28 Jun 2020
Gethsemane was where Jesus and His disciples regularly went to. But tonight, it will be the last time He'll be there with them before the cross. All 4 gospels record the scene at Gethsemane, and it is a place with many lessons for us. It is a place that shows the agony and pain Jesus had to suffer in order to save us. It is also a place where we learn what it really means to do the Father's will. It is a place where we see God's enabling by His spirit. Lest I forget Gethsemane Lest I forget Thine agony Lest I forget Thy love for me Lead me to Calvary. May this sermon help you to the spiritual lessons of sacrifice, surrender & Spirit-enablement.
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A very good morning to all of you, welcome to Gospel Light and our Sunday worship service this morning. We're so glad you can join us, as we continue our journey through the book of Matthew. We come to the series called, “48”. A focus on the last two days of the Lord Jesus Christ, before He'll go to the cross.
So we've been looking at these various events, about the anointing of Jesus by Mary, the betrayal by Judas, the Lord's Supper or the Last Supper and many other things. But today, we come to the next scene in “48” and that is, Jesus entering the Garden of Gethsemane.
Now, this is a very famous, well-known passage and story in the Bible. It's found in the four Gospels - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. And we are going to see some of the precious lessons, when Jesus enters this garden.
Now Gethsemane, the name itself means, olive press. Apparently, there might be a mill, where the olive fruit will be undergoing crushing. So olive fruit is crushed to bring forth oil, so maybe that's why this place is called, Gethsemane - The Olive Press.
The exact location today, is not known. There are some postulates. There are some four alternatives or possibilities, but after 2000 years, almost no one really knows where it is today. However, on that day, Jesus would regularly go to the Garden of Gethsemane.
We read in John, chapter 18:2, “Now Judas who betrayed Him, also knew the place, for Jesus often met there with His disciples.” But today, we're going to see the last time He enters the Garden of Gethsemane. This is the last time, He will meet with His disciples there.
And we can learn many lessons and I've entitled today's sermon, "Lest I forget Gethsemane". It's a song we are familiar with. It's a song we will sing at the end of the service. And this, I hope will remind you of the need to recall the precious lessons, when Jesus enters this garden.
So let me dive right in to the three things, I like us to notice and learn this morning.
1] Remember Sacrifice
Number one, I think Gethsemane is a great place, it's a place we need to go to, to remember sacrifice, to remember sacrifice. You see, Jesus went into this garden with great grief and sorrow and pain and agony. This is a reminder of the sacrifice, He will make for the sake of His people.
We read in Matthew 26, verse 37, “He began to be sorrowful and troubled.” So there is a great stirring within His heart, great stirring within his soul. “And then He said to the disciples, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here and watch with Me.”” [Matt 26:38]
So this is a very difficult time for the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, Dr. Luke, who wrote a parallel description of this scene, he gives us this additional information. “And being in agony He prayed more earnestly; and His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” [Luke 22:44]
So Luke describes a medical phenomenon. He describes something that is very rare, even up to today, when someone would sweat blood. So this is a condition that is known to medical science. It's that the capillaries, that is the small thin blood vessels in your skin burst, probably because of intense emotion, elevated blood pressure. It bursts and therefore the blood leaks into the … to the sweat. And therefore, Jesus here is described to be sweating like drops of blood, great drops of blood.
Now, it is said that during those days, at night, the temperature would not be that high. It's about 10, 15 degrees. And for us here in Singapore, that will be really cool. In fact, we would say that, “That is cold.”
So it is very unusual that someone would sweat, but Jesus sweat because He was in tremendous emotional turmoil and agony. And it was so intense that blood vessels would burst and it will result in, if I may say, sweaty blood or bloody sweat, however you want to see it.
So why, why would Jesus be in such great agony? Well, some would say, “Oh! It's because of the physical pain, Jesus would go through.” He knows that He is going to be whipped. And in those days, the Roman whipping is a very torturous kind of whipping, not just a leather strip that hits you.
But at the ends of all those leather strips, we call this, maybe now, the cat of nine tails. There'll be various straps, maybe nine straps. And at the end of each strap, there'll be sharp objects, bones and maybe even metal balls that will pulverize the flesh. And the hooks and the sharp parts will hook onto that protuberances of the face and of the body.
And with each strike, not only is there the pain from the leather straps. But the soldier pulls on it, tearing out flesh that has been pulverized by the metallic balls and pulled out by the sharp objects embedded at the end of the straps.
So, Jesus probably knows that He's going to endure such flogging, 39 times. Maybe you say, “That's why He's trembling.” Maybe you say, “His trembling because He knows He will be punched and He'll be more marred than any man, after all that is going through.”
And then you say, “Maybe He will be trembling because on the cross, there will be tremendous pain as His arms, His wrists, His feet will be nailed through. And the nerves will be activated and He will be trembling in great pain - His shoulders, His arms will be dislocated. And He'll be struggling on the cross just to breathe. Because all his muscles are fixed as He hangs there and when He pulls Himself up just to catch a breath, there is great pain through the joints, through the muscles as the nerves are also firing.”
So there'll be great agony, physically. He will be in such dehydration mode. He will be in such pre - shock mode. And all that is the tremendous physical suffering that a criminal, who is crucified will have to go through. And you say, “That's why He trembled.”
But whilst the physical pain is not to be minimized, it is absolutely horrendous. The cross, the crucifixion is a Roman invention, [sic: that in] that inflicts greatest pain for the longest period of time. Whilst this physical suffering is scary, to say the least, I don't think that's why He is in such agony.
You see, we read of many people in history and even Christian martyrs in history, who went to the cross, who suffered the same kind of physical suffering Jesus would have gone through, and they went there with joy. We read that in … in history records of martyrs. So, I don't think Jesus is trembling here, only because of the physical sufferings.
There is a clue! I think the clue is found in verse 39. Jesus is trembling here because, “He knows of this cup, that He will have to drink.” You say, “What drink is this? What cup is this? Now we refer to how the cup is being referred to now, in the Old Testament.
For example, in Psalm 75, in verse 8, “For in the hand of the Lord there is a cup…” So this cup is from God Himself, from the hand of the Lord. “… There is a cup with foaming wine, well mixed, and He pours out from it, and all the wicked of the earth shall drain it down to the dregs.” So there is a cup that all wicked people will have to drink in.
And so, I would say that, “This cup here, is a symbol of the punishment, of the suffering, that wicked people will have to suffer at the hands of God.” You could say that this cup contains the righteous wrath of a fierce and Holy God towards sin.
And then we see in Isaiah 51, in verse 17, “Wake yourself, wake yourself, stand up old Jerusalem, you who have drunk again from the hand of the Lord the cup of His wrath.” So the cup here again refers to the wrath of God, the anger, the fury of God, the fierceness of God, towards sin.
And then, in Jeremiah 49, in verse 12, “For thus says the Lord: “If those did not, those who did not deserve to drink the cup must drink it, will you go unpunished? You shall not go unpunished, but you must drink.” So over and over again, the cup here is a symbol of God's judgment upon sinners.
So I suggest to you, that what Jesus was trembling at, was not just the physical sufferings of a criminal in the eyes of men. It's not just a physical sufferings of the cross, but I think He trembles because He looks at the judgment of God upon sin and He is now the sin bearer.
In fact, the Bible says, “He is now made sin for us.” [2 Cor 5:21] And so He is seeing the righteous judgment of God upon Him as the sin bearer. He's seeing the alienation He will have, from God the Father with whom He has been from the beginning.
In other words, I think He trembles at the thought that He would say, He will cry out, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken Me?” You see, we as sinful people do not understand the pain and agony, that the eternal Son of God would endure, when He is separated from the Father, when He is judged as sin, when He endures all this wickedness upon His own life.
I think, in a way unimaginable, Jesus suffered in a great way that we can't describe today. And that's why I think, He was sorrowful, He trembled. It's like that olive, you see. Like that olive that is crushed, Jesus and His soul will be deeply crushed.
I say all that, because I want you to know the suffering. I want you to know the sacrifice, that the Son of God will have to go through in order to save us from our sins. And I pray this morning, this Sunday morning, this Lord's Day, you'll remember the sacrifice and the love of Jesus for you.
I've been loved in my life and I'm still loved in my life by many people, not least my parents, my wife. And how do I know they love me? Is it because I just feel happy being with them? No, I know they love me because of the pain and the agony and the sacrifices, they have to make for me.
And if you multiply that by a trillion, billion times, that's how we know the love of God. Look at Jesus! Look at His Son! Look at all that He has to go through at the Garden of Gethsemane. How He was sorrowful and troubled and sweat great drops of blood. Why? It was for me!
And so this morning, let's go to Gethsemane. “Lest I forget, Gethsemane, Lest I forget Thine agony. Lest I forget Thy love for me, lead me to Calvary”.
The amazing thing about God's love is described here in the next quote: “The wonder of the love of Christ for His people is not that for their sake He faced death without fear, but that for their sack, He faced it, terrified.”
My friend, I pray today, you will remember the sacrifice of Jesus. Maybe you're going through hardship. You have been diagnosed with a sickness. You are going through financial struggle. You have just lost your job. You have difficulties in your marriage, in the husband and wife relationship. And you start to wonder, does God love you? You start to doubt His love for you.
I want you to look at Gethsemane. Let's … let's go with Jesus to Gethsemane. Let's see Him agonized. Let's see Him sweat, great drops of blood. Let's hear what He says. Because it is right there, that we see that incontrovertible evidence that He loves us. Because of what He had to suffer, and what He had to go through.
My friends, when we read about Gethsemane, I think it adds new depth and dimension to Romans 8:32 that says, “If God has given us Christ, His Son, how will He not with Him also freely give us all things?” If God is willing, that His Son will go through so much, how is it that God will not give us all things that are good for us?
So even if we may have to go through hardships today, it is ultimately for your good, for our good and for His glory. May we not doubt God's love, when we look at circumstances. May we be assured of God's love when we go to Gethsemane, and when we see Jesus on the cross.
So may God today help you hear His voice. “I love you and I've proven it, in a gift of My Son. Look at what He has to go through.” “Lest I forget Gethsemane, lest I forget Thine agony. Lest I forget Thy love for me, lead me to Calvary”.
2] Remember Surrender
But when we go to Gethsemane, not only do we see the agony, the sacrifice the pain of Jesus, I like us also to remember - His surrender. Look at the way Jesus surrendered Himself to God's will. This is what He prayed, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me …” [Matt 26:39]
This is His genuine desire. When He sees that separation from God, when He sees how He will bear the weight of sin. He says, “If there'll be any other way possible, let me not drink this cup of Your wrath. Let me not be punished for the sin of the world, if there be any other way. I look at the suffering, I want to avoid it.”
I mean, that's very understandable! We all in our human flesh, would cringe from that suffering. And Jesus being that perfect God man, fully man, truly man, He recoils from that suffering, from the separation of the Father.
But then again, look at this remarkable statement, “… Nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” [Matt 26:39] Immediately following the expression of His own desire, He says, “However, my even greater desire, is to do Your will. Nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”
So we are given a glimpse into the inside workings of the mind of Christ. And this is by no means, just a spontaneous outburst. Because later on, second time, He went away and prayed similarly, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, Your will be done.” [Matt 24:42]
It's saying, “I wish this could pass, but if it can't be passed, if I should bear the sin, if I should suffer, if I should be alienated from You, if I should drink in the cup of wrath, then let it be done. Your will be done.” “And then He repeats the third time, saying the same words again in prayer.” [Matt 26:44]
Now, I'm sure you understand. Jesus is not giving vain repetition in prayer. By the way, there's nothing wrong with us, praying about the same thing over and over again, if that comes from a genuine desperation and desire of the heart. Just don't repeat things for the sake of repeating it, as if God needs your mathematics to convince Him.
Jesus is here praying genuinely, sincerely, the same prayer. But what a prayer! What a prayer that teaches us, what it means to surrender! “If we today want to live a successful…”, if I might say, “… a faithful Christian life, then we need to follow Jesus to the Garden of Gethsemane and understand what surrender is. We need to understand what prayer is.”
Prayer is praying - not as I will, but as You will. So often in prayer, we want God to do what we want. Now, I don't think it is wrong to pray our desires, but undergirding the prayer for our desires is the acknowledgement that, “Lord, at the end of the day, whilst this is what I want, I want to pray what you want.”
“I tell you what I want, this is my desire that I should be healed from my sickness, but nevertheless Lord, not as I will, but as You will.” And so this is what prayer is about. Praying, “Thy will be done and not my will be done.” Praying that, “God will help us, to be in His will and not do what I will.” You know, that's what Christianity is all about!
Christianity is not getting God to be the genie in the bottle, to do my bidding. Christianity is following Jesus, taking up the cross, dying to self to do the Father's will. And I think that governs all aspects of life, especially our prayer life.
Today's Christianity, however, is very mutated. I think it is very warped. I think today's Christianity, is angled towards the self-life. I think many people today, assume that believing in Jesus, following Jesus, becoming a Christian, is a sure win method to get God to do my bidding. It's a way for us to get healthy and wealthy and successful.
And someone said this, “The fastest-growing brand of religion is of the magical ‘name it and claim it’ variety, in which the deity exists only to meet one's immediate self-identified needs.” [Barbara Ehrenreich]
Now, I think this is not just in Christianity. I think in many religions, because we have grown to be so individualistic, because we have grown to be so inward-looking as a people, as a society. Even the view of religion has mutated and warped, to be like this, that it is all about meeting my immediate, self-identified needs.
But no! Follow Jesus, follow Jesus to Gethsemane, it's not about your happiness here, it's not about your health here, it's not about your wealth here. It is about denying yourself of all these things, if it is God's will for you to deny yourself. After all, Jesus says, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself.” [Luke 9:23]
Christianity is not about self-fulfillment, it's about self-denial. It's not about living it up, it's about dying to yourself. Do you realize that therefore, “Prayer is a mighty instrument, not for getting man's will done in heaven, but for getting God's will done on Earth”? [Robert Law]
I hope you'll understand what Christianity is. I hope you understand what the Bible is talking about. I hope you examine your life, are you a true follower of Jesus? Or do you want God to follow you? Do you have your own brand of religion? Or is this a Biblical way of life? It's your choice.
I hope today, you'll come to Gethsemane and determine for yourself what your life should be. Is it about earning a good living? Is it having a successful family? Is it so that you can live it up and take wonderful holidays every year?
What is your life about? Are you in the faith because you want God to bless you with all these material things? Or do you believe God, that His way is the best and you're willing to die to yourself?
My friends, why do you pray? Why do you pray, “God bless my marriage.” Is it because you want your husband fixed? Or you want you to be fixed? You say, “Lord, Your will be done. Let me die to my sin, unforgiveness, pride and ego.” What is it all about? Is it self-fulfillment, self-happiness, or self-denial?
Hudson Taylor, he says, "The real secret of an unsatisfied life lies too often in an un-surrendered will."
You know, this is the paradox of life! You want to seek happiness, fulfillment, based on self-identified, immediate needs today, you will lose your life, you will never be fulfilled.
The way to real fulfillment, to real joy, to real satisfaction, is to follow Jesus when He says, “My meat, my food, my satisfaction is to do the will of the Father. Even if it means I go to Gethsemane, even if it means I go to the cross, even if it means I die to self.”
I see so many of our brethren, so many of our church people, I see two kinds. One kind, they use Christianity to meet their needs. The other kind, they give their lives, for the sake of Christianity. My friends, you got to choose.
But this morning, I like to remind you. When we follow Jesus to Gethsemane, we see His love for us, His sacrifice. And when we follow Jesus to Gethsemane, we see His surrender. We see how He is determined to do the will of the Father. And today, all of us could say, “That was the way to go.” Isn't it? I pray you'll be wise in life to follow Jesus.
3] Remember The Spirit-enabling
The last thing I like to say is that, “Gethsemane reminds us and should serve as a reminder to Spirit -enabling”. I believe Jesus went to Gethsemane to wrestle with God in prayer. He's asking God for grace, for strength, to face the sorrow and the pain and the suffering, that He will go through the very next day.
He's going there because He realizes His need for God enabling. And so, the Scriptures paints for us a picture or an understanding of the perfect God Man, Jesus Christ. Though He is truly God and truly man, He has chosen to veil His divine powers and give us an example of what it means to depend on God, in a place of prayer.
See, the Bible tells us, Jesus, as the perfect God Man was entirely dependent on the power of the Holy Spirit in His life. If you look at His life, you'll see, how intimately His ministry and life is intertwined with the Holy Spirit.
Even His birth was immediately effected by the Holy Spirit. Matthew 1:18 tells us that, “He is a child from the Holy Ghost.” The Incarnation is effected by the Holy Spirit.
And then we read in Matthew chapter 3:16, when Jesus was about to begin His public ministry, “He had the Holy Spirit descending upon Him like a dove.” It's God showing clearly that, “My Son would go about His public ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit.”
And then the very next thing, we are reminded of is how God prophesied in Isaiah 42 and verse 1, God saying, “I've put My Spirit upon Him.”
And of course, that famous passage in Isaiah 61:1, which Jesus referred to Himself, in Luke 4, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me …” Why? Because, “… The Lord has anointed Me to bring Good News to the poor, bind up the brokenhearted, proclaim liberty”, and so on. How is Jesus to do all these things? Because God has anointed Him with power from the Holy Spirit.
Luke 4:1, “Jesus was full of the Spirit, to be led by the Spirit into the wilderness.” So Jesus resisted the temptation, I believe in the power of the Holy Spirit. And again, “When He returned in the power of the Holy Spirit to Galilee,” in Luke 4 and verse 14.
Now, Jesus Himself said, “[sic:For but it is] but if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons.” [Matt 12:28] So again, we see His dependence upon the Spirit. He's veiling His own divine powers, and is chosen to depend on the Spirit to cast out demons. And of course, we have that description in Acts 10:38, “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth, with the Holy Spirit, and with power.”
So let me put it this way, everything Jesus did, in God's will, for God's glory was done in dependence on the Holy Spirit. Even right now, the enabling to go to the cross, I believe, was through the power of the Holy Spirit. My reference in Hebrews, chapter 9 and verse 14, “Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God.”
So when Jesus went to the garden, He's teaching us, remember the power of the Holy Spirit. Remember the power of God that is available in the place of prayer. And we read right after this, struggling, this praying, this pouring out of His heart, crying out to God for enabling, He, I believe, is greatly strengthened.
So that in verses 45 and 46, He could say, “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.” [Matt 26] There is that steely fortitude and ability to face what is going to take place very soon, contrast that with the disciples who all fled.
Why? Because they did not depend on God. Why? Because they did not pray. They thought that they were able to handle it. But Jesus says, “[sic: The flesh or] the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” And Christ demonstrated for us, Spirit-enabling.
I pray in your life, you will know what it means to walk with the Spirit, to be filled with the Spirit, to depend on the Spirit. I … I like to recommend, if this is something you are wrestling with, you're asking, please check out our resources. On the CEP, there is a session called, “Filled with the Spirit”.
And I hope that as you avail yourself to the teaching there. You will walk with the Spirit. You will recognize His Personhood. You will relinquish your control of your life to Him. And you'll rely on His power, so that you may live a life that follows Jesus.
Let me close with this observation. Max Lucado, he said, “The Bible is the story of two gardens: Eden and Gethsemane….” There's a garden of Eden where Adam and Eve sinned, and there is the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus surrendered Himself to God's will. “… In the first Garden of Eden, Adam took a fall …”, he sinned against God. “… In a second garden, Jesus took a stand”.
He would not budge or flinch from doing the will of God, even though it is extremely painful. But let me go a little bit deeper than that. I'd like us to see Adam in Eden and Jesus in Gethsemane and put it very clearly for you. That Adam in essence said, “My will be done.” “I know God told me not to take, not to eat, but I will do what I will, my will be done.” Jesus, however in the garden says, “Thy will be done.”
Adam in Eden, said or took from the tree. But Jesus in Gethsemane … Gethsemane, determined Himself to go to the tree. Adam in Eden, and by his act, led all men to sin and death. Jesus, however, led to life for all men.
My friends, it's a choice. And if I may say, “The Bible does not just speak about two gardens, not just Eden and Gethsemane. But I believe in the future that is to come, that … that new Jerusalem, where the river flows, and where there's a tree of life.” You know what, it's a return to the garden imagery.
And the reason why men who fell in a garden of Eden had appeared again in a garden of heaven, is because Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane, for you and for me. My friend, see that love of God, see the amazing wisdom of Jesus to give His life for the sake of the Gospel.
And I hope today, if you're a newcomer, you're not someone who knows Jesus, I urge you today to know this main message of the Bible. You say, “What's the main message of the Bible?” Three gardens.
The Garden of Eden is when man chose to do his well, sinned against God. And because of that, all men are sinners and all men die. But some 2,000 years ago, God's Son, the Promised Savior, was born into this world, lived a perfect life and He, willingly surrendered Himself to do the Father's will.
The Father's will, is that His Son would bear our sins, so that God may show His grace in forgiving sinners and still be righteous, because sin must be judged. Jesus must take that cup. He who knew no sin is made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God, in Jesus Christ.
This is the Good News. This is the Gospel. It's not what you can do to save yourself. We can't do a single thing, that is of worth. But it's all about what Jesus has done, when He's … when He strengthened His heart, in the Spirit in the Garden of Gethsemane. And one day, those who follow Jesus will be with Him forever more in a garden of heaven.
My friends, this is the Gospel. And I plead with you, that you will today, turn from your sin and believe in Jesus Christ. Ask Him to save you from your sins. And I pray as the church, we will have hearts that are welling up in joy, in gratitude, in hope. And let's follow Jesus. Let's do that faithfully.
May God bless you. May God help you know His love. May God help you today to determine to live not for self-fulfillment, but live in self-denial. To die to yourself - your ambitions, your goals, your sins, and live for the glory of God. Let's pray.
Father, we want to thank You. We want to thank You for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When we think about Gethsemane, we are reminded about the grave punishment that our sins deserve. Thank You, O God, You have poured it out on Your Son. What amazing love!
And I pray this morning, that You help all friends, all who are listening in. That they may see their sin and that they may see Jesus and may You lead them to salvation and life. Lord, would You be merciful, to grant to them, repentance and faith. We pray for the power of Your Holy Spirit to work in the hearts of those who are tuning in today.
O God, I pray for our church, that we will not be a bunch of people who come to You only to say, “Give me good stuff.” But let us be a body of believers who understand the great love of God in the Gospel, and who will then be motivated to live self-denying lives.
I pray as we read the Word, as we pray, as we get in community, we'll be praying, “Lord, more of You, less of us.” We would pray regularly, even through sufferings and pain, “Not my will but Your will be done.” “Help me to be a better husband, better wife, better father, better mother, better worker. Lord, help us to die to self.”
Father, I pray, that Gospel Light will be a church who understands, what it means to live life in the Spirit. That we will be a people entirely dependent upon You, as we face temptation, as we fight sin. Lord, teach us to pray, teach us to depend, teach us to be people abiding in the Vine.
So thank You again for this morning, bless each one. We ask these in Jesus’ Name. Amen. God bless.
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