pray with me a little?

The Second Prayer

“…My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

Matthew 26:39b

I’m told that there are five stages in grief.

The first four stages are denial, anger, bargaining, and depression.

Jesus, praying in the garden experienced all of these emotions and feelings. Jesus was grieving his life in the Garden of Gethsemane that night.

This second prayer has a different feel to it. In the first prayer recorded by Mark Jesus was wanting a way out. Daddy – fix this. In this prayer recorded by Matthew we see the honesty of Jesus when he says, “I don’t want to do this thing, if there is any other way… but if I must I will.”

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