The Angst of Gethsemane
We are in Part 4 of our Matthew series, and today's sermon is looking at Jesus agony in the Garden of Gethsemane
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.” 37 And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” 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.” 40 And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? 41 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” 43 And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44 So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. 45 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. 46 Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”
This is one of the most moving passages in the entire Passion story. We get a glimpse of Jesus’ humanity and His trepidation for what He was about to do for all of humanity. One may ask, why was He so scared? After all, many martyrs have died more courageous deaths for the sake of the kingdom. What made Him so reluctant? The writer of Hebrews tells us that He prayed this prayer “With loud cries and tears” and that God heard His cry, and the answer to this prayer was the suffering Jesus went through on our behalf (See Hebrews 5:7-8). So why the fear? It was not because of death or pain, since it seems Christ knew what was before Him including His resurrection; but as we will see in future sermons, there was a forsaking of the Father to the Son that is indescribable and beyond our own experience of pain and betrayal. In spite of the spiritual pain and separation that this will cost Jesus, He is our prime example of selflessness and obedience to His Father’s will on our behalf and for the glory of His Father. What Jesus will accomplish is cosmically epic even though we won’t see the ramifications of this act until we are present with our Father in Heaven. It’s mazing too, that in the middle of this emotional distress, with Jesus anguishing over this cosmic reality, His disciples are sleeping. Isn’t that the reality? We often treat the cross the same way; ho hum! We aren’t aware of the event that is taking place around us, because we lack spiritual vision. We lack spiritual fervor in our prayers, because we can’t see the relevance of the cross and the gospel in our every day lives, so it affects our prayer life and our walk with our savior!
- Why was Jesus so stressed about His death on the cross?
- Why were Jesus’ disciples so disinterested?
- In what way(s) can we do the same in regard to Jesus’ cross today?
- How does this passage describe our own lethargy in prayer?
- How can we adjust our lives to be more acquainted with Christ’s suffering and the mission God has for us in the world today?