Sapphire Sky

October 10, 2015

The Garden

Filed under: encouragement, theology — Tags: , — Steve Knaus @ 10:12 pm

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The garden.

Gethsemane.

There were moments in the life of Jesus Christ when he suffered greatly, but this was total agony!

Here, in the garden, is the greatest struggle that Jesus will face. He will endure hardship, torture, and death at the hands of men on the way to the cross. But there was no struggle as he went to his death. The great struggle for Jesus Christ was here in the garden, in Gethsemane.

At the beginning of his ministry, Jesus said, “my food is to do my Father’s will” (see here). But now the horror of the cross draws near and it terrifies Him! It is not the physical pain that Jesus Christ fears, but the separation from His Father. He, the one who knew no sin, will take upon himself the guilt of all the sins of the world!

Jesus contemplated his upcoming death on Tuesday. The thought about what he was going to suffer horrified him, but Jesus refused on Tuesday to ask the Father to save him (see here).

But now it is Thursday night. The horror is so intense that Jesus struggles in anguish. He drops to his knees. He falls to the ground. He picks himself up, only to fall again. His blood vessels burst, and the blood mixes with sweat. God the Father sends an angel to comfort Him and keep Him alive.

Jesus refused to pray for deliverance on Tuesday, but now He asks for it three times! “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me!” He cries out to the father was a plea of a child, “Abba, father!” That is to say, “Daddy help me!”

You may have seen the popular pictures of Jesus in the garden. In the pictures, Jesus is gently kneeling next to a large boulder with a serene look on his face. A ray of light illuminates Jesus and the ground around Him. Jesus looks sorrowfully and wistfully at the sleeping disciples in the background. In some pictures, he even has a halo on his head.

The true picture of Jesus Christ in the garden is anything but placid and serene. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is subjected to more suffering and conflict in that garden than we will ever understand. His struggle is filled with stumbling and falling, with loud wailing and tears, and sweat that was mixed with blood!

Hebrews 5:7
In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.

Gone is the eloquent prayer that he prayed as he left Jerusalem (see here). Matthew and Mark show that Jesus was filled with dread as he approached the garden. He left eight of his disciples and continued deeper into the garden with Peter, James, and John. He leaves those three and continues on alone.

He commanded his disciples to “watch and pray”. If there was a time when He needed companions, it was now. But as He goes on alone, the weariness and the sorrow of the day have taken their toll on the disciples. They fall asleep. Jesus is alone.

After struggling in prayer for an hour, Jesus returns to his sleeping disciples. He wakes them up and rebukes Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me for one hour?” He then warns the disciples to be alert and pray so that they do not enter into temptation. He knows that they want to follow him, but they do not know their own weakness. “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak”.

Jesus returns to His struggle in prayer, only to come back to find the disciples sleeping again. Leaving again, He returns for a third time into the garden to pray. His prayer is now complete and the struggle has ended. He returns to the sleeping disciples.

The time for sleep has come to an end. The time for prayer has ended. The enemy is at hand.

“But in that night the fierce wind of hell was allowed to sweep unbroken over the Saviour, and even to expend its fury upon those that stood behind in His Shelter.” – Alfred Edersheim [5]

“He disarmed Death by burying his shaft in His own Heart.” – Alfred Edersheim [5]

“The whole of the tremendous debt was put upon his shoulders;
the whole weight of the sins of all his people was placed upon him.
Once he seemed to stagger under it: ‘Father, if it be possible.’
But again he stood upright: ‘Nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done.’
The whole of the punishment of his people was distilled into one cup;
no mortal lip might give it so much as a solitary sip.
When he put it to his own lips, it was so bitter,
he well nigh spurned it—’Let this cup pass from me.’
But his love for his people was so strong, that he took the cup in both his hands, and
At one tremendous draught of love He drank damnation dry, for all his people.
He drank it all, he endured all, he suffered all;
so that now for ever there are no flames of hell for them, no racks of torment;
they have no eternal woes;
Christ hath suffered all they ought to have suffered, and they must, they shall go free.”
– C. H. Spurgeon [9]

 

Previous post: The Lord’s Prayer


John 18:1
When Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered.


Matthew 26:36-46
Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”


Mark 14:32-42
And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.” And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy, and they did not know what to answer him. And he came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”


Luke 22:39-46
And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.


John 18:1
When Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered.

Luke 22:39
And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him.

In just a short phrase, John says, “he went…across the brook Kidron”. This short phrase is loaded with meaning.

The Kidron valley is the steep valley that borders Jerusalem on the east. Jesus had celebrated the Passover meal with his disciples in the “upper room” on the Western Hill of Jerusalem (see here). He then walked with them across the entire city of Jerusalem, passing the temple (see here), and exiting the city on the eastern side.

Their destination, on the opposite side of the Kidron valley, was the Mount of Olives. Jerusalem citizens were not allowed to have gardens within the city limits, but very wealthy would have gardens in the outlying areas, such as the Mount of Olives [1].

There was apparently a wealthy landowner in Jerusalem who had given Jesus access to his private garden. Jesus would often stay there with his disciples (John 18:2; see also John 8:1-2).

But John stops the narrative to point out that Jesus crosses the brook Kidron. There are some very significant points about this crossing:

Jesus has left the city of Jerusalem behind him. The Jewish leaders have been unable to kill Him because of the large crowds (see Matthew 26:5; Mark 14:2), but he is now away from these crowds. Jesus is now in danger.

Also, this same brook Kidron was the scene of another famous crossing in Israel’s history. King David had also crossed this valley when he fled from his son Absalom’s conspiracy. David also had been rejected by his own family and betrayed by a close friend (2 Samuel 15).

“Both David and Jesus were throneless kings, accompanied by their closest friends and rejected by their own people.” – Warren Wiersbe [2]

Finally, this was the Passover season. The temple mount was directly above them, where tens of thousands of lambs had been sacrificed that day. The blood from these lambs was drained from the temple, into the valley, and away from the city. The brook Kidron would have been flowing red from the blood of the lambs who were slain, when the Lamb of God made this crossing. He went to prepare himself for His own sacrifice. [3]

 

Matthew 26:36
Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.”

Mark 14:32
And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.”

Luke 22:40
And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.”

Gethsemane means, “oil press”. This was the garden of the oil press, no doubt in relation to present olive trees.

Jesus then placed eight of his disciples and instructed them to wait and to pray. Luke’s account tells us that they were to pray that they do not enter temptation. This would be a night of terrible struggle for them, for their leaders, and for their Lord.

“It was there that our blessed Lord, the Son of God, was to go through the oil press, as it were, the awful pressure that was to be put upon His heart and mind in view of the coming sacrifice He was about to offer on Calvary.” – H.A. Ironside [4]

 

Matthew 26:37-38
And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.”

Mark 14:33-34
And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.”

Jesus took his three closest disciples deeper into the garden. Peter, James, and John were to be with Him during His time of anguish.

Jesus sought out his closest companions to be with him during his most difficult time.

Jesus was very sorrowful and troubled. As the prospect of the cross grew near, Jesus was very alarmed. The very thought horrified him! He was “in the grip of horror” [1].

The horror was so intense that it nearly killed him!

“And now of a sudden the cold flood broke over Him. Within these few moments He had passed from the calm of assured victory into the anguish of the contest. Increasingly, with every step forward, He became ‘sorrowful,’ full of sorrow, ‘sore amazed,’ and ‘desolate.’” – Alfred Edersheim [5]

“Many godly people have been arrested, beaten, and slain because of their faith. But only Jesus experienced being made sin and a curse for mankind.” (2 Cor 5:21; Gal 3:13) – Warren Wiersbe [2]

 

Matthew 26:39
And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”

Mark 14:35-36
And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

Luke 22:41-42
And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”

The “cup” is the symbol of God’s wrath throughout scripture. We are told that the wicked will drink the cup of God’s judgement (Psalm 11:6; Psalm 75:8; Isaiah 51:17,22; Jeremiah 25:15-28; Revelation 14:10; Revelation 16:19).

“And that cup involved His being made sin upon the cross. It involved God dealing with Him as though He were guilty of all the sin, all the wickedness, all the corruption that men and women have been guilty of all down through the millenniums. All our sins were to be laid upon Him, and He was to bear, in His own body and His own spirit there upon the cross all that those sins deserved. This was the cup from which He shrank.” – H.A. Ironside [4]

This is not the eloquent prayer of John 17. Jesus is facing the prospect of taking the guilt for all of the sins of the world. He will take every filthy, vile, perverse thing that we have ever done. God the Father will turn his back on him, severing the eternal bond that had never been broken.

Jesus faces this event and is horrified! It was customary for a man to stand in prayer, but Jesus is brought to his knees. We are told that he fell on the ground repeatedly. He drops to his knees, then falls down. He picks himself up only to fall down again.

Hebrews 5:7 tells us that Jesus prayed with loud wailing. He calls out to the Father in the most personal terms, “Daddy! Take this from me!”

Yet He always comes back to the Father’s will. Even in his darkest hour, He is able to conclude with “not my will but yours be done.”

 

Luke 22:43-44
And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

Luke’s account tells more about the stress, the horror, and the crushing weight on Jesus Christ in the garden.

God the Father sent an angel to strengthen him. There is only one other recorded time that Jesus needed angels to keep Him alive — that was after he had fasted in the desert for 40 days (Matthew 4:11; Mark 1:13). The stress of the cross nearly killed Him!

His sweat became like great drops of blood. There is a rare phenomenon, called hematidrosis, where extreme stress can cause the blood vessels under the skin to burst, thereby mixing blood with sweat.

“He is cripplingly horrified by the prospect of the cross.” – Doug Bookman [3]

 

Matthew 26:40-41
And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Mark 14:37-38
And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Luke 22:45-46
And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.

Jesus may have still had blood on his face from the intensity of the struggle. He returns to Peter, James, and John after about an hour and finds them sleeping.

All of the disciples were sleeping, but Jesus directed the primary reprimand to Peter. This may have been because Peter was the most outspoken of the disciples, and had vowed twice that he would never leave Him.

Luke’s account says that they were “sleeping from sorrow”. The emotions and the tragedies of the day had taken their toll, and they could no longer stay focused. They fell asleep from their sorrow.

Jesus warned them with a command, “watch and pray”. They need to be vigilant because the enemy is near. He also knows that their own strength is no match for the enemy who is against them.

“Because willing spirits are still attached to unredeemed flesh, believers are not always able to practice the righteousness they desire to do.” (see Romans 7:15-23) [7]

 

Matthew 26:42-43
Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy.

Mark 14:39-40
And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy, and they did not know what to answer him.

Jesus returned to his conflict in prayer for a second time. But this time, we see in his prayer, “your will be done”. These words show that he accepted that this is the Father’s will and was preparing to finish it.

He returned to the disciples a second time and found them sleeping again. This time, there is no record that Jesus woke them up.

“The conflict had been virtually, though not finally, decided, when the Saviour went back to the three sleeping disciples. He now returned to complete it, though both the attitude in which He prayed (no longer prostrate) and the wording of His Prayer -only slightly altered as it was -indicate how near it was to perfect victory.” – Alfred Edersheim [5]

“When there was no other way, He accepted the cup with perfect submission.” – H.A. Ironside [4]

 

Matthew 26:44
So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again.

Jesus went back and prayed a third time. There are many parallels between Jesus’ struggle in the garden and His temptation at the beginning of his ministry. Both occasions brought him so near to death that he needed help from angels. Both occasions have a threefold conflict, and on both occasions, Jesus Christ emerges victorious.

 

Matthew 26:45-46
Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”

Mark 14:41-42
And he came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”

The ESV translation of Matthew’s account here is misleading. The NASB translation of Matthew 26:45 is closer to Mark’s account and says:

Then He came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners.

The time of prayer was over. It was time to wake up the disciples and be going. Jesus knew that Judas was coming with the soldiers.

“The agony was over. He was now perfectly composed as He went forth voluntarily, like a lamb to the slaughter, to meet those who were seeking Him in order to destroy Him.” – H.A. Ironside [8]

 


[1] Stephen Davey, A Tribute to the Lamb: Gethsemane!, John 18:1

 

[2] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, Luke 22:39-46, pages 215-216

 

[3] Doug Bookman, Passion Week, Audio Series, Lectures 7-8. http://www.bookmanministries.com/

 

[4] H.A. Ironside, Address 60, IN THE GARDEN, John 18:1-14

 

[5] Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Book V, CHAPTER XII. GETHSEMANE

 

[6] John MacArthur, Man of Sorrows, Part 1, Matthew 26:36-46

 

[7] John MacArthur, One Perfect Life: The Complete Story of the Lord Jesus, Part IX, 180. Jesus Prays in Gethsemane, pages 430-432

 

[8] H.A. Ironside, Chapter 26, The King faces the Cross, Matthew 26

 

[9] C. H. Spurgeon, Justification by Grace

 

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2 Comments »

  1. […] had spent the last few hours in agonizing prayer (see here). He was consumed with horror and despair as he considered what he was about to […]

    Pingback by The Kiss | Sapphire Sky — October 15, 2015 @ 10:57 pm

  2. […] Jesus’ prayer in agony at Gethsemane, outside Jerusalem (Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42; Luke 22:39-46; John 18:1) […]

    Pingback by Events of the Passion Week | Sapphire Sky — March 26, 2016 @ 1:50 am


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