Posted by: lepages | April 18, 2011

Jesus agonises in the Garden

Our Easter series began with a visit from Jews for Jesus and a time of sharing on Christ in the Passover – afraid, as I post the Easter series of teaching is not yet up on the church website, but hopefully they’ll appear there before too long.

We went from there to Jesus going out into the Garden on the Mount of Olives, facing the awful struggle that laid ahead. As we worshipped following the preach the Lord came and ministered to a number of folk, and we had several folk in floods of tears. Thank you Lord for your grace.

Notes from my preach follow:-

Jesus agonises in the Garden

Luke 22:31-65

Introduction

‘Deja vu’ – I don’t know whether you’ve ever been in that situation where you feel you know very clearly what’s going to happen, because somehow or other you’ve seen it before, or you just ‘know’ what’s about to take place. Or maybe you’ve been somewhere and something is going to happen and time just seems to slow down!! It’s happened to me a couple of times, balancing at a junction or traffic lights with feet either strapped in or clipped in to my pedals, and you just know you’re going over, but the fall seems to take forever.

 Jesus had incredible knowledge of what was about to happen.

Had he seen it in a dream – deja vu?

Was it revealed to him by the Holy Spirit?

Was it a result of his prayerful study of the Scriptures?

Or maybe a combination of these things.

 Jesus has shared in the Passover supper with his disciples, with all its symbolism which we reflected on last week – with thoughts of sacrifice, of failure, of deliverance, of joy, of frustration, of pain, of freedom.

 And then he has taken the bread and taken the wine and given it a new meaning – the bread – Luke 22:19 – ‘my body given for you’ – the cup v20 – ‘a new covenant in my blood… poured out for you’

 Jesus knew what lay ahead.

 He spoke of how someone eating with him was going to betray him v21, but he knew that what he was to go through had been decreed – he knew the Scriptures – and he knew it’s application to his life.

 This is an awesome moment, a poignant time.

 Jesus carries so much on his shoulders, in his mind, as he, in love, seeks to prepare his friends for what lies ahead.

 We come to our reading for today.

 Jesus has already spoken of how Judas is to betray him, and he then has to prepare Simon Peter for what lies ahead.

 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat.”

‘You’ is plural ‘yous’ as they’d say in Scotland – ‘vous’ in French.

The devil has asked permission to shake them all up and see who has the strength to stay true.

 ILLUSTRATE sifting – bird seed.

 Jesus says to Peter v32 ‘But I have prayed for you….’

 Isn’t that one of the best things we can do for someone else?

To pray for them!

And how much better to have the Lord of the Universe pray for you!

Wow!

 But Peter’s reply wasn’t based on the wonder and pleasure that his Lord would pray for him, but based on himself, thinking that he was better than he was.

 V33 ‘Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.’

 Peter thought he was better than he was.

 I wonder how many of us fall into that same trap……

we think of ourselves more highly than we ought….

we think we’re doing okay….

we think when we see others fail, that’ll never happen to me….

 I’m sure Peter genuinely thought he was prepared to face prison and death with Jesus, but Jesus knew better. He knew that Peter would deny even knowing him – three times – and that before the cockerel was heard to crow that morning.

 Can you imagine how Jesus felt?

One of his friends was going to betray him.

Another was going to deny even knowing him.

These were his friends that he had spent the last 3 years hanging out with, day in day out.

 Maybe some of us know what it feels like to be let down by friends, by people we trust.

It hurts desperately.

Imagine knowing in advance that it is going to happen.

That’s where Jesus was. That’s what Jesus went through.

Know this, when you are betrayed, let down by someone close to you, Jesus knows and understands what you are going through, therefore, you can take your pain to him, because he understands.

 Jesus not only knew about the betrayal that was to come, not only about the denial that was to come and how Satan was seeking to steal and kill and destroy amongst the disciples but he knew what he was going to face personally – he had already taught about bread as his body, given for his disciples, of wine symbolising his blood poured out and now, as they prepare to go out into the night he refers them to Scripture…..

 In v37, he refers them to Isaiah 53

‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’ and he tells them that this Scripture must be fulfilled in him. He says these poignant words:-

‘Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfilment.’

 I wonder if Jesus had been meditating on these words of Isaiah the prophet….

I wonder if these words had been echoing around in his head, his heart, his mind, his Spirit as they went out into the garden at the Mount of Olives?

 The words of Isaiah 53 are powerful words, moving words – as we read them imagine what it would feel like if you knew they were about to be fulfilled in your life….

 Turn with me to Isaiah 53
READ Isaiah 53

 Over the next 24 hours he would see each stage of this prophecy being fulfilled in his life – he would know what it was to have his appearance disfigured as he would be beaten, and whipped, have thorns forced into his head; he would know what it was to be despised and rejected by men; he would know what it would be like to be stricken by God, to be pierced for our transgressions, to be crushed by our iniquities, our sin, to bear the punishment for our sin. He would know what it was like to be led like a lamb to slaughter, to bear the sin of many.

As he went out to the Garden at the Mount of Olives, he would have had all these things bearing down upon his life – the betrayal by a friend, the denial of even knowing him by another – and the consciousness of what was to happen to him physically and spiritually as he would take on himself all the sin of his people – he who was perfect as we were reminded last week – of how he would bear the judgement of God as his Father would turn his face away from him.

 Jesus went out to the Mount of Olives ‘as usual’ v39 ‘as was his custom’, ESV puts it.

 When they went out, they were going through a normal pattern, well Jesus was, whether it was normal for the disciples to follow Jesus out to the Mount of Olives to pray or not, I’m not sure – whether they followed him because of the poignant things he’d just shared with them, maybe, or maybe it was their habit too.

 But it was clearly Jesus’ habit to go out and spend time in prayer with his Father – it’s good to have habits in spending time with God.

 He spoke with his disciples. He encouraged them to pray and then he went beyond them and fell to his knees. The burden of what lay before him overwhelming, and he cried out to his Father, v42

‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me….’

 Sometimes you reach a point in life when you just don’t want to go on…. that was where Jesus’ emotions were at at this point. We read in Matthew’s Gospel Jesus crying out ‘if it is possible, take this cup from me’ If there is any other way we can do this!

 And then in the midst of Jesus’ pain and emotion at what lay before him, we read in Mark’s Gospel Jesus’ realisation that everything is possible for his Father, but this is the way he has chosen, this is what is written, and as he said earlier, must be fulfilled in him and so he cries out, v42 ‘yet not my will, but yours be done.’

 There comes a time when we sometimes have to stop and say, whatever we feel, ‘Okay Lord, your will be done.’

 But even when we come to that point, it doesn’t suddenly make everything okay.

The Father sent an angel to strengthen him.

Again and again you hear testimony to how the Lord brings just the right support to his people at the right time to see them through.

 It doesn’t mean its easy though.

 For Jesus, the pain of what he was facing was still huge.

He didn’t stop and say, ‘I’ve committed it to the Lord, so that’s that.’

 No!!

 He was in agony of spirit, soul, mind and body at what lay before him, so v44 ‘he prayed more earnestly’ and it’s recorded ‘his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground…’

 Our bodies, minds, spirits, souls are all interlinked – when one is in anguish it affects the others – if someone is emotionally disturbed, it’s likely to affect them physically too. When we are physically ill it affects our emotional state too. And often for some, it can affect their spiritual state too. That’s why Jesus kept telling his disciples to pray so that they would not fall into temptation…..

 Because when things aren’t right in our lives, we are more vulnerable to attack from Satan’s temptations, more likely to give way to whatever it may be that provides an easy way out or gives some relief, or helps us block out the things we are facing…. but Jesus says the most important thing we can do at those times is to pray, to pray that we do not fall foul of temptation…. and he models it for us…. he persists in crying out to his Father – he has said ‘not my will, but yours be done.’ But it doesn’t stop him crying out to his Father in earnest, laying everything before him.

 I guess many of us have known what it is to face a situation that makes us so nervous, so uptight, that we start to sweat profusely, and it has nothing to do with having done a good workout at the gym. For Jesus the pain of what he was to face was so great it caused him to sweat drops of blood – a condition called hematidrosis – caused when the net of blood vessels around the sweat glands constrict under extreme stress and then are released and rupture causing blood to be excreted through the sweat glands with the sweat. Cases have been recorded in recent times of those in fear facing execution, rape, and severe storms whilst sailing.

 Conclusion

Jesus went through all this out of love for you and love for me.

Even though humanly speaking he wanted to escape what lay ahead of him, he still said to his Father, ‘Not my will, but yours be done.’

 Perhaps as he prayed he would have been reminded in the midst of his anguish of what would be accomplished by all that lay ahead as Isaiah the prophet had recorded– that his punishment would bring to us peace, that he would see his Father’s purposes established and new people being brought into his Father’s family, that he would see again the light of life and be satisfied, and that his sacrifice would justify many.

 I don’t know about you, but the knowledge that Jesus would do that, hold true inspite of all he felt fills me with gratitude and thanksgiving. It fills me with admiration. It fills me with a consciousness that in and of myself, seeing how his friends failed, that without the help of the Holy Spirit and my brothers and sisters in Christ I am likely to fail too. I am so grateful when others stand alongside me in prayer. Maybe you need someone to stand alongside you in prayer. Members of the prayer team are available after the service, but if as we worship you would like someone to pray with you now, come down to the front as we continue in worship and we’ll come and pray with you.

 I’ve asked Julie if I can lead us into worship with a song and then she’ll come and continue to lead us together in our worship.

 Thank you for saving me

 Thank you for saving me, what can I say?
You are my everything, I will sing your praise.
You shed your blood for me, what can I say?
You took my sin and shame,
a sinner called by name.

Great is the Lord,
Great is the Lord,
For we know your truth has set us free,
You’ve set your hope in me.

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