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Days of Destiny, Part 2: Gethsemane

Scripture: John 18:1-11, Luke 22:39-53
Date: 04/22/2006 
This is the second of a six part series on the high points of Jesus' life. This sermon focuses on Gethsemane. Jesus went to the place of being crushed in order that the gift of life can be given to all. Gethsemane marked a special hour in which Jesus bore the sins of the world.
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Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

Morning. For our friends who are visiting I should explain, we are in the midst here at Central Church in a four-part series called Days of Destiny. This would be part two and we’re talking about the great mountaintops in the last week of Jesus’ life. Namely, the Last Supper, Garden of Gethsemane, the trial and then the crucifixion, resurrection. We’re going to direct our attention today to part two, which would be Gethsemane, the Ultimate G-Force. Now that probably needs some explanation. I think most of us here know what G-forces are. The G-forces represents the gravitational forces that you would feel against your body when you are moving suddenly. If you've been in a New York elevator, you may feel G-force. That means as it's going up you suddenly feel this increased pressure or your weight seems to increase because of the G-force.

I understand in New York they may have some elevators that will make you feel 2 G’s. Now what that means is a person that weighs 150 pounds, when they feel 2 G’s is feeling 300 pounds. It's doubling it. And when you're feeling 5 G’s, if you're a jet pilot and you're going around a sharp turn and you're experiencing 5 G's, that would mean that your head feels like it weighs about 80 or 90 pounds, just trying to keep it level. Matter of fact, I've got some quotes here from some pilots that explain these things. “A 200 pound fighter pilot who is pulling 9 G's weighs a whopping 1800 pounds. Every single piece of your body weighs 9 times what it used to weigh,” says Air Force reserve colonel Christian P. Ledett. “It's hard to raise your arms, hard to raise your chin up. You cannot lift your foot off the floor. It's an overwhelming pressure and a pulling sensation. There isn't a single part of your body that isn't affected by the weight.” And one was said that when he was flying with a copilot, and they were experiencing several G’s, though his copilot was in his 20’s, he looked at him and he said he suddenly looked like his father because his whole face went down. Pilots must take intensive training to know how to withstand these G’s. They’ll put them in a centrifugal and they have to go through at least 10 minutes of varying G’s, from 4-8 G’s, and to maintain consciousness. Now these pilots that experience 9 G’s, the only way they can do that. The average person will pass out under 4 G’s.

These pilots wear special pressurized suits. And the reason you pass out is because you’re experiencing these incredible pressure the blood drains from your head to your lower extremities and you black out. And pilots who are on the verge. Matter of fact, before they’re doing maneuvers they need to go out and do some G-turns. That means they’ll do a couple of turns where they’re doing 4 G’s and then 3-4 G’s and then 4-5 G’s just to make sure that they’re up to it. And if they start getting gray and hazy they don’t do the maneuvers that day. Sometimes if you’re not in good health they can black out and that could be fatal from those G’s. Otherwise they’re wearing these special suits. They’ve got both on their legs, and sometimes fuller bodysuits, that are hooked into the plane. When the plane has a sensor that when it is beginning to experience G’s it pressurizes these bladders of air that are in their suits that push their bodies creating a pressure that forces the blood to the mind and the brain and helps them stay alert. Pilots, the old fighter pilots that did not have these during World War II, they did exercises where they would know how to constrict their legs using these isometrics and constrict their abdomen and physically try to force the blood from the rest of their body back to their head, creating an artificial stress. Otherwise, they'd blackout. Well, the reason I'm talking about this is because I think about what Jesus went through in the Garden of Gethsemane. And it really is the ultimate G-forces.

He was feeling not just the weight of two people, or 5-G’s, but picture if you will, the weight of the world pressing on your soul. How that must've felt. And yet He came out the other side of that without losing consciousness, and more important, without losing us. This is our teaching today, to look more carefully at what happened in the Garden of Gethsemane. Now before we get there are a little review is helpful. You remember that we concluded last week with the Last Supper. They sang a song, but then in some gospels it seems like Jesus continued teaching. Part of the reason for that is, there was a teaching that took place from the upper room until He got to the garden. You can read about this in the Gospel of John 14:31, “After the supper He says, Arise and let us go from here.” Now Jesus knows what's ahead of Him. It's almost like he's hastening to the battle. He knows what's coming. From the upper room to the city walls is where a number of very important teachings take place find in John 14, John 15. He’s talking about the vine and branches abiding in me. “If you love me, keep my commandments.” The importance of prayer, “Ask. You have asked nothing at this time. Ask now.” And then the beautiful prayer of John 17 evidently is something that He offers at the gate.

So, here you have His final teaching from John 14 until you get John, the end of John 17, was sort of some final admonition He gave them as He was going from the upper room about to exit Jerusalem. It’s significant that He left the city of Jerusalem. And that’s where He was betrayed. He offers that prayer that you find in John 17. He prayed at the gate of the walls just before He left the city. You remember, He prayed a week earlier on His way in the city and He wept over the city. Now He has this prayer for His church as he’s going out because they are symbolically preparing now to not only preached to the Jews, but to take that gospel from the temple all the way to the world. It was to go everywhere. And notice after in John 18, it says, “When Jesus had spoken these words He went out with His disciples.” Now did you notice that? John 14:31, “arise, let us go from here.” John 18:1, He went out with His disciples. Out of what? Out of the city now. And it goes on to say, “Over the Brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which He and His disciples entered.” John also says that it was one that He had often entered and that’s why Judas knew exactly where to look for Him. Now the Kidron Valley, I’ve been there. I’ve been to the Garden of Gethsemane, in the Mount of Olives, Jerusalem, and there is a very prominent valley that goes between the two. You’ve probably seen pictures of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives. And you’ve probably have seen the walls. Maybe you’ve even seen the gate that was filled in, that was the former Golden Gate.

Interesting story about the Golden Gate, is that when the Muslims finally took Jerusalem, years after the Jews had been scattered by the Romans, they knew that the Jewish history said that the Messiah was going to enter through that gate, the Jewish Messiah. And so to prevent that prophecy from happening, they bricked up the Golden Gate. But they were too late. Christ had already gone through the Golden Gate when He came down the Mount of Olives in about 31 AD. But there’s a valley there. The Kidron Valley is right outside the temple walls. If you go to the Dome of the Rock today there’s this great Mosque of Omar in the place where Solomon’s Temple used to be, and later, the temple of Ezra and Nehemiah, refurbished by Herod. And in the Dome of the Rock, they call it the Dome of the Rock because this mosque is built over a rock. That rock is supposed to be the altar where Abraham offered Isaac. Now, if you're Muslim, they say it's Ishmael. And there, you go to the center of that mosque, and I've seen it. There's a big hole in the rock. And that big hole in the rock is basically a drain. It was a tunnel that drained the blood from the sacrifices from the temple altar to the Kidron Valley. And there it would run from the Kidron Valley and make its way ultimately down to the Dead Sea. The time when Jesus crossed the Kidron was the week of the Passover. Josephus, the Jewish historian who was a contemporary of Christ, he said during the time of the Jewish Passover they sacrificed as many as 250,000 lambs. It was a virtual slaughterhouse.

The blood was flowing from the temple that week. And when it says that Jesus crossed the Kidron you need to understand what that means. In the Hebrew mind, is He crossed over the blood. He crossed over, if you will, a Red Sea. And it was as if Christ was saying, “I am now crossing the line. I'm going to enter into my sacrifice for the human race.” Just like the children of Israel, He had the Passover with them in the city and then He crossed the Red Sea. They ate the Passover in Egypt. They crossed the Red Sea, and then they went through a time of great trial, didn't they? In the wilderness? Sure, they celebrated for a moment, but there was then years of testing and trial that took place. They were attacked by the Amalakites. They ran out of bread. They ran out of water. They ran out of faith. And so He crosses the Kidron. I think it's interesting, if you read in Warren Wezzerby’s commentary, the same way that David fled from Absalom. He left Jerusalem, with His closest friends and He went up the sides of the Mount of Olives weeping and crossed the Kidron. Jesus, the son of David, did the same thing. He basically left the city because His message had been rejected. He was a throneless King, like David. The word Kidron means murky and dark. Gethsemane, on the other hand, means olive press or a place where olives are crushed. Christ was getting ready to enter the place of a darkness where a crushing was taking place. You know why they crushed olives? Not to make olive paste. They crushed olives to get olive oil, which is a symbol of what? Jesus went to the olive press. And then in Acts 2 the Holy Spirit flowed out the other side. Christ was crushed for you and I and He said just prior to this, “It’s expedient that I go through what I’m going through that the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, might come to you. Christ’s sacrifice bought us the right to receive the Holy Spirit. Luke 22:39, “and He came out, and He went as He was wont to the Mt. of Olives, and His disciples followed Him.

Now in the garden there,” matter-of-fact, if you turn in your Bibles. I'm going to read it from Dr. Luke because Luke's account, he says things coming from a physician's perspective that the other authors do not mention. “And coming out,” this is verse 39 of Luke 22. “Coming out, He went to the Mount of Olives, as He was accustomed. And His disciples also followed Him. And when He came to the place He said to them, Pray, that you might not enter into temptation.” What was the big temptation that He was worried they would fall prey to? I'll submit to you that it was a temptation to lose faith. Without faith, it's impossible to please God. Without faith you can't obey. Faith is the foundation. They were getting ready to doubt His entire mission when they saw Him suffer. Why? Because they had this whole preconceived idea of what the Messiah would do. He would flex His muscles like Samson, like David He would bring down the giant of the Roman Empire, and enthrone Himself on the former throne of Solomon, and they would reign in all their glory again. And they had been taught this so often they still had not extricated all of these false teachings from their mind. They still did not understand, even though Jesus said, “I'm going to suffer. I'm going to die. I'll be crucified; I'll rise the third day.

I'll meet with you in Galilee.” He laid it out as clear as He could, but it did not fit in with what they had formerly believed, and it just went [whew!]. I've seen that happen many times. I do an evangelistic meeting where, you know, there are some very prominent, popular beliefs about the second coming. Let me just call it the left behind scenario. That, with all due respect, people who embrace this, I think they are embracing a false interpretation of prophecy. I think it's a fairy tale. It's an unfortunate interpretation. People will come to a series of meetings and that night, I will preach on the biblical, the historical view of last day prophecy. And people will just sit there and drink it in. I'll meet them at the door and they'll ask me a question about the secret rapture as though the whole thing went in one ear and out the other. And I thought, “Didn't they catch it?” And because sometimes we get so entrenched in our view of things that when we hear the truth it just doesn't compute. And when the disciples were about to see Jesus, the Messiah, humiliated and bruised and bleeding and naked and seeming so impotent and overwhelmed and weak, that was so foreign to their picture that they were going to be tempted. Here's the big temptation. To say, “I guess He wasn't the one.”

Isn't that what they said on the road to Emmaus? “We were hoping that He would have been the Messiah.” They had been tempted to lose faith that Jesus was the one. Do we sometimes lose faith that Jesus is the savior, that He can save us? Pray. How do we avoid temptation? Do we need to guess about what the secret formula is, or what did Jesus say? Pray. Pray. In the Lord's Prayer doesn't say, “keep us from temptation”? Yes, it's part of what were supposed to be praying about on a daily basis. “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” “And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw.” First of all, Peter, James, and John, the other gospels tell us, and they left the other group and they were closer to the gate. They went a little further away and then He left Peter, James, and John and He went a stone's throw from them. Basically far enough that they could hear what He was praying because obviously they heard it; they recorded it, right? And He probably wasn't praying quietly, He was praying, groaning, praying out loud. “Father, if there be any other way, let this pass from me.”

You can just see the tremendous G-forces that were upon Him at that time because Luke goes on to say, “He prayed, Father, if it is your will remove this cup, nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done. And being in agony,” verse 44 of Luke 22, “he prayed more earnestly.” You know, when you pray, and you don't get an answer what should you do? Pray more earnestly. “And His sweat became like great drops of blood, falling to the ground.” You've heard that expression, “blood, sweat and tears”? It did not originate with a rock group from the 60’s or 70’s. It actually is a biblical term talking about the agony of Christ. Because there in the Garden of Gethsemane you had the real blood, sweat and tears. Now it does not happen very often, but I have researched it. I've heard it before. I wanted to research and it is in the encyclopedia. It's in the medical encyclopedia.

It is a very rare, but real form of a condition, and I'm hoping I can say it right, hematidroses. “A very rare condition in which human beings will sweat blood. It may occur when a person is suffering extreme levels of stress, or acute fear. For example, facing his or her own death.” This is from the definition. “Under conditions of great emotional anxiety tiny capillaries near the surface of the skin burst. The blood may appear in the sweat and it mixes with the blood and the perspiration. And in severe, severe conditions it may actually coagulate on the surface of the skin.” That's why it says, “appearing is great drops or clods of blood.” Now, you know why this is so important? Jesus suffering for you and me began before anybody touched Him. Nobody had laid a finger on Him, no handcuffs, no beating, no spitting, no names, and His suffering began. So when you think about the cross and the sufferings of Christ, and there are preachers who like to extol all the intricacies of the torture. And I'll probably talk about that in a future subject, but really the greatest burden was the G-forces of having the Father's presence withdrawn and the sins of a whole rebellious race. You know what concentration is. You ever drink concentrated orange juice? I understand that in order to get bee pollen, I forget what it is, but in order to get like a pound of bee pollen 2 million bees need to visit the hive, just to collect a little bit. To make frankincense or some of these rare perfumes, the collection process is extremely intense.

So they can coalesce and melt that all down into this little essence. If you could take sin, whatever the essence of sin is, and if you could melted down, take all the sin in one person's life and put them through a laboratory and squeeze them so just the sin comes out, and go put them in a centrifuge and spin it around so you separate the sin from whatever else was left, you can isolate all the sin, and you get that one drop of concentrated sin from one person’s life. I wouldn’t want to drink that. I wouldn't want to drink your drop. You wouldn't want to drink mine. It would kill you. Yours would kill me. Most of us can barely; our own is going to kill us, isn’t it? Without Jesus. The penalty for sin. Now imagine if you were to take all those drops from this room, the combined essence of the sin, the guilt, the punishment that it requires from everybody in this room. Melt it down, concentrate it a little further. I don't even know how it could maintain liquid form. Then do it with everybody in the world today, roughly 6 billion people. You beginning to get the picture? Then do it with everybody who's ever lived in the history of the human race. Would you want to drink that? All the shame. You know, people, if they repent, the way they should, they weep and heave and sigh and cry over just their sin.

Imagine how crushing it would be to concentrate all of the sin of the world and offer that in a cup to somebody. Can you understand why Jesus would say, “Father, if there's any other way.” The most revolting thing, the most hideous, unpleasant thing to a pure God would be that concentration of impurity. It was asking Him to embrace the very opposite of His essence. And He recoiled, not only from the sin, but He took it in Himself. He became sin for you and me. But what the consequences of that would be. You know, I think far more frightening to Jesus was not just the guilt and facing the consequences, the judgment of sin, death, but the separation of His Father. I believe in God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I don't believe the Father ever existed without the Son. Because in order for God to be love, can one being by themself love? That's to me a slam-dunk. For those who don't believe in the three people of the Godhead, God the Father, Son and Spirit. In order for God to be love, you need to be able to express it and share it. Through the endless ages past, try to picture how far back in eternity you can picture. And then of course, you keep on going forever after that past. Had there ever been a time when Jesus had been separated from the Father? Until Gethsemane.

Can you imagine why that would be horrifying to Jesus? I mean, the rest of the time in His life He was constantly in communion with the Father, but that presents, that sense, was going to be shut off. And sin was so abominable to God that Jesus could not see even with faith how the Father could endure, who was pure, this sin in Him. And so he's praying, “If there's any other way, let this cup pass away from me.” But I'm so thankful that Jesus qualified His prayer the way we should qualify every prayer. “Not my will, but thy will be done.” Matter of fact, that'd be good for you to repeat with me. “Not my will, but thy will be done.” Now there are some prayers, you don't need to ask that. If you're praying about turning from sin, you don't say, “Lord, if it's your will.” You know it's His will. Right? There are some things God's will is so clearly expressed in His word you don't need to say, “If it's your will, that I don't run off with that married woman, or don't drink this alcohol, or take these drugs.” You don't need to pray for that. But there’s some things you may want and you’re not sure if God wants it, you say, “Not what I want, but what you want. Not my will, thy will.” But even when you're wrestling with carnal temptation you've got, the Spirit is fighting with the flesh.

I'll get to that more later. But that's when you want to pray, “Not my will, thy will be done. Not my way, your way. Not self, but love.” That’s what you’re praying when you pray that prayer. And so He, in His agony, prayed that. And it probably wasn’t a pretty sight. Keep in mind, there in the garden no one had touched Him. Jesus was offering Himself when He said, “Not my will, thy will be done.” Three times He prayed that prayer. You know, three times Paul said, “Lord, if you could remove this thorn from me.” And finally God said, “Look, my grace is made perfect in weakness.” And He said, “Fine, I won’t ask anymore. Not my will, thy will be done.” Maybe there are things in your life you’re praying about and God is not giving you a green light because your conscience isn’t clear. You need to finally say, “Not my will, thy will,” and let it go and do what God wants. Amen?

Jesus gave His life. John 10:18, “No man takes it from me, but I lay it down of myself.” There in the garden He offered Himself to endure the ultimate G-forces of sin. And He felt that incredible weight that you and I can’t comprehend. Isaiah foretold this in chapter 52:14, “His visage was so marred, more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men.” Before anybody beat Him or bruised Him or spit on Him, I believe His whole presence was under this tremendous marring of sin that actually brought blood from His pores. Have you ever seen that when a person’s calm they look better than when they’re anxious and stressed? The incredible anxiety and stress aged Him. Matter of fact, when they were wondering if Jesus was who He said He was, He said, “Before Abraham was I am.” They said, “How could you know Abraham? You’re not quite 50 yet.” And it always surprised me that they would guess His age at 50. You remember that scripture? It always bothers me when people guess my age so far beyond my years. [end side one]

… And no, I’m not 50 yet either. Pretty soon. People think Karen’s 20 years younger than me. It’s only 6 years. I just don’t smother my face in cream when I go to bed at night. She’s not here today. I always tell people, “I’m young, but I’m high mileage.” But Jesus, because He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief it actually showed. He spent all His time caring and praying for others. In the Garden of Gethsemane when He was praying; people always ask the question, “Could He have failed?” You know, that's a loaded question. The prophecies tell us that He would succeed. So in that sense, the word could not fail. But did Jesus have a choice? Of course He did. And you just think about the choice He made. He had to have a choice, because otherwise why would He be asking? If He didn't have a choice then His words, “not what I choose, but what you choose,” it's obsolete if He had no choice. He did have a choice. The prophecies knew what that choice would be. And so in that sense, praise the Lord, our future was secure because the word cannot fail. But that's sort of like, you know, it's a catch-22, circular reasoning. And so it can drive you crazy. It's a loaded question.

Jesus could have said, He had the freedom; let me word it that way. Jesus did have the freedom of choice to say, “You know, they're are all snoring out there while they're supposed to be praying for me. How few are going to believe? Is it worth it?” And like Pilate, He could have washed His hands from this rebellious world. He had that power, do we all agree? He had that choice. I am so thankful that He loved me so much that He said, “If it's the only way that I can save Doug, by going through this miserable process, then I'll do it.” You notice He doesn't say, “Father, I am not going to drink any cup.” He said, “If there's any other way to accomplish saving Doug, or you, let me do the other way.” But He never flinched from the choice to save us. Did you catch that? His struggle was not, “Will I save them or will I not save them?” His struggle was, “Is there any other way?” He was dedicated to saving you and me. That's good news. Did He have a choice? Yes He did. I'm so thankful He chose what He chose. And then it says, Luke 22:45, on several occasions, “He rose up from prayer,” this is happening through the night, keep in mind, because morning was going to; you know, by the time the rooster’s crowing for Peter it’s been a night there in the garden in prayer. We don't know how long it was.

He came to check in with the apostles, maybe expecting a word of comfort or encouragement, nothing. The critical moment, what were they doing? Snoring. “Smile and the world smiles with you, snore, and you snore alone,” someone once said. Is this the only time that that's happened? Or do you see other times when the disciples should've been praying and they're sleeping? On the Mount of Transfiguration, Moses and Elijah appear, God the Father speaks. Jesus brings them up the mountain to pray, to encourage them and what are they doing then? You know, I think sometimes, if they had prayed with Him more on the mountain of Transfiguration, they wouldn't have had so much trouble in the Garden of Gethsemane. But they were sleeping there. What does the Lord say is the condition of the church in Matthew 25, when the bridegroom comes? What percentage of the virgins are sleeping? 100%.

Does it need to be that way? Does everyone need to be asleep? You hope at least the watchman’s awake. Some of them must have been at least half awake, because they heard what He prayed. People today are half awake when they ought to be asleep, and they're half asleep when they ought to be awake. Which means that you've got a world full of people who are never really alive. Folks have trouble sleeping at night; they have trouble staying awake during the day. So they kind of go through their life in a daze. I Thessalonians 5, “Therefore, let us not sleep as others do, but let us watch and be sober.” Doesn't Peter say, “Be sober, be awake, be vigilant because your adversary, the devil is going about as a roaring lion seeking whom he might devour.” We've got to be awake; we've got to be watching. He says, “For those who sleep, sleep at night. And those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But let those of us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breast plate of faith and love and the helmet of the hope of salvation.” Romans 13:11, “And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep. For now, our salvation is nearer than we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand, therefore let us cast off the works of darkness.” How does a Christian demonstrate they’re awake?

Are there works that go along with darkness? Didn't He say previously, “Those that are drunk are drunk at night”? There are works of darkness and there are works of day. Christians ought to be doing the works of day. We ought to be awake. Cockroaches come out in the dark, don't they? And you turn on the light and they scurry away. And I tell you, if you find one cockroach in your house you’d better worry, because they multiply. “The night is far spent, the day is at hand, therefore let us cast off the works of darkness and let us put on the armor of light.” What was Jonah doing in the middle of that storm? When he should've been out working to preach and to save he's snoring surrounded with disaster. You know, I wonder sometimes if Jonah isn't a type of the church. I think he is. I think that Jonah is a type of the church both; in the Old Testament God had placed the children of Israel in the midst of the world will to be a nation of priests so that they could share the message and others would be saved. And surrounded with all of the wars and the battles of the moving ages, God's people slept like Jonah. And God's people today, spiritual Israel, is no different. Here we are, you look at the headlines, you can see very clearly we are living in the last days. If ever; the opportunities have never been greater.

I mean, when Jonah finally woke up people got saved. Opportunities have never been; when the church woke up at Pentecost people got saved through out the Roman Empire. We're at that day again. Opportunities have never been greater to preach the gospel. As I travel, and I'm not immune in my own life. You can just hear snoring everywhere in the church. Why is it people who can't sleep at night at home have no problem in church? We need to wake up. I thought about shouting that, but I didn't want to disturb your rest. He comes to the disciples, why did He come to them? Did Jesus want companionship? If He did not want our companionship then why die for somebody if you don't want them around? God wants you, not just to populate some pet menagerie that he's God in heaven, so you're in an aquarium and He can look in every now and then.

God wants you because He wants a relationship with you. He wants you to live forever. If you are not saved He will cry. He wants you to be saved. It's a terrible waste if you're not saved because He paid an awful lot to make it possible. He wants a relationship with you. And so often we, like the apostles, are in different to this God who wants a relationship with us. Especially during times of trial, we need friends. Amen? And you know how hurtful it can be when you need somebody and they are too busy for you. You want a relationship, you want to commune with them, and they have no time for you. Jesus said in John 15:14, “You’re my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing. But I have called you friends. For all things I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” What a privilege that He wants to be our friend. After coming to them on two occasions and saying, “Could you not pray with me one hour?” And they don’t know what to say. They’re kind of half awake, and they’re rubbing their eyes and saying, “Oh yes, we’ll pray with you.” And then pretty soon they get into the posture of prayer, and then they fall over. Have you ever fallen asleep praying? Don’t raise your hand. I bet you were in bed. I’ve done it.

I try to, when I wake up in the morning, I pray first thing when I get up because, you know, you don’t want to go anywhere without prayer. And I kind of rollover, I typically sleep on my side or back, and so I roll over and I fold my hands, and I pray right there on the bed. And then I kneel again later downstairs. And I’m ashamed to say that I’m praying and the next thing I know [snoring]. Or some of you, you’re going to sleep at night praying. And that’s not so bad to go to sleep praying at night, at the end of the day. But some of us are sleeping when we ought to be praying. Jesus goes back the third time, prays the same prayer. And it tells us in Luke 22:43, God sent some angelic support because He had no human support. What a privilege that God would call humans to support the Savior. But when humans fail to do the work they’re supposed to do, sometimes God has no alternative left but to send angels. There are people who have heard the gospel through angels because people wouldn't tell them. “Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven,” probably the angel that had taken Lucifer’s place, “strengthening Him.” Not strengthening Him from the sacrifice and the cross and the trial and the beatings, but strengthening Him for these things. Why does God strengthen us? From trial? Or does He strengthen us for our trials?

Let me read something to you from Desire of Ages, page 693, it's beautiful. “The world’s unfallen and the heavenly angels had watched with intense interest as the conflict drew to its close. Satan and his confederacy of evil, the legions of apostasy, watched intently this great crisis in the work of redemption. The powers of good and evil waited to see what answer would come to Christ’s thrice repeated prayer. Angels longed to bring relief to their divine Sufferer. But this might not be. No way of escape was found for the Son of God. In this awful crisis, when everything was at stake, when the mysterious cup trembled in the hand of the Sufferer, the heavens opened and a light shone forth amid the stormy darkness of the crisis hour. And a mighty angel, who stands in God's presence, occupying the position from which Satan fell came to the side of Christ. The angel came not to take the cup from Christ's hand, but to strengthen Him to drink it with the assurance of the Father's love.” Oh, what a picture that must have been. You know, I don’t want to rush past the experience of the garden without reminding you what this really was is a struggle that was encapsulated in a battle between love and selfishness, between the spirit and the flesh. Jesus was 100% man, and 100% God. And He had to make the ultimate decision not to live as a man would live, but to live, as God would have Him live. Jesus said, in Matthew 26:41 to the disciples, “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Even those of us who are here today, I believe you're here today because you've got a willing spirit. But we know that that's not all that's in the story. Some people think all you need is a willing spirit, it doesn't matter what happens with the flesh. That’s the doctrine of the Nicolatians, the thing which the Lord hates. God wants you to serve Him not only with your spirit, but with your flesh. But we all know the flesh is weak. So what's the solution? Watch and pray, that the spirit will not be controlled by the flesh, but the flesh will be controlled by the spirit. That's what it means to live the victorious life. I Peter 2:11, “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts. As you indulge the flesh it wars against the soul.” I know one pastor who's got this little exercise and he told me that every morning, when he takes his shower (we like a nice warm shower), he says he always turns on the cold water, not just for the therapy of hot and cold. He turns on the cold water and while he's in there trying to stand it he thanks God for his discipline. And he says that may seem peculiar, but he said, “It reminds me every day that sometimes you've got to do things you don't feel like doing because they’re good for you.” And sometimes a cold shower is good for you.

Doesn't always feel good, right? You can go to sleep in lukewarm water. I Corinthians 2:14, “The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, because they’re foolishness to Him, nor can he know them because they are spiritually discerned.” In Gethsemane, we discover there's no evasion of the cross. Now, you know, before I run out of time I want to talk about why Gethsemane was so important. Gethsemane marked a special hour. What happened in the garden of Gethsemane marked a special hour. Matthew 26:45, have you ever noticed how many times Jesus said, “this hour, this hour”? “He came to His disciples and said, are you still sleeping? Behold, the hour is at hand and the Son of man is betrayed into the hand of sinners.” Mark 14:41, “The third time He came and He said, are you still sleeping and resting? It is enough, the hour has come. The Son of man is betrayed.” Luke 22:53, “When I was with you daily in the temple, you did not try to seize me. But this is your hour, the power of darkness.” John 17:1, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son.”

Have you ever read in Matthew, where it says, “As Jonah was in the belly of the great fish, three days and three nights, so Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth”? Three days and three nights. And so many people have gotten all twisted up trying to calculate three days and three nights in the tomb. And the tragedy is that heart of the earth doesn't mean the tomb at all. The word heart their means cardia. It means the midst. It's where we get the word cardiac. “Of the earth,” the tier[?], the world. For three days and three nights Jesus was going to be in the midst of the world paying the penalty for sin, as Jonah. Jonah had all light shut out when he was in the great fish, didn't he? Jesus, in the Garden of Gethsemane, had the light of His Father turned off. His sufferings did not begin on the cross. When did the hour of His sufferings begin? When He crossed the Kidron Brook, Passover with His disciples, went to the garden, “not my will, thy will be done,” and the Father's presence was withdrawn He began to fear the sins of the world. That was the hour.

You see, the penalty for sin is not just death. True, He did die on the cross. He was put in the tomb, but that's not when He was in the midst of the earth. For three days and for three nights Christ was suffering the penalty for the sin, that darkness, represented by the separation of the Father. Like Jonah went wherever the fish took Him, Jesus went wherever the mob took Him. As Jonah was thrown overboard as a sacrifice that the sailors might I did have peace, Jesus, and you know, Jonah offered himself. He said, “Take me up and throw me in.” Christ offered Himself that we might be saved. That was a crucial hour. That was a marking point. That represented the first time in eternity, there in the Garden of Eden, the Father's glory and approval from the Son was withdrawn. That was the hour. Thursday night, Friday night, Saturday night, three days three nights, Christ was in the heart of the earth. It has nothing to do with the tomb. The tomb is part of it, but it's not three days and three nights in the tomb. Three days and three nights in the midst of the Devil, in the midst of a lost world, suffering for the sins of the world, separated from the Father. That began in the Garden of Gethsemane. You know, it's interesting that the first battle where we lost dominion took place in a garden also, didn’t it?

The Garden of Eden, the first Adam, he gave in to the flesh and disobeyed the Spirit. And as a result of that battle, being lost, we've lost the dominion. But because of what Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane, He won the battle against the flesh. He listened to the Spirit, even though He did not feel like it. Trust me, friends, He did not feel like it. Can you say amen? And each of us faces that same battle. I don't believe a flower is going to bloom in heaven that is not watered in Gethsemane. Any of us that are going to blossom in the kingdom there must first have our own Gethsemane. We talk about following Jesus and the death, burial and resurrection, and I think sometimes we forget that we may need to wrestle with God in prayer; we may need some G-forces in the Garden of Gethsemane ourselves. That we join Christ in His prayer, “not my will, thy will be done.”

Have you made that complete surrender? That's what that was. It was the ultimate surrender. “Whatever you want me to do, Father, whatever they do to me, I am placing my life in your hands.” Is that your prayer, friends? As you can see, we've got Fountain View Choir and they’re going to join us in our closing song. I'd like to invite you to turn to this hymn that really deals with the key of what we're really talking about. Have Thine Own Way, Lord, Have Thine Own Way. It's a prayer; it's a hymn that deals with a prayer of surrender. And I'd like to invite you to stand as we sing this together. And I pray that as you sing it you’ll really look at the words and have this be the prayer of your heart. Amen? 567.

[verse]

I was really praying this week, as I prepared for this message, this is again one of those times I just felt like I should take my shoes off, because it really is holy ground. And I knew that if I could help you get this right you'll get everything else right. If you can pray the prayer that Jesus prayed in the garden and really mean it everything else is easy. The greatest battle that we will fight in our parts of following Christ is the one of surrender. It's the battle against self; and if you can really pray that prayer with Jesus, “not my will, thy will be done,” and keep praying that prayer then everything else is possible with God. Would you like to ask the Lord, if nothing else, to help you be made willing to be made willing? I mean, if you're not willing you can say, “Lord, I'm not willing. I don't have faith, but helped my unbelief.

I have the wrong will, but help me be willing to be made willing, so that I can really pray that prayer and mean it, totally surrender.” And if there's anything in your life and the Holy Spirit has put His divine finger on that area that needs surrender, I’d like to invite you to do that now. And you know what that means. To really say, “Lord, what ever it means, I am going to live by the Spirit and not by the flesh, a spiritually minded and not earthly minded.” Is that your desire? Is that your prayer? Let's pray right now.

Father in heaven, we are on holy ground in that we are following the steps of Jesus from the upper room to the tomb. And as we are with Him today in the Garden, and we see that He never wavered in His desire to save us, He just wondered if there was any other way to save us, but was willing to do whatever it takes to save us. That He did not, He was not captured by man, but He laid His life down. He chose to save us. Lord, I pray that our hearts will be both moved and melted by that love, that we will reciprocate by offering up our wills to be transformed and replaced by your own. Lord, and if we struggle with that surrender, then we pray the prayer, “Please help us to be willing to be made willing.” Whatever it takes, Lord, we give you permission now through your Spirit, through Providence, to work in our lives, to help us, to shake us and break us and make us willing to do your will. Bless us all Lord that we might touch the sweat, and the blood and the tears of Jesus in the Garden that were left there for us. And that we might, like Jacob, wrestle and say, “We will not let you go except you bless us.” Be with this church, collectively, with each person, our members and visitors here today. And I pray we'll be different in a better way because we've come to worship you today. In Christ's name we ask, amen.

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The Desire of Ages: Gethsemane to Glory by Ellen White

The Desire of Ages: Gethsemane to Glory by Ellen White
God's Promises




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