Summary: The sorrow, struggle and submission of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.
THE SACRIFICE OF JESUS
For most part of the Gospel accounts, we see the charming side of Jesus - His power to heal the sick; His compassion for the weak and poor; the authority He has when He preached the Word of God. We don’t often see Jesus struggling in sorrow.
Today, we’re looking at another side of Jesus. At the Garden of Gethsemane.
(1) We see JESUS IN SORROW
At this point, the Bible says "He began to be sorrowful and troubled." (v.37). And He said to His 3 disciples - Peter, James and John - "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death."
We’re not used to seeing this side of Jesus. He was so sorrowful that He asked the disciples to "Stay here and keep watch with Me." (v.38). Stay with Me and pray with Me.
Why was Jesus so distressed? Because He understood what was about to happen to Him. It was really a sad night for Jesus:
· Earlier on, while they were eating, he said, "I tell you the truth, one of you will BETRAY me..." (26:21). One of the 12, who have been with Him for 3 years, would deliberately turn his back on Him and betray Him for money.
· And then when they went out to the Mount of Olives, Jesus said to his disciples, "This very night you will all fall away..." (26:31). In order words, "ALL of you will ABANDON me..." Jesus knew they would turn and run - all of them, fearing for their own lives and leaving Jesus to face death on His own. All of them - after 3 years of living & working together with Jesus.
It was extremely sad for Jesus, not simply because His disciples failed Him but that He knows what is before Him. Just two days ago (26:1-2) Jesus said to his disciples, 2"As you know, the Passover is two days away - and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified." Not only did Jesus know He was going to die, He knew HOW He would be dying - by crucifixion, which was the cruellest, most torturous way for a person to die.
Death by Crucifixion was designed to produce the greatest degree of SHAME, and to inflict the maximum amount of PAIN, for the longest possible period of TIME. Jesus knew what was about to happen.
No wonder He "fell with His face to the ground and prayed..." (v.39). According to Luke, Jesus was in such an anguish that "his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground." (Lk 22:44).
(2) We see JESUS IN STRUGGLE
Jesus prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from Me..." (26:39).
We see Jesus’ struggle. The humanity part of Him will cry out against such a pain. Yet His spirit longs to obey His Father’s will. The flesh do not want to go to the cross, but His spirit wants to accomplish the Father’s plan to save the world.
Jesus experienced such a struggle. And He was honest to the Father. There was no covering up or acting tough. What we see in Jesus was total honesty. He shares what is really on His heart! So don’t act tough... Jesus didn’t. Share our struggles with God.
To stand strong, we need to pray. That’s why Jesus said to Peter, "You have to watch and pray... because the spirit is willing, but the body is weak." (v.41). Very often, the flesh (the old self) will tells us to do things our own way, against God’s will. But our spirit knows the will of God and we want to do it right. Jesus says, "Watch and pray, so that you will not fall into temptation." (v.41). That’s the formula - watch and pray, and we will not gratify the desires of our flesh.
THIS WAS MORE THAN JUST A PHYSICAL STRUGGLE, it was a spiritual struggle. Jesus wasn’t thinking just about the nails piercing through His hands and feet. Because in His death, He would be taking on the sin of all humanity.
Isaiah 53:5-6 He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
The weight upon His shoulders wasn’t physical weight - it was the weight of your sins and mine! In plain words, it’s your fault! Our sins sent Him up the cross!
These words by Max Lucado in his book "And The Angels Were Silent" describes the scene well:
"The final encounter of the battle has begun. As Jesus looks at the city of Jerusalem, He sees what the disciples can’t... He sees the Evil One preparing for the final encounter... Hell is breaking loose... History records it as a battle of the Jews against Jesus. It wasn’t.... It was a battle of God against Satan. AND JESUS KNEW IT. He knew that before the war was over, he would be taken captive. He knew that before victory would come defeat. He knew that before the throne would come the cup. He knew that before the light of Sunday would come the blackness of Friday... AND HE IS AFRAID."