Summary: In this passage, Jesus knows what is in store for Him. He knows that within just a few short hours, He would be beaten and bruised and hung on an old rugged cross. He knows the tremendous task that lies ahead. So He knows He must urgently prepare.
1. Urgently prepare in solitude
2. Urgently prepare in sorrow
3. Urgently prepare in submission
4. Don’t prepare by sleeping
What would you do if you knew what was going to happen to you tomorrow? If, somehow, some way it was possible for you to look into the future—what would you do? Would seeing into the future change your behavior today? If you knew the date of your death, would it change the way you live today? Would it make you live with more urgency? The fact is, none of us knows what tomorrow holds. Most of us know people who have been given a timeline on their life. Some doctor somewhere has told them how much time they have left to live. I’ve got news for you—no doctor in the world can tell a person how long they’re going to live. Because no doctor in the world holds the power of life and death. There is no person in the world that knows the future. But Jesus does. As God, Jesus created time. And He holds time in His hands. He knows the end from the beginning. Because He is the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end. And because Jesus is the only One who knows our future, He warns us to be prepared. He warns us to urgently prepare for our unknown future. He warns us to prepare for the darkness before the night falls. To prepare for the storm while the seas are calm. In our passage this morning, Jesus knows what is in store for Him. He knows that within just a few short hours, He would be beaten and bruised and hung on an old rugged cross. He knows the tremendous task that lies ahead. So He knows He must urgently prepare. In the few short hours of calm, Jesus knows that He must urgently prepare for the storm that lies ahead. So that’s what He did.
Picture the scene with me if you will. Jesus and all the disciples except Judas had just finished the Last Supper. Judas was off plotting and preparing the Lord’s betrayal. But here was Jesus and the eleven. It was already late at night by the time they finished the meal and sang their hymn. They climbed down from the upper room and out into the streets of Jerusalem. They wound their way through those narrow streets, out one of the city gates, and across the southern steps of Herod’s temple. As they were walking away from the city, they went down into the Kidron Valley. When they came out of the Kidron Valley, they walked partway up the Mount of Olives to a beautiful, peaceful grove of olive trees called Gethsemane. Scripture indicates that it was a familiar place to Jesus and the disciples. It was probably one of those few places where Jesus could get away from the crowds and get alone with His heavenly Father. Because of the crowds that constantly followed Jesus, it seems like they had developed a routine when Jesus needed to get away in prayer. They would come to this garden, which like most olive groves of the day, was surrounded by a short wall with a gate. In order to keep the crowds from disturbing Jesus as He prayed, His disciples would sit at that gate. We don’t know how often this happened, but it seems as if it was frequent enough that the disciples knew the routine. But this time was different. This time, Jesus took three disciples in the garden with Him. He took Peter, James and John. Jesus knew what awaited Him in just a few short hours. And He knew what awaited His disciples. He knew how urgently He needed to prepare Himself for the crucifixion with prayer. And he knew how urgently His closest disciples needed to prepare themselves with prayer. Just a little bit earlier, Jesus revealed to Peter that Satan had asked to sift him like wheat. Peter urgently needed to prepare. When James and John’s mother asked Jesus if they could sit at His right and left hand in the coming kingdom, Jesus revealed to them that they would indeed have to drink of the same cup of suffering He would have to. James and John urgently needed to prepare. So Jesus took them along to give them that opportunity. He took them along so that they could see their Lord’s urgent preparation and follow Him in His example. And some example it was. In verse 38, Jesus says that His soul was exceeding sorrowful—even unto death. The words that are translated in verse 37, “sorrowful and very heavy” are loaded with meaning. Have you ever experienced that all-over tingling and numbness from being suddenly terrified by something? The kind that feels like your entire body has been hit with an electric shock? That’s the feeling those words describe. Except it wasn’t a sudden feeling. It was an intense feeling of mind and body numbing heaviness. Excruciating grief. Grief that we cannot even begin to fathom. But don’t mistake the reason why Jesus was feeling that kind of grief. Jesus wasn’t grieving because of the physical pain He knew He was going to have to endure. He wasn’t grieving because of the emotional pain He was going to endure. It wasn’t for the beatings or the bruising or the crown of thorns or the nails. It wasn’t for the humiliation or the rejection or the shame. He was grieving over sin. He was grieving over the fact that He—Jesus Christ, the perfect Son of God—God in the flesh—the perfect, sinless Lamb of God—would within just a few short hours actually become sin. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” Jesus knew that He would soon become sin for us. He would take on your sins and mine. And all of the sins of the whole world would be nailed to the cross. Why was Jesus grieving so intently? Because He knew that, even though He who knew no sin… that as He became sin for us… He would be temporarily separated from the Father. He would have to endure a period of time separated from the perfect, eternal Trinitarian relationship. The Godhead would be broken for a period of time. And Jesus was grieved beyond anything you or I could imagine. Verse 38 says that His grief was almost enough to bring on death. But notice what Jesus did with that grief. He didn’t allow it to paralyze Him. He didn’t allow it to terrify Him. He didn’t allow it to defeat Him or make Him run away from what faced Him. What did He do with it? He used it to prepare Himself. He knew the anguishing task that awaited Him, so He had to prepare with prayer.