13 Mar 2016
Hebrews 5:7 The Tears Pastor Jason Lim 13 March 2016 "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 sake he faced it, terrified. " At the Garden of Gethsemane, when Jesus was crushed, tears came forth. Tears of Pain, of Prayer and of Purpose. Discover what these tears mean for you today. Slides Audio **Right Click to Do
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I'm very glad that you're able to join us today as we continue our series in Easter month to look at the last few days of our Lord's life on earth. This is a series that takes us from the table to the tomb. Last week we looked at the table, the Last Supper, the feast of love, where Jesus assured and loved His disciples unto the end. Today we come to part two about the tears of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I worked as a medical doctor for many years. I studied medicine, I've worked and I've seen many cases of bleeding: bleeding from all kinds of places, from the ears, to the eyes, to the nose, to the stomach, to the urinary system, everywhere you could name it, but I've never met a patient who bleeds in the sweat or in the sweat glands, I've never seen one. I researched on it and I found that this is an extremely rare condition and it occurs in cases of extreme stress. But even though bleeding in the sweat is so rare, it is however rather well known today, all because of Jesus Christ.
You are going to soon realize that in the garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus is right now- in our second part of this series, He's there in great agony and stress and the Bible tells us He had sweat like great drops of blood. So let's join Him in the garden this morning.
Here we are told that Jesus went to this garden of Gethsemane as we have said, and this is a familiar garden to Jesus and the disciples, they often met there. So after the Last Supper, the weight and the agony of sufferings and sin that Jesus will bear is heavy upon Him, so He needed to come alone with the Father, He needed to pour His heart before God, He needed to pray and so He gathered His disciples to the garden. There at the garden, Judas has already left, he's gone to hatch his plan of betrayal, but the 11 followed Jesus right outside. And Jesus then brought three of the 11 deeper into the garden. In Matthew we are told, taking with Him, Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, they are James and John, so they are called James Zebedee and John Zebedee.
He began to be sorrowful and troubled. So Matthew and the rest of the gospel writers remark that there is a change in Jesus, He began to be sorrowful and troubled. Maybe it's the way He looked, maybe it's the tone of His voice, maybe it's the shaking of His hands, we do not know, but certainly something is happening. Something is heavy upon Jesus. it's discernible by observation and then He said to them, 'My soul is very sorrowful, even to death, remain here and watch with Me'.
What do you mean watch with me, well, it means you pray. When He came to them, He came to the place He said to them, according to Luke, pray that you may not enter into temptation. This is an extremely dark and difficult time and you will be tempted to fall away, you will be tempted to sin, you'll be tempted to be falling into temptation, so don't do that. How do you keep yourself from falling in temptations? Pray. That's what He said to them and as for Himself, He went further and fell on His face prostrate on the floor, on the ground, and He said, 'My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me. Nevertheless, not as I will but as You will', famous words in the garden.
The Bible tells us, and being in an agony He prayed more earnestly and His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. According to the scholars, at this period of time Israel is somewhere between 10 to 15°C, so it was not a hot place, it's not Singapore, so it is a cool place, but He sweat big time and it was blood in the sweat because of the extreme stress and pressure that is weighing upon Him. It's interesting this garden is called the garden of Gethsemane. Anybody knows what's the meaning of Gethsemane? It means olive press, it is a place where the fruit or the olive is being crushed and pressed and you get that olive oil. And Jesus now is in the garden of pressing, where He is crushed and what comes forth, sweat, blood and may I add, it's tears.
The author of Hebrews offers us a behind the scene look which is not recorded in the Gospels, the author of Hebrews tells us "In the days of His flesh", so surely several days, not just one day, but supremely, I believe in the garden, "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." So, there you have a picture of Jesus in the garden, sweating with drops that looked like that of blood and with tears flowing down His eyes.
So today we come to the second part of the series from the table to the tomb in the tears. I want to explore together with you and maybe lead you in this contemplation of what these tears may mean, why cry? What are these tears about and what are these tears for? I suggest to you, number one, these are tears of great pain. It's as simple and straightforward as that. Number one, He cried, He wept because it is extremely difficult, it's extremely painful. He says, 'my soul is sorrowful unto death' and the amazing thing about this is that this is absolutely God's will for Jesus. It is the Father's will for His Son to go to the garden of crushing, for Him to face all this agony. Say why, did Jesus do anything wrong, no, He did not do anything wrong. There was no sin in His life. This is not an accident, this is not a misfortune, this is the will of God for Jesus Christ.
I want to make this application right away for you and for me. We live in a day where we think being a Christian, or being a churchgoer is a cool and trendy thing, we think it is really cool to be called a Christian, on the IC, 'What religion you have?', Christianity sounds the best and in our society today, Christianity looks like something that gives you a good life. I mean, after all, you see many Christians, they are upper, they are middle class and when they believe in Jesus, it seems like they're educated, they are well to do, they are smart, they have good jobs, family is great. Life seems wonderful. When they pray God always heals them. It's nice and easy, and it seems that Christianity is living in the lap of luxury, it's cool, it's nice to be a Christian. But has it ever dawned on you that if we are followers of Jesus Christ, there are times where we follow Him to the garden of Gethsemane? Where? It is the Father's will, where we will be crushed and we'll go through great pains and difficulties.
You know, Jesus is not a deceitful salesman, you know how it is right in the United States, they call them the used car salesman. They sell you this junk, tells you how great it is, tells you all the good things, but actually it's rubbish, so that you could just buy into it. Jesus is not a deceitful salesman, where He says 'Come, follow me, and life will be wonderful for you and you'll have no pain, no sorrows, everything will be nice and easy'. In fact, Jesus is the opposite, He tells us, 'If anyone would come after Me, let Him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it'. If He's a sales man, He is terrible at it, He's terrible, but He's not a salesman, He our Lord. He lays it out, plain and simple. You want to know God? You want to have real eternal life? You want to be a follower of Jesus? 'Then', He says, 'you must deny yourself and take up His cross', it means to die to yourself, it's extremely painful, you lose your life, it means that you may lose your family, you may lose your health, you may have friends turn against you, your family turn against you, but that's what it means to follow Jesus.
The book of Acts tells us, after they've preached the gospel and so on and so forth, look at the last phrase where it says "Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God". You say, how do I become a Christian? What does it mean to be a Christian? Well, through many tribulations. These are not nice things to talk about surely and no wonder, many people avoid talking about these things. But we're not here to be salesmen, we are not here to please ourselves, we are here to find out what God has to say and if you genuinely want to have eternal life, if you genuinely want to live the life God has always wanted you to have, it's not about building up a big bank account, it may mean losing your bank account. It is not saying, 'Oh God must give me perfect health', it may mean that you will be persecuted. It doesn't mean that you will be popular, but instead you will be very unpopular if you are living for Jesus, through many tribulations.
When you look at what Jesus said, what the world and what churches today say, it's very shocking. We live in a day and age where people who are called pastors, preachers tell you another kind of gospel. In fact there's this term now, called the prosperity gospel, never in existence in time past, but now it's is given a nice name, prosperity gospel: You come to church, you read the Bible and it will give you insight into how you can be rich, it will give you power, how you can be rich and you can get God to make you rich. It's extremely grievous when I read things like this: Jesus bled and died for us so that we can lay claim to the promise of financial prosperity. Creflo Dollar, what a name, he's a preacher- big time preacher, well known in Atlanta, the United States recently on the news because he wanted to buy a private jet- luxurious one and got his members to pay for it or wanted to get people to pay for it.
As He said, Jesus bled and died for us. I don't have a problem with that. Jesus did die and bleed for us, but for what? To him, so that we can lay claim to the promise of financial prosperity. You know what? This cheapens Jesus Christ. It cheapens what Jesus did on the cross. If it's money, Jesus didn't need to die. Our God owns the whole world, He made the whole world with His words. What is money to God, why would Jesus need to die? So when someone says this is what the gospel is all about, Jesus died for you to be rich, Jesus died for you to be healthy, it is a departure from the true gospel because the true gospel is that Jesus died to save us from our sins, we underestimate the grievousness and the tragedy of sin and we over estimate the value of things- trinkets of this world.
But, this is a very powerful message, you know that? It's very alluring. I'm not surprised hordes of people love this statement. I didn't get the likes and the share thing. Maybe like some millions of people love statements like this and lots of people will follow teachings like this, but my friends, you're following the wrong Jesus, it's a counterfeit, it is a fake. I think it's a Christian version of the Fortune God: Cai Shen Ye, Cai Shen Ye, but Christian version, that's all. It's not the real Jesus of the Bible and when things come to be difficult, the followers of Jesus for money and prosperity and health would soon fall away. Leonard Ravenhill says this the best. "The early Church was married to poverty, prisons and persecutions. Today the 'church', (the inverted commas is critical)- the 'church' is married to prosperity, personality and popularity". Why does he put it in inverted commas? Because, to him, it's not the real Church. The true followers of Jesus Christ are married to poverty, prisons, persecutions, willing to go to the garden of Gethsemane but the fake ones, just want the good stuff, and they never really followed.
Wah, pastor, you like that so siong, you say and tell like that, the whole church next week won't come really. Let me tell you, it is difficult, but the reality also is this, whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. This is the deal: that as we follow Jesus, yes it is painful, it may be difficult, it may call us to sacrifice, but at the end of it, I will find real life, real joy, real meaning, real fellowship with the true God who made me, it is worth it, but if I'm chasing the things of this world, I will ultimately lose my life. Yes, you will lose a lot for following Jesus, but I tell you, you will lose so much more, if you don't follow Jesus, that's the problem.
Some of you today, maybe going through Gethsemane and you're having tears of pain, I just want to encourage you, just as it was God's will for His Son to go through that, He has not forsaken you, nor loved you less. Sometimes He does call us to Gethsemane. Sometimes you are stricken with diagnoses that you are not prepared to deal with. Sometimes, your family, your loved one walked out on you. Sometimes, tragedy strikes, but at no point did our Father stop loving you just as He did towards Jesus.
You say, why did Jesus cry? I think straightforward, plain and simple: He was crushed, He was going through agony and pain. So what do you do when you go through pain? What do we do when we go through pain? Well, the reality of pain is that there's a recourse in life- it's that we can pray and Jesus sets a fantastic example for us, when He went through pain, He turned to the Father in prayer, three times and that's what we see in the tears of prayer.
He says 'My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me. Nevertheless, not as I will but as You will'. He then got up and went to check on the disciples and found that they were sleeping. So He got down again the second time and He prayed 'My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, Your will be done'. He got up again and went to check on the disciples and they were? Sleeping. So He went the third time and He prayed, saying the same words again.
So we see that the garden is a place of pain, but it is also a place of prayer and the tears that were shed were tears of pain and they were also tears of prayers. Let me ask you: Why cry? Why do you cry? Well, some of you cry because what you go through is extremely painful. That's natural right, you cry when you pray, you cry. Some people however think that- they cry in prayer, so that they will get their prayers answered in a higher probability, higher chance for God to hear me. In Chinese we call this Ku Rou Ji, you know what is Ku Rou Ji or not? The ladies are very good at it, (wails loudly), okay, okay lah, buy lah, buy lah. You know how it is right? You just make yourself looks so pitiful that the other party has no choice- 'Okay, okay, I'll take pity on you' and and that's the way we think God relates with us. If I could cry hard enough, if I can cry until my eyes become red and swollen like goldfish, like that, God will answer my prayer. It's almost like the prophets of Baal, remember? During Elijah's time, they were false prophets, alright, they don't worship the true God, the false prophets- they wanted their God to send down fire to consume the sacrifice. They pray, pray, pray, pray, pray, so long: no answers. So what do they do? They start to jump. They jump and they make a ruckus out of it, but again, no answers. So they proceeded to take knives and cut themselves, so that a lot of blood- Eee. Why? So that their god will look and say 'Aiyoh, so poor thing. I'll answer you lah.'
But you know, that is wrong because, if you think that your tears gets God to answer you, then you have a wrong understanding of who your God is, as if he is blind and deaf and unfeeling and unloving: that's idolatry, that's not the God of the Bible. So I suggest to you that the tears of the Lord Jesus Christ is not meant to be an emotional blackmail, it's not Ku Rou Ji.
So what is it then? I think they're genuine tears of struggle, tears of surrender. See His prayer is interesting, He said 'If it be possible, let this cup pass from me'. What was Jesus' will, by the way? Left to Himself, His will is to? Avoid the cross, avoid bearing our sins, avoid the awfulness and the filth of our iniquities, avoid being separated from the Father- these things, weigh heavily upon Him. He says, 'If it is possible, I don't want this', but the tears of surrender come when He says, 'Nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will'. It's extremely difficult to surrender, it's painful to surrender but the tears of surrender flow from Jesus and the reason I think he could surrender, is because He had confidence in Him Who was able to save Him from death. He knew that the Father will not leave Him there, but He will be raised on the last day, He will have ultimate victory.
And so the Bible tells us in His surrendered prayer, as He got to his knees, He said, 'Let your will be fully fulfilled in Me'. The Bible tells us He was heard, the prayer is answered. So clearly the prayer is not that 'God get me out of this'. Eventual submission, is that 'Lord, help me to go through this' and He prayed for obedience, I believe. The ability to obey, the ability to go through it all and face the cross and the separation from the Father, that strength to obey is derived in the place of prayer. This is what He cried for, this is what He prayed for, this is what He wept for: strength to obey, not that He was never obedient. But this is obedience in a very different way. Previously it was obedience without test. Now it's obedience with test. Previously it was obedience without suffering. Now, it's obedience in unspeakable suffering. The strength to obey is derived in the place of prayer. I think this is such a beautiful contrast, sharp contrast, when you think about the disciples, what were they doing? They're sleeping and so what happened to them after that, after Gethsemane when Jesus went to the cross, could they face the cross like Jesus did? No, they all fled. Well, they entered into temptation. Why, Jesus said it, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Good intentions are never enough. You need to come to God in the place of prayer. This strength to obey is derived on our knees.
You know JI Packer, he's a great guy- elderly man now, wrote great books, great theologian. He talks about the mortification of sin. Wah big word: well mortification means to put to death. He desires purity and holiness in his life. So, and if you are serious about Christ, you would want to live purely. So how do you live purely, when sin comes with all its clutches and allurements, how do you fight against it, how do you free yourself from the grip of sin? Well, JI Packer says, 'In mortification of sin, you do so in the place of prayer'. It's not psychology, you know sometimes we think fighting sin is in psychology- think of the right things, think about this, think about that, think of how you're freed from sin, think about how Jesus.. Yah, I think positional truths are absolutely important, but Packer reminds us that the power to do so comes from prayer. So he says, 'When you are tempted to something, tempted to switch on pornography, tempted to continue to bear a grudge against a brother or sister, tempted to go into a particular decision that will leave you chasing after the world, you know what do you do? You go down on your knees and you keep praying, till the grip of sin loosens over your life.' That's what he calls the mortification of sin: strangle that by prayer, till it loosens itself upon you.
And Jesus sets for us an example, that we will learn, when we go to the place of the Gethsemane when trials come, pain comes, instead of being lazy, we get to our knees and we seek the Lord- we pray.
What do you pray when difficulties come? Well, I instinctively and rather naturally, we would say, Lord, please heal me. Please take away this cancer, please bring my husband back, please let my job be stable- it's natural for us to pray these things and I don't think it's inherently wrong to do so. But maybe in the course of your life as you pray, you discern, you sense that maybe it is God's will, not for you to be out of that trial, but for you to go through the trial. Then we humble ourselves and then there may be tears of surrender when you say, 'Lord, let it not be mine will, but Thy will be done and give me strength to obey, because I trust You. I trust at the end of it all, it will be all worthwhile. I don't understand it now but I trust it will be all worthwhile. So, do you have a Gethsemane to go to, you know, a place where you regularly go? Jesus had, how about you?
This is my Gethsemane, no olive there. But this is the one and first main incident in my life that I remember. I stayed in one of the apartments here- it's orange color, now it's painted something else, love this place. It's a place where I first knew that my son, older son, Shawn was diagnosed with autism. I've shared this to you, many a times and what was devastating for me was not just the label of autism, but the realization that potentially he will never be the son, he will never be the person I expected or thought he would be. I really thought that the son, that I was with for the past 12, 15 months is no more, he's dead. Because, you know, as every parent you wish your son will become a Prime Minister or President or Pastor or what but now he's no more, he's not the Shawn I know.
And I remember that day alone with him, he was in the room just playing randomly, haphazardly, I was seeking the Lord in prayer. That's my Gethsemane and tears flowed, I mean tears of pain: It's painful for me to to think about what would happen to him, but also tears of surrender when I said, 'Lord, I don't quite understand this, but help me, help my family to honor You and glorify You, even through all the adversities we may face as a result of this'. Now, I didn't think that because I cried, God will answer me and say 'Ooh, so poor thing, you Jason, I think I will heal Shawn today'. No, that's not what I thought because I know He loves us. He doesn't need my tears, to convince Him. Jesus is the reason why He loves us, but as this Gethsemane, that up to today, I rejoice in for the strength, He gives to my home, to my family. I pray you have your Gethsemane.
Following Jesus is not a bed of roses, you will have your Gethsemane moments, but in those times, prayer draws you near and grants you a greater miracle than just delivering you out of the problem, strength to persevere through it. So we learned that following Jesus means sometimes we shed tears of pain, sometimes tears of prayer, but I want to end by reminding you they are always tears of purpose.
You see, pain and suffering is not a mistake and they will never be wasted. You say, why did Jesus have to go through all this? Hebrews tells us the reason: so that He is now made perfect, He is made complete. Now, it's not because Jesus was inadequate or flawed in any way, but by means of suffering and going through the extreme of human experience, He's now complete, He is now merciful, compassionate, we know He has gone through what we have gone through and far more, He is now our suitable High priest, the pain that God the Father inflicted on the Son was for a great purpose. It is the wisdom of God to save us in such a way and to make His Son the perfect High Priest.
And so I say to you in your life, you will go through Gethsemane but it's never wasted, never. And the assurance of Scripture is clear and we know that for those who love God all things work together for good: one of the great promises of the Bible. But look at this, we know that for those who love God, the key word is 'know', it's not, we 'feel', when you go through Gethsemane, you don't feel like it's working well for you, you won't, but you've got to know by faith, this is what He has promised. And I said, all things, not just the nice things, we are very happy when God gives us a promotion, we are very happy when we strike ?Toto? (0:31:38.6) if you buy ?Toto? We are very happy if things go well in life, but no, the 'all things' here include all. All means all, all means even unpleasant, difficult, painful things- they all work together.
Pastor, what is good? What do you mean work together for good, because it doesn't look good for me! I have tubes all over my body, I'm right here in my debt. My wife is going to break up with me. What do you mean by good? I'm not having a good life. Well, the definition of good in God's dictionary is very different from yours, from mine sometimes, because the definition of good for me is comfort, but the definition of good for God is character. What does it mean to be good? That we may be conformed to the image of His Son. We are very concerned with the comfort in this life. God is concerned about the character in the life that is to come for all eternity.
So here in Gospel Light, we have a very famous statement, 'God's good is gooder than our good'. The best English you can find in, Gospel Light. And I think it is still true. My good: Always limited, short-sighted, temporal. God's good: Grand, glorious, eternal. So, you today maybe going through profound sadness, but I hope as you look at God's promise and Who He is, you derive an overwhelming hope, hope of joy as you go through the pains.
I believe that the disciples must have remembered Gethsemane for the rest of their life, how Peter, James and John fell asleep and the whole group of 11 collapsed in a time of trial and how Jesus, their Master, sought the Father's face and obtained obedience- strength to obey through it all. So when they go through- and when you go through pain today I pray, you will realize there's a purpose for you and you go to the place of prayer and say, 'Lord, nevertheless, not as I will but as You will'. When you go to the hospital, when you visit your brethren, when you visit one another and they are going through deep pain, by all means, pray for their healing, but at the very same time, pray with the understanding that even if it is not the Lord's will to heal, pray that God's will be fulfilled in their lives as they continue to obey and walk in loyalty to His Word.
But, let me end by saying Gethsemane is not just an example for us, much as I think it is, I think we should look at Jesus, not just as in our example, but also supremely: Our Saviour because and being made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation to all who believe Him. Why does He go through all this? To save you, to save me. And my friends, I say to you, this is the only one way by which we may be saved, because if there is another way, the cup would pass. If there is another way, Jesus wouldn't have to go through what He had to go through, but it is the only way.
You know, in the first garden, Adam decided: My will be done and the whole world is plunged into sin and death. In the garden of Gethsemane the second Adam said: Thy will be done. And, He won for us eternal life and salvation. This is Jesus, His amazing love for us, His amazing loyalty to the Father. Let me say one more aspect of a love that was a blessing to me and it is this: If Jesus went to the cross, fearless- no fear because He would be able to handle it, it will be remarkable love. But, if He went to the cross, not fearless, but terrified and trembling and He still went for our sake, that is unspeakable love and Gethsemane tells me of His genuine struggles and in spite of it, He faced it because He loves you.
My friends, there is no other way you can be saved, because if there was, He wouldn't have to go through this. But this morning, the Bible reveals to us, the Son of God came to be born as man, that He may go through all this to pay for your sins. Would you not receive his love? Would you not repent of your sin and believe in the Son of God?
Let's bow for a word of prayer together. The Bible tells us Jesus paid it all, the weight of all our sins is concentrated in the cup that He wished would pass, but He was there to do the Father's will, He was there to pay for you what you could never pay for yourself and He drank it all in. My friends, there is simply no other way. So He says, 'I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father but by Me.' He calls you today to turn from your sin and to believe Him. What you mean by believe Him? It means, let me say this: To follow Him, to say, He is your Lord and your Saviour, He has done it all and you rely completely on His finished work on the cross, you realize that He died and He rose again, He has finished it all, and now He is who you follow. Oh, there's no deceiving of you, I hope this morning that following Jesus means a bed of roses. Contrary to that, they that live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution, you will have to deny yourself. You will have to take up the cross, you will have to suffer loss, you will have to suffer pain. But let me tell you, He said, 'If you lose your life for My sake, you will find it' and if you say 'I won't pay that price', then, at the end of your life, you will have to pay an even, even greater price of eternal separation from God and eternal damnation in the fires of hell. This is not about money, this is not about cancer, this is about God, this is about your soul. This is about who made you and what you are made for and Jesus came to recover a lost humanity- includes you, I pray this morning that by the grace of God, you will turn from sin and come to Jesus Christ.
For those of you who are going through Gethsemane-like situations, don't fall asleep, don't slip off, don't slacken in your walk with Him but come and pray. Like JI Packer would say, 'Pray until the grip of sin loosens in your life'. Pray that God will give you the strength to fulfill all that He wants you to fulfill. Pray not just that you will be delivered from it. but you will find victory through it because He has a beautiful reason why. And I pray that more of Jesus will be seen in You unto His glory.
Father, we thank You this morning for Your Word: Solemn scene at the garden of olive. What was crushed was Your Son, what came forth were precious tears, but what meaningful tears they are: of pain, and prayer and purpose. As we see our own lives being mirrored in this scene, I pray that we will follow in the same footsteps of Your Son. Thank you that He now becomes the Author of eternal salvation. Oh God, may none in this room just go through the motions this morning, but may all have the conviction of the Holy Spirit that they may turn from sin and believe in Your Son and follow Him. We pray this now in Jesus' Name, Amen.
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