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Journeying into Gethsemane: Staring into the Cup

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1.      Christ is Distressed

a.       The priority of prayer

b.      Taking three disciples?

            i.      Take in context of what Peter and the rest probably just said

            ii.      Why these three? Not for His benefit, but for theirs

c.       Unusual response from Him

            i.      All past accounts record Him having great courage and strength, not distress

            ii.      Why this response? Transition

1.      Contemplates the wrath of God

2.      Begins to experience abandonment

2.      Christ is Deserted

a.      Rejection includes

            i.      God – would forsake His Son and pour out His wrath

            ii.      Disciples – the three would fall asleep, and all would fall away

            iii.      Judas – one of the 12 is the leader of the group brought to arrest Jesus

            iv.      Peter – instead of dying with Christ he denies Christ

            v.      Israel – they fail to recognize their Messiah and cry for Him to be crucified

           vi.      ***HE IS ALONE****

b.      Realization of the wrath

            i.      The cup

1.      What is it?

a.       Jeremiah 25:15 – a cup of staggering and madness

b.      Isaiah 51:17 – a cup of reeling

c.       Revelation  14:10 – a cup of fire, brimstone, and His anger

2.      Summarized – it is a picture of the full, righteous, and furious wrath of God against the sin of mankind. It is “all the fury of the Mount St. Helens eruption concentrated within a coffee mug.”

3.      Jesus entered the garden, “to be with the Father for an interlude before His betrayal, but found Hell rather than Heaven open before Him.” Cross Reference Isaiah 53

4.      We would not want to experience this wrath, but how much more the Holy One of God.

c.       Response to the disciples

            i.      Spoken to Peter, applicable to all

            ii.      Sympathy and compassion are clear

1.      The imperatives convey a continuous action, their prayer is not to be for 5 mins. But extended period.

            iii.      Yet another cutting wound, his closest friends could not support him

d.      Reaction to His prayer

            i.      Silence – he prays three times and each time he is met with silence. Why is the Father silent in this His Son’s great time of need? Don’t doubt for a millisecond that if there was an alternative that the Father would have provided it. But there was no alternative. My friends the silence in this passage is deafening. Heaven is silent. God the Father is silent. Why if the Father loves His Son is He silent? Why?!?! Listen to this quote as one pastor wrestles with this same question…

“Listen carefully to a very familiar verse for the first time. God so loved the world…that He was silent when the Savior in His sinless humanity appealed for an alternative. God so loved sinners like you and me that He was silent. There is no alternative. There is only one way to realize God’s holy hostility to us in our sin and to reconcile us in our wickedness to a Holy God. There is no alternative.” C.J. Mahaney

        ii.      Submission

3.      Christ is Determined

Application

·         Recognize His love for you in his darkest hour– you can’t enter Gethsemane without being confronted with your sin. The appalling nature of our sin should strike us because this is what our sin required.

·         Receive His care for you in His darkest hour – there is immeasurable encouragement for us in the Garden. But His suffering is unique. Our only hope is that we don’t go through Gethsemane. But his Gethsemane becomes our hope that He understands what we are going through. We should not say that we have or are going through our Gethsemane, because no one else will ever go through something like that.

John 18:1-11

Courage vs. 1-3

Power vs. 4-7

Care vs. 8-9

Compassion vs. 10-11

We should note something very important here, even though he was the Son of God, here we find Jesus praying before facing this, the reason he came to earth. The last man that you would expect to need to pray. But he is the first one we find praying here. If the disciples were smart, they would have known that Jesus was about to be betrayed and taken to be killed. Jesus had repeatedly warned them of His coming crucifixion, but they obviously did not pay attention or were unable to discern the clear signs. Furthermore, Jesus did not come to this Garden unaware that men were on their way to arrest him and eventually kill him. He knew what happening. He is the one who set his eyes on Jerusalem and would not be deterred on his journey there. He repeatedly faced the opposition in his life without fear, distress, or a second thought. On the human level, He was crazy to do what he did. Coming to Jerusalem was ludicrous on a human level.

After getting to the Garden, he takes Peter, James, and John with him a little further. He probably left the just at the entrance of the Garden. Why did he take these three disciples? These men served as apparent leaders of the group of disciples as a whole. Peter was probably the leader of the whole group, as he was the most outspoken one of the bunch, as we just saw on the way to the Garden as Peter is the one who said that he would die before he would betray Christ. I highly doubt that Jesus took them along for His benefit, because I’m sure that he knew that they would provide little if any assistance to him as they slept. In fact, it probably served as more of a discouragement than an encouragement, because in the time that Christ needed them the most, they were sleeping. In the time of His greatest need, what do we find these men who said they would never betray Christ? What are they doing? SLEEPING!!! I believe that he took them along for their benefit. Here he shows them that true leaders pray, especially in times of great need.

This grief to the point of death is something very different and unexpected in Jesus’ ministry. Never before have we seen Him like this. For his whole ministry, he was walked into difficult circumstances, unfazed. Why? Here we encounter we discover what it meant to him to bear away our sin. His sinless humanity is revealed to us as He contemplates God’s wrath against our sin. Here in the Garden he contemplates what is will cost him, what he will have to experience to take away our sins. Now what is this cup that he speaks of? What in the world is so terrifying about a cup? What would cause him to react in this way? Because here in this Garden, in this peaceful place, he contemplates the cup that will be poured out from heaven onto him while he is on the cross. The cup that he contemplates is the cup of God’s full, furious, and righteous wrath against sin. In Isaiah 51:17, the cup of God’s wrath or anger is described as one of reeling or staggering. In Psalms 11:6 it speaks of the contents of the cup of the wicked as containing brimstone and burning wind. This cup was not his to drink. He did not earn or deserve this cup. This should have been my cup. It should have been your cup. This cup that caused our Lord and Christ to stagger and fall to the ground should have been yours.

Jesus entered the garden, “to be with the Father for an interlude before His betrayal, but found Hell rather than Heaven open before Him.”

What does he do as he falls prostrate on the ground? He prays one of the most honest and heart bearing prayers we’ve seen. He says, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” In Mark, we read the added, “Abba! Father!,” which has the connotation of the English daddy. It is a term of endearment and love. He the Son of God asks, beseeches and pleads with His Father, asking if there is any alternative to the one set before him. If there was any other way for Him to provide salvation for mankind. Even though he longs for another way, he explicitly submits His will to the Father. His humanity is on full display here. Anyone who denies the humanity of Christ has obviously not thought about the Garden for any length of time. He does not want to experience this wrath. His whole body cries out because of the overwhelming and crushing wrath in this cup. So if there was a way for this cup to pass from Him.

After praying this first prayer to His Father, Jesus returns to Peter, James, and John. What does he find when he returns? Them SLEEPING!!!  While he addresses Peter, the same could be applied to James and John. When he says, “keep watching and praying,” the verbs in the Greek indicate continuous action. This is not something they need to do for 5 minutes and then stop, but an action that needs to define them. In the shadow of the greatest crisis any of them had ever faced, prayer is the best means of preparation afforded them.  We do not find Christ demeaning in this verse, but very caring as he makes it clear that he understands that the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Our great high priest is one who can sympathize with our weakness, because he experienced many of the same things that we do (Heb. 4:15).  He knew what it was like to be tired and hungry. So here we seen the tenderness and love as he could have very easily responded much harder, but he did not. Nevertheless, it must have been extremely hard for him to come back and find his friends sleeping when they should have been praying. The people we love and care for the most so often have the greatest power to wound us. The abandonment is so stunning here. After coming back from realizing how he would feel the wrath of God, perhaps there would be some consolation from his disciples. But no. There is no one. He is completely alone as he faces this. What is the temptation? To respond improperly to the events of Christ’s arrest and death.

Stress the importance of prayer to those who are going through difficult times or temptation for it is the only way to defeat it.

There is not prayer like the one offered in adversity. Lawson

This cup is none other than the divine wrath of God as he bears the sin of His people. In this prayer is our lord’s commitment to do the will of God, no matter what. Lawson

“God so loved the world…that He was silent when the Savior in His sinless humanity appealed for an alternative. God so loved sinners like you and me that He was silent. There is no alternative. There is only one way to realize God’s holy hostility to us in our sin and to reconcile us in our wickedness to a Holy God. There is no alternative.” C.J. Mahaney

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