Summary: Second of four messages which follow Jesus' movements to the cross and beyond.
AM sermon preached at Central Christian Church March 9, 2008
Jesus at the “Cross”roads sermon series. The Off-road Excursion
Last Sunday morning we began a new sermon series called Jesus At The “Cross”roads and we looked at Jesus’ determination to walk the road that would take Him into Jerusalem. Jesus knew when He made that last trip into the city that it would only be a matter of days before the people would turn against Him. He knew that once the tide had turned He would be mocked, beaten and crucified. Jesus also knew that that had been the plan all along. It was for that very reason He had left the glory of heaven and become a human being. Jesus came to earth so He could die on a cross and pay the price of our sins. Jerusalem was where all of this was to take place. He knew it. He knew the time had come for that last trip and He had decided nothing was going to keep Him from going there.
This morning we’re going to catch up with Jesus in the midst of an off road excursion, a little but oh so important side trip Jesus took after arriving in Jerusalem but before He travels the road leading to the cross. Today we find Him in the Garden of Gethsemane, a place Jesus often retreated to, located on a hill called the Mount of Olives. Before we read what happens there I think it would be good for us to catch up on some details and fill in some blanks as to what’s happened since Jesus made that decision not to let anything or anyone keep Him from going into Jerusalem.
Last week we saw how Jesus set His heart on going to Jerusalem. That’s exactly what He did. And when He got there, His arrival generated a lot of fan fare. And here’s why, the locals saw Jesus as something of a prophet, healer hero type. So when He got close to Jerusalem, crowds formed an impromptu parade. They shouted “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” Pretty much everybody, except the religious leaders, was smiling and grinning and having a grand ole time. They waved palm branches in the air and if they’d had a street sized red carpet they probably would have rolled it out ---but apparently they didn’t so they improvised and threw their coats on the road in front of the donkey Jesus was riding into town. It was Sunday and everybody was celebrating.
The next day---On Monday Jesus had something of a violent run in with some of the traders and money changers which ended with Jesus overturning their sales tables, grabbing up a whip and chasing them from the temple. In spite of that run in Jesus took some time to do some teaching in the temple. He stayed the night on the Mount of Olives. As Tuesday unfolded, it looks as if Jesus spent the most of His day teaching in the Temple. When night rolled around He again retreated to the Mount of Olives. We’re not given any information about how Jesus spent Wednesday, many Bible scholars believe Jesus simply took the day off and rested. It’s sheer speculation. But Thursday we know something about it. He spent it with His disciples, celebrating the Passover meal with them. When the meal was over, they sang a hymn together and then went back to the Mount of Olives---just like they’d done the previous three nights. Only this night was different. Because on this night Jesus was going to be arrested. Open your Bible if you have it with you to Matthew 26. I’ll begin reading at verse 36…