Good morning friends and family and thank you for joining us today for another look into God’s Word. Each time I start to write these sermon messages, I am reminded of how lucky we are in the United States of America to be able to speak of the name of Jesus. How lucky we are to still be able to carry our Bibles in the open, yet there are those who don’t like to be seen by non-Christian friends with a Bible. I for one will not be ashamed of the Bible or what’s in it. For those who might feel afraid, ashamed or whatever, I think it’s time to take a deep look into your walk with God.
Last week we looked at some of the things that are going on in many people’s lives who call themselves Christians. Witchcraft, sorcery and horoscopes were some of the issues. What really struck me odd is that even though some of the ones who responded on some of the sites with a big amen are still posting this stuff online. I don’t get it. We looked at scripture that shows it is an abomination to God, yet still they do the will of themselves.
This week I want to touch on a message that I did about five years ago. I really want us to look at what Jesus did for you and me so that we might be saved. Amen? What I really want for all of us to do is picture ourselves as we were with Jesus when He was arrested, beaten and when He went to the Cross. As Pastor Babcock and I mention often, to have that Calvary experience.
I truly believe that Jesus saw all things that would happen to Him from the betrayal of Judas at the last supper, His arrest in the garden, the severe scourging, to the cross and every horrible thing in between. Bible scripture that confirms this is John 18:1-4. If I can have someone read from the KJV and then I will read from the Good News Bible. I don’t usually read from any other version except the KJV, but I want to today. Praise the Lord!!
John 18:1 After Jesus had said this prayer; He left with His disciples and went across Kidron Brook. There was a garden in that place, and Jesus and His disciples went in. 2 Judas, the traitor, knew where it was, because many times Jesus had met there with His disciples. 3 So Judas went to the garden, taking with him a group of Roman soldiers, and some Temple guards sent by the chief priests and the Pharisees; they were armed and carried lanterns and torches. 4 Jesus knew everything that was going to happen to Him, so He stepped forward and asked them, "Who is it you are looking for?"
Throughout this message I will use references from commentaries: Gill, Barnes, Henry and concordances, mostly Strong's.
As if Jesus being nailed to the cross was not cruel enough, imagine what Jesus took to the cross with Him. He is accused for us all bearing the weight of abused children, families destroyed by adultery or apathy, civilizations decaying, wars ravaging, Christians being beheaded in many Muslim countries as I teach, yet through it all, deep in the terror of hell, He keeps His eyes wide open. A portrait of the garden of Gethsemane might look a little bit different than we may have expected. It is not a serene pastural scene, this prayer closet of Jesus’, but rather an agonizing picture of struggle, pause and pain. For who? All for us.
I want you all to listen and get a picture of this in your mind so that you can understand what Jesus went through for you and me. Amen? Friends, what I want us to understand is this. Yours and my salvation isn’t about a Christian concert that we went to with the loud music, light and smoke. Don’t take me the wrong way, I believe some are saved at concerts, but it isn’t about the hype. I love Christian concerts. I would go every chance I got, but salvation is about an intimate relationship with King Jesus. Church, it starts at the cross. It is about being broken. It is about confessing our sins and surrendering our lives to Jesus, making Him Lord of our lives. Amen? Can I hear a halleluiah?
Please turn to Hebrews 5: 7 and 8. This will be the first scripture that we look at. As I mentioned, I want you to picture the events that we look at today in your mind. They should be powerful.
We have entered into the garden. We have entered just as Judas was arriving with 600 armed Roman soldiers, temple police and a mob of others who have come to arrest Him, yet they found Him ready and waiting for them. He was composed. He was submissive, helpful. Catch this, friends. He was in authority. He had great composure. How could He, although God 100% and also man 100%, be so composed and sure? The answer to the question of His composure was a direct result of His perspective. He knew that the cup He would drink was the cup that would come from His Father's hand. My question is how did He get such perspective? If you look at the summary of what happened in the garden, Hebrews 5:7 and 8 gives it to us.
Hebrews 5:7 Who in the days of His flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto Him that was able to save Him from death, and was heard in that He feared; :8 Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered;
I don't believe for a moment we can appreciate the story of the garden unless you view Jesus as a man. And you have to reformat your way of thinking as you view Him in the garden as He struggles. And it will be a great help to you because He, Jesus is the model man for you and me with our Gethsemane garden with whatever we may be going through. We will watch Him in this story and we will marvel and we will ultimately worship this lamb. Amen??
What we are about to see in the garden is nothing less than Jesus Christ. It is a shocking scenario and I think we can understand it best if we see Him digging His grave. He is looking into an open pit and it crushes His spirit. For the man, Jesus doesn't want to die any more than you or I would want to die. And yet that grave in the garden will signify His willingness. His actions will signify testament. His testament that He was willing to die for you and I.
Please turn to Matthew 26:36. As we read earlier In John chapter 18, Jesus was entering into the garden. I found that Matthew painted a more detailed picture.
Matthew 26:36: Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane. And He said to the disciples, sit here while I go and pray there.
Now picture in your mind a garden a little different than your garden or even your neighbor's garden. Jerusalem was a crowded city. There were people pressing on every corner. For a little farming history on Israel at that time, they had laws that restricted against private gardens in the city proper. They also had an old sacred law of this sacred soil prohibiting the spreading of manure. I'm sure the people of Jerusalem being crowded appreciated that law. Amen? Outside the city some wealthy families had gardens, especially at the base of the Mount of Olives, and the residents would garden there usually on an acre or two. They would raise olive trees and flowers and there were beautiful rock walls around their plot. Evidently Jesus had a very wealthy friend. And this friend let Jesus retreat to this garden for prayer.
Let’s continue reading. Matthew 26 :37: And He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee with Him, and He began to be sorrowful and very heavy.
Now why did He take these three and station them there? Here are few suggestions. One, they were there for His protection? I don't think that was it. With one breath He could have knocked the ones coming to arrest Him on their backsides. Was it companionship? As we will see later they didn't offer that. I think I would believe in this choice, instruction. He was about to show His three closest friends His agony and before they nodded off to sleep they would see enough and they would hear enough and it would come back and haunt them and most importantly instruct them.
Jesus is going to show them how you prepare to go to the cross and how you walk in a lonely garden? Jesus is going to show them this. There are two important words that show His emotions. You have to remember, He is Man. A God-man. In verse 37 it says He began to grieve. Some versions say sorrowful, rendered or troubled. It implied a shrinking back from a horrifying experience. An experience, some ancient writers wrote, that He cannot get away from.
Friends, we need to remember Jesus Christ is not an actor. Jesus is not knowing that one day people are going to be studying this and He is drumming it up. Don't think He is play-acting. This is for real. He is full of sorrow. Remember we read in John 18:4: Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon Him. The next word is distressed. Other translations use heavy, troubled, sad or anguish. What a picture. Why such agonies for this God man? Matthew 26:38: Then saith He unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with Me.
Why this distress? Why this surrounding of sorrow? Was it because of the betrayal of Judas? Could that have impacted Him? I would doubt it, although you or I probably would have been. Was it the denial of Peter? The man that Jesus had spent so much time, energy and patience with, and now Peter will curse that he never knew Him. Could it be that the nation of Israel had rejected Him, He the one that would save them, then hear their cries "we have no king but Caesar [Crucify Him]." Perhaps. Could it be the injustices of it all? He, the Creator of justice, now unjustly treated. Maybe. Maybe it was loss of intimacy and fellowship with the Father. He will cry, “My God, My God why have You forsaken Me”? The word is why have you abandoned me? Could it have been because He would become sin for you and me? A man that had never known the stain of sin? I think it was all of these things and multiplied millions of times and that is why He was crushed with despair.
Mark 14:34 and 35: And saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch. :35: And He went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him.
I have seen paintings showing Jesus in the garden on His knees with His hands clasped looking up in the sky praying. I cannot picture this scene like that at all. Don't throw those pictures away if you have one. I am sure Jesus prayed like that at some point.
What scripture says is that He fell to the ground and prayed. Hebrews says that He prayed with huge tears. Imagine the Son of God, the Savoir of the world staggering around falling to the ground praying and crying. Getting up, stumbling, falling down and praying over and over. The Lamb of God about to be killed.
Here is another scene. Luke 22:44: And being in an agony He prayed more earnestly: and His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
The medical community would call this Hematedriosis. The capillaries under the skin would burst and clots of blood would mix with sweat of the person under great duress, and said to be like blood and water. Think about that. Jesus shed blood in the garden, too.
A sermon called What Satan Didn’t Know, referred to Jesus shedding innocent blood before He went to the cross. I would suggest that everyone listen to that sermon and I can send you an MP3 file if you want.
Now what did he pray? He, the model for us. The gospel accounts record basically the same thing. Please turn to Matthew 26:39.
Matthew 26:39: And He went a little further, and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me: nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou will. Again, in Mat 26:42: He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O My Father, if this cup may not pass away from Me, except I drink it, Thy will be done. Some versions use Abba Father. In Aramaic terms, Abba Father is the term of dependency. It is a term of possessive endearment. Some have taken that word and translated it to daddy. I personally think daddy falls way short.
Daddy is an American word, not necessarily an intimate term, and may trivialize Him. Some kids call their earthly father daddy. Especially when they want something. Do we remember back that far? I used to, but we grow out of that. In fact, most would be embarrassed now to call their earthly dad daddy. Now it would be dad. The Aramaic term Abba father is such a precious word because it is possessive. It simply means my Father, mine (my father) He is mine. It is so important for us to learn that because here in this garden you would think that in this great distress, it would drive Christ to do what we would be tempted to do, and that would be to say, "Are you really mine? Where are you? Are you really my father?" Yet we come to the false conclusion that pain means the absence of God, and if He really were mine, this wouldn't happen. Jesus models it well when He says with that same kind of Christ-like maturity that we should have when we go through our garden. We should pray "My Father", that is, "I know You're mine and I trust You as mine and I know You haven't left me and I know You will always be there for me." This is a great lesson for all of us. Back in verse 39, Jesus is struggling. "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me." Shocking word. Verse 42 again "My Father, if this cup may not pass away from Me, except I drink it, Thy will be done." Now remember the cup is a categorical term for all the suffering of Jesus Christ, His betrayal, His crucifixion, His death, His abandonment, that His God, the Father, will turn His back on Him, God the Son. That doesn't mean that the Trinity ceases and now is turned to a duality. It simply means that God the Father ceases to be intimate with God the Son. And the Son ceases to have fellowship with God the Father for these hours. And that is the cup here. Fellowship will be lost while God the Son becomes filthy sin.
Do you know what it means when He becomes sin? For He that knew no sin? I don't. We can try to understand, but our puny little minds can't come close.
Think about this for a moment. These are words from Mark Mosley, a Christian writer. I tried to find the book online, but I couldn't find it. He wrote, Jesus will bear the sin of the Assyrians who gloated over their captives they skinned alive. Jesus will bear the sins of SS troops gunning down women and children running from burning synagogues with clothing burning ablaze. Jesus will bear the sins of child molesters making sure their victims never testify. He will bear the sins of Pharos sacrificing thousands of laboring lives to build a deifying tomb. Jesus took on all of this and more. He was tossed about in the endless storm of enraged fathers beating toddlers to their deaths, pimps seducing run-aways into lives of drugs and prostitution, Canaanites burning their children to Moloch. Nice church ladies cannibalizing over other nice church ladies over coffee. Impoverished parents in China selling their children into slavery. He will bear the sins of Bible-believing leaders praying long and loud while their wives sit in the back of many churches hoping their make-up covers their bruises. Jesus will tumble alone. He will bear the sins of embezzlers, gangsters, bullies, rapists, liars, thieves, the indifferent, sadistic, and self-righteous. It's a scene of unbearable horror, and unspeakable magna. He is the accused for us all, bearing the weight of abused children, families destroyed by adultery or apathy, civilizations decaying, and wars ravaging. But through it all, deep in the terror of hell, He keeps His eyes wide open, just a by-stander caught in the accident.
Let’s turn to Philippians 3:10 and I want you to see what Apostle Paul wrote.
Philippians 3:10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection. And we put a period right there. Yet he says more. And the fellowship of His suffering. Hebrews already said it, and we read it, that He the Son, being a man, though God would learn obedience through the things He suffered.
That is the purpose of what you go through. The garden you may be in or have been in, or will be in is for learning obedience so that the Father will chisel you into the image of that Lamb. I have seen a video of a skit that was done in a church, where there were two characters. One, an individual, like you and I. the second, was Jesus. During a conversation, this Jesus was chiseling away things that you and I hate to let go of.
Do you know how tragic it is for you and me to go through suffering and not learn obedience? Do you know what that means? That it is wasted. We have sorrowed for nothing. We have experienced pain with no spiritual productivity. What a waste that would be. Remember that intimacy with God does not erase the potential for pain. Fellowship with God does not help us avoid the gardens. It helps us walk through the gardens like Jesus did.
I heard a story once of a man who lost his eye due to cancer. He went into that operation not knowing if he would come out of that operation with one eye or two eyes. When he came out, the doctor told him he would be wearing a patch because he did lose one of his eyes. That would be the launching pad for his ministry, and he would be known to thousands of children as Patch the Pirate.
Here is his testimony. "Know I can see," he says. Testing comes from above. God strengthens His children and purges in love. My Father knows best and I trust in His care. Through purging, many fruit shall I bear. Oh rejoice in the Lord. He makes no mistake. He knows the end of each path that I take. For when I am tired and purified, I shall come forth as gold.
Recognize that when you're in the garden, close friends can be reassuring but they cannot be replacements for the Father.
Let's take a look at Jesus' associates and we will close. Let’s look at what’s going on with His closest friends on earth.
Matthew 26:40 And He came to the disciples, and found them asleep, and said unto Peter, What, could you not watch with me one hour?
His, (Jesus), 3 closest friends on earth. Ouch......that hurt!
Matthew 26:41-43 Watch and pray, that you enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. 42 He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. :43 And He came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy. And He left them again to pray a third time and went away saying the same thing. Then he came to them again and said, "Are you still sleeping? Taking your rest? Behold the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. Arise. Wake up Peter, James, John, we must be going. Behold, the one that betrays Me is in hand."
As I read these passages in Matthew over and over, it didn't hit me until later. I guess that's why they call it the Living Bible. Jesus specifically asked His 3 closest friends to pray with Him. Two times He said "Men will you pray too?" And Peter and James and John slept. "Will you watch with Me? Will you share my burden?" And His 3 closest friends on earth dozed off. But what a wonderful lesson here. You know one of the ways you will know you are experiencing a Gethsemane? Is that no one will go through it with you (your wife, husband, brother, sister, children, best friends). No one except the one who has already gone through it alone.
This Lamb of God...The message He can communicate to you and me is this: I understand. I walked through Gethsemane. I know what it's like to be surrounded by sorrow. I can tell you the Father understands as well.
So in the garden, Jesus looks into this grave and He, being God can take in all of the horror of that moment He will face, and from this moment forward, He will walk to the cross without ever a moment of hesitating, without any more recoil, without any more prayers (Father, could there be any other way?) And that garden stands as a testimonial to His willingness to die for you and me, as He walks from the garden to the cross. He, the Lamb shows us how to walk through our garden, too.
My friends, what are you going through? Is it health issues, or finances? What trial, might it be? There is not one problem or sickness that Jesus didn’t over come. There is not one problem that you might be going through that He won’t hear. Will you share that with Him today? I have said this many times….I don’t know your heart, but there is one who does. I don’t know what burdens you have, but Jesus does. I don’t know the sickness you maybe going through, but I know one who can heal you. There may be someone who has chains of bondage that seems to be strangling you. Again there is power in the name of Jesus to break those chains. Will you leave those burdens at the cross today? Will you leave them at the feet of He who came to save the world?
For someone who might be hearing this, or reading this at another time. Maybe you didn’t know that Jesus went through all this for you. I assure you, He did. Jesus, (GOD) came down from Heaven as a man not to condemn the world, but to save it. He wants to free you from bondage. He wants to give you life. Oh friend, today is the day for salvation. Tomorrow may never come. Look at the natural disasters that are happening almost every day. Look at other disasters that we didn’t know were coming. We can see where someone in our community died almost every day and they were an innocent bystander. Look at the train wreck up in Canada, or the plane that crashed in California yesterday. Friends, we could die today from something.
I want to look at one last scripture and we will close. I want you all to really think on this verse, and if you read the following comment and reaction from Pilate, it may bring more meaning.
John 18:37 KJV Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.