Presentation on theme: "Presentation 46. Introduction Many people have a special place that they go to when they are trying to grapple with big decisions in their life. A place."— Presentation transcript:
Introduction Many people have a special place that they go to when they are trying to grapple with big decisions in their life. A place where they can without interruption think things through! For some it is a log cabin in the mountains or a quiet place in a forest or a deserted beach. Jesus too had such a place. It was the Garden of Gethsemane and during this visit he seems to have made regular use of it. For Judas was able to predict exactly where he could be found. And it was here in Gethsemane that one of the greatest transactions in all of human history was made!
Presentation 46 An Agonising Prayer Of all the gospel writers only John identifies the place of prayer as a garden. In doing so it is probable that John saw an important contrast between this garden where Christ triumphed and the Garden of Eden where our first parents failed. Think of these contrasts for a moment. First the contrast between what was delightful and what was terrible. Adam and Eve were surrounded by the delights of God’s provision. God had denied them no good thing. They lived in an idyllic world, free from sin and death. And there was every indication that these favours of God would continue unendingly. It is against this background, a garden of delight, that we are to view their disobedience.
Presentation 46 An Agonising Prayer In contrast, in his garden environment, Jesus faced one of the most excruciating deaths known to man. In addition he would be exposed to the unimaginable terrors of the second death - a spiritual separation from the Father. It was from this awful reality that his soul shrank back in terror. Jesus’ heart-breaking cry made upon the cross, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me”, was made in in response to the cup of God’s wrath that that he drained. This is the cup referred to in the garden as Jesus was given a taste of the measure of the horror that awaited him.
Presentation 46 An Agonising Prayer The second great point of contrast between our first parents and Jesus is that they spent their time talking to Satan while he spent his time talking to God. The need for prayer is clearly the thing that was uppermost in the mind of Jesus and you will notice all of his actions are geared to meet it. He prays earnestly himself, while also interrupting his intercession in order to encourage his disciples to be constant in prayer. Why did Jesus feel the need for such prayer? Surely because of the force of temptation. Note that temptation seems to have been uppermost in his mind when he admonished his disciples to pray in v40 and v46.
Presentation 46 An Agonising Prayer We are not privy to Jesus thought processes at this juncture and are only too well aware that as we enter Gethsemane, we stand on holy ground. But it would appear that the main thrust of the temptation facing him was to leave the work of atonement undone: ‘take this cup from me’. This was the very hinge upon which the success or failure of his mission turned. He could have refused the cross. It really was his choice. He was both man and God. He was facing bodily suffering yes! but more than that he was facing spiritual suffering of indescribable magnitude. The temptation to avoid it would have been exceptionally powerful.
Presentation 46 An Agonising Prayer It was the prospect of the sinless Son of God being clothed in the vileness of our sin that caused his holy soul to shrink back in revulsion- revolting as that image is. It was the prospect of experiencing separation from the Father, a Father whose fellowship he had enjoyed throughout eternity, that created such agony of heart; ‘my soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death’. Jesus faced his suffering alone. He was disappointed with the failure of his disciples to provide the encouragement for which he longed, ‘are you asleep. Could you not keep watch with me for one hour?’ Jesus was more alone than anyone has ever been or ever will be. Save for the dereliction on the cross, this is the most alone moment in human history.
Presentation 46 An Agonising Prayer This sense of aloneness may well have given greater force to his temptation: “See Jesus you have no friends now and men are baying for your blood. Your disciples are more concerned about how to profit from your kingdom and who will be the greatest in it than to provide you with sensitive and sympathetic support. Just look at them sleeping – you call that support. Don’t you feel just a little bit abandoned by your Father who sent you on this mission what is he doing to ease your suffering? You are completely and utterly alone.” This kind of pummelling temptation might well explain the appearance of the angel to strengthen him. Lk.22v43
Presentation 46 Costly Obedience Surely one of the main lessons we can draw from this graphic scene is the sheer dependence of Jesus on prayer when faced with the most intense temptation. So much rested upon his obedience to the Father. So much rested upon his being willing die a substitutionary death upon the cross. So much rested on his willingness to be made sin for us. Of course our suffering for Jesus’ sake is not atoning. The path of cross-bearing that we are called to walk along does not lead to separation from the Father. However, our obedient discipleship will come under attack. Our enemy will seek to deflect us from obedience to God’s will. That is when we need this same kind of commitment to pray without ceasing!
Presentation 46 Jesus’ question is one that many ask but which he alone has the right to ask, “If it is possible let this cup pass from me?” Jesus knew the answer, but as he faced the reality of that moment the question was real enough. His obedience would cost him great suffering, suffering beyond all human imagination and comprehension. Gethsemane was not a dramatic performance. It was not a piece of play-acting or theatre. Jesus saw sweating blood such were the intensity of his feelings. Notice that while he asked the same question three times it was in the context of prayer for it is here that submission to the will of the Father is to be found. Costly Obedience
Presentation 46 Jesus question created the most breathless moment in the universe. The angels had been waiting for centuries for the fulfilment of God’s mysterious plan. They had been waiting to see how sin and Satan and all that had vandalised God’s world would be overthrown. All of the O.T. believers who had died trusting that God would be faithful and pay the price of their redemption were waiting. Yes it was a breathless moment! But Jesus knew there was no other way. He knew there was no other truth. He knew that he alone could bring to men abundant and eternal life! Costly Obedience
Presentation 46 In the light of that knowledge Jesus bowed in submission and said, “Not my will but thine be done”. There are different forms of submission. 1.There is the submission arrived at because the situation is hopeless and there is no other option. 2.It is also possible to be bludgeoned into submission. 3.Then submission can be offered in a spirit of bitterness and anger. 4.Finally, submission can be made in a spirit of perfect trust. When Jesus submitted himself to the Father, he submitted himself to a love that would never let him go. Costly Obedience
Presentation 46 Jesus was willing to suffer so that we would be released from suffering and to die so that we would pass through death into life everlasting. He was willing to be clothed in our sin so that we might be clothed in his perfect righteousness. There was and is no other way. Or all this would have made no sense at all. And it is this that leads us to our third contrast. Adam and Eve fell almost instantly as soon as temptation began to caress their thoughts and excite their imaginations. Satan presented his arguments and they quickly ate the forbidden fruit. Jesus on the other wrestled in prayer and only prevailed at the end of this wearisome and exhausting process. Costly Obedience
Presentation 46 The parallel passage in Matthew’s gospel provides a more comprehensive account of Jesus prayer. First, in 26v39 when Jesus asks if it is possible to have the cup removed he adds only if it were God’s will to do so. In his second petition in 26v42 Jesus uses almost the same words but no longer asks for the cup to be removed. Matthew does not record the substance of the third spell of prayer but during it Jesus clearly embraced the cup of suffering that awaited him. Now all of this took time! Some suggest as much as three agonising hours. Overcoming temptation is not as we often assume the decision of an instant. It can take an agonisingly long period of time. And it can take time to win through to a point of victory and submission. Costly Obedience
Presentation 46 This conflict was recorded for our benefit, teaching us how to prevail in prayer when we are under attack, cast down, distressed and tempted. People often assume that to prevail in prayer means to keep praying until God grants our request. But that is not how Jesus prevailed. Jesus prevailed by praying, praying, praying, until his will was conformed to the Father’s will. This brought him victory. When we come to that place of submission in prayer and embrace God’s will, it will not be a case of our will versus God’s will. That is what led to Adam’s defeat. Rather, it will be a case of our will submitting to God’s will. This is what our Lord Jesus Christ accomplished in Gethsemane. Costly Obedience
Presentation 46 Conclusion The world scoffs at the meekness of submission. It glories in its definition of strength. Well, strong men were coming to arrest Jesus. Or at least men they would have considered themselves to be ‘strong men’. Mrs Browning wrote of this kind of this questionable strength: “I too have strength- Strength to behold him and not worship him, Strength to fall from him and not cry to him.” May God save us from strength like that! The world’s strength. The world boasts it has no need of a Saviour. Men boast that they will ‘take their chances with God, if there is a God.’
Presentation 46 Conclusion Darkness seems to reign when men refuse to acknowledge who Jesus is. Darkness seems to reign when men think they can overthrow God with their puny weapons and intellectual arguments. But darkness only has the appearance of reigning for it is God who reigns. By submitting to the will of God, Jesus overcame darkness and secured the salvation of his people. By submitting to the will of God we too will overcome darkness and enjoy the benefits of that salvation. This submission is not always easily won but Jesus has left us a blueprint for victory namely prevailing prayer. ‘Pray that you will not fall into temptation’.