Facing Gethsemane

Title: Facing Gethsemane

Text: Mark 14:32-42

Time: March 27th, 2006

There are four Sundays until Easter. We’ll be breaking into our series on the Sermon on the Mount in order to take four Sundays to deal with the Easter theme. Today, I’d like to speak on Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. It was in the Garden that he faced the hardest thing of his life — the prospect of suffering and dying on the cross for the sins of the world. And the thing about Jesus is that because of his divinity, being both God and man, he was able to see the suffering that lay ahead; unlike us when we face hard times, most of the time we can’t even see how hard it will be, and it’s a good thing, because we might not be able to face it if we did. But Jesus knew how hard it would be to die for the sins of the world, he knew he would be beaten near to death before the cross, and then he knew that on the cross there would be even more suffering as the sins of the world were laid upon him by God the Father as an atonement for the sins of the world. Jesus saw all this suffering that lay ahead, and the man Jesus was in distress, was grieving, was dreading going through with it, as anyone would, faced with such a painful path. But Jesus can teach us something about going through painful times, going through suffering, going through hardships, distress and grief. Jesus shows us in the Garden how to face our darkest hour. Most people will at one time or another face hard times. There are so many things in life that can go wrong, and sometimes do go wrong. Some of us will know pain and grief ahead in our lives. Some of us will face tragedy and trials in life. Some of us have already gone through hard times, sad times, and difficult times already. And the future doesn’t promise there won’t be more of that, so we have to be ready. How do we prepare ourselves for these coming times of difficulty? How do we prepare ourselves for some life-threatening disease or injury? How do we get ready for some tragic death of a loved one? How do we prepare for facing grief, sadness, pain, and distress? Jesus has a lot to teach us because he went through these things and gives us a pattern to follow. So today as we enter the forth Sunday until Easter let’s turn to the Garden of Gethsemane and learn from the Savior how to face life’s hard times. I don’t know when, but some day, it could be soon or far off, you and I will have to apply these truths that I give today. Let’s learn from Jesus what to do when facing the hard times of life. Mark 14:32-42 (read). I see three things Jesus shows us here in facing difficult times in life: first, what to do in hard times, pray; second, how to pray in hard times, praying for deliverance; third, how to pray if it must be, to help us through it. These are three things Jesus did when he faced his most difficult time on earth.

First, What do we do in our seasons of distress? Pray. Vv. 32-34, “they went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I pray,’ he took Peter, James, and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,’ he said to them. ‘Stay here and keep watch.’” When Jesus was facing the hardest time of his life he went to prayer. Now that’s not what most people do today most of the time when they face hard times in life, is it? What do people do today in our world, in our country, in this area, in Jamestown? A lot of people start drinking, using the bottle to drown away their sorrows, isn’t that right? There are so many bars and liquor stores around here because lots of people use alcohol as something to face hard times with. But that’s not a good thing, in fact, it’s a bad thing because alcohol never solved any problem whatsoever, it only covers it over for a few hours, and then the problem is back bigger than ever. Some people face their difficulties in life with drugs, but that’s the same thing as alcohol, after the drugs wear off, the problem is still there, maybe even worse if you’ve done something stupid while on drugs. Some people do foolish things when they are going through hard times, like walk out on their marriage or leave the family; they try to escape from life as they know it. Some people turn violent. We hear in the papers almost every week about some guy who loses his job, gets a divorce, goes bankrupt, or something bad, and then goes out and shoots somebody or drives a car at high speed through the city almost killing somebody, or gets arrested by the police for something and sent to jail. There are thousands of ways people react to hard times and most of them are bad way. How do you react when facing a pain? Some people just withdraw, pull the shades, and go to bed, and sleep and sleep because life is too hard to live. That leads to depression, that’s no good either. How do you deal with painful times in life? Well, however you’ve dealt with it in the past, Jesus shows us how to deal with it in the future, that is with prayer. Now Jesus was really hurting in the Garden. We may think of Jesus as this divine figure, and he was, but he was also a man, he was both God and man in one. That’s a mystery, you’ll never be able to think it through because it’s beyond our minds, but that is the truth. But as a man, he suffered all the hurts and pains that a man would suffer being crucified. But worst of all, as divine, he would suffer mentally and spiritually in carrying all the sins of the world on the cross. So there were two sufferings, the physical and mental torture, and then the spiritual pain. How did he deal with all this? In prayer. And that’s how we should deal with all pain and suffering in our life too. He also got others to pray for and with him, which is also what we should do as well. Let others help us bear our burdens in prayer with us when we are going through tough times in life. Prayer should be our first and instinctive act when we face hard times in life.

Second, How are we to pray in the hard times of life? For God to deliver us from it. Vv. 35-38, “Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. ‘Abba, Father,’ he said, ‘everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.’ They he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. ‘Simon,’ he said to Peter, ‘are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing but the body is weak.’” Jesus prays to the Father that the cup might pass, or in other words, that he might not have to actually go through with the suffering as planned. He prayed that there might be, possibly, some other way to save the world from it’s sins. He was praying that the heavenly Father might find a way to deliver him from his suffering through some other means. And that is what we must pray when we face hard times in life, that God takes away the pain, delivers us from our problem, saves us from having to face a difficult future. If a child gets deadly sick or is seriously injured, we pray immediately that the good Lord heals the child, spares its life, brings it home again from the hospital. If a man loses his job, but has bills to pay to support a family, he needs to pray that God delivers him from unemployment by finding him a new job quickly so he and his family don’t have to suffer the stress and struggles of financial needs and pressures. If someone gets cancer, we pray that they would be delivered from that. Nobody wants to go through suffering if its not needed. Jesus didn’t want to die for our sins if there was some other way to save us. Neither should we pray anything less than for God’s full deliverance from our hardship. And we should get other people praying for our deliverance too. Jesus had his disciples praying but unfortunately they weren’t praying as much as sleeping. That should be a reminder to us as well that we must be patient with the people we ask to pray for us. They may treat our request in a casual way, they may forget to pray (like the disciples), they may give up praying for us after a while. Why? Because they have their own problems in life to pray about and they can’t possibly be as concerned about our pain as we are. But if you can find some real prayer warrior friends who will pray with you through the hard times of life, you’ve found gold, because they are hard to come by. Jesus couldn’t count on his disciples to pray with him, but at least they stood by him in his stress. That always helps to have some people stand with you in your moment of pain, even if they neglect prayer on your behalf. So let us pray to God for deliverance from our time of suffering.

Third, How do we pray if suffering must be? “Lord, help me through it.” Vv. 39-42, “Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him. Returning the third time, he said to them, ‘Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! Here comes the betrayer!’” It says that when Jesus faced his darkest hour he prayed, and then it said he prayed for deliverance out of the suffering. When that was not granted, he then prayed for strength to go through the suffering. He prayed, “Abba, Father, everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” After he began to see that the Father would not remove the cup of suffering from his life, he realized that the Father would have to take him through it, praying, “Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Sometimes we find that God is not going to get us out of trouble but that he’s going to bring us through trouble. Of the two, I prefer getting out of trouble, don’t you? If I go to the doctors and they see something wrong with me, my first prayer is, “Lord, don’t let it be anything bad,” But then if that prayer isn’t going to be answered, then my next prayer is, “Lord, help me through this.” I’ve prayed both kinds of prayers; I’ve seen both kinds of answers. Like I said, I prefer the first kind, where God takes away the pain, the problem, the trials, the troubles. I love it when God swoops down and performs a miracle and delivers me from my distress. But that doesn’t always happen, so the next prayer is, “Ok Lord, if you aren’t going to deliver me, please be with me as I go through this.” Sometimes people give up on God because he doesn’t answer their prayer the first time. They start out right by praying over their troubles, but they give up after God doesn’t answer their prayer of deliverance at first. They then start dealing with troubles like most people do, drinking, drugs, escapism, anger, etc. But that’s no good. Jesus didn’t give up on the Father, he just trusted even more. The disciples were with Jesus but they really didn’t help much in his time of distress in the Garden. That shows us that we shouldn’t lean too heavily on expecting people to be able to do much for us during our dark hours of life. In fact, when we go through hard times, many of our friends may not be around much because they just don’t know what to do. A lot of times nobody but God can help us. We should try to help as much as we can when people we care about are in trouble, but we shouldn’t be surprised if there isn’t much we can do. We shouldn’t be surprised if there is nothing anyone can do during tough times in our life. Trusting God is really what it comes down to.

I know many of you have already gone through hard times in life. You can be sure that there are still more hard times again. Thank the Lord we don’t know what lays ahead because if we did we’d worry about it. No, God keeps that knowledge away from us so that we can live in the present and not worry about the future. Now I don’t know how you’ve handled tough times in the past. Probably at times you’ve handled it well, but probably at other times, you didn’t handle it too well. Maybe you reacted like lots of people do in destructive behavior, maybe you withdrew from the world for long periods of time, maybe you abused drugs, or drank too much. I don’t know, but at least now you know how to face a crisis by following the example of Jesus who went immediately and stayed in prayer.

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