As we are getting closer to Easter Sunday, we have to look at an important event leading up to the Cross. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus had an honest encounter with his Father in Heaven, and we can look at things in our own life that parallel this garden experience. “Gethsemane” means “oil press,” and sometimes we feel like God is pressing us to make us more like him every day. Gardens usually symbolize life, but in this story this was a preparation for death. Most of us at one time or another have questioned God and even thought to ourselves he wouldn’t understand what we are going through. In Hebrews 4:15 we read that Jesus was tempted in every way like we were, yet he never sinned. Just think that the ones that were praising him during his triumphal entry on Palm Sunday were the same ones that deserted him later in the week.
We notice several things that are found in this garden that we certainly relate to. First of all, we see disinterest as his disciples were falling asleep when Jesus asked them to keep watch and pray. I’m sure this was very disheartening to Jesus, but yet he kept trying to wake them up. In Acts 20 we read about a man that was falling asleep during Paul’s message and fell out of the third story window to his death! I wonder if some of us are like that man, leaning back about to fall asleep due to lack of interest in the things of God. Ephesians 5:14 says, “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” If you are not interested in the things of God, pray that God will change your appetite to be interested in what God is doing in these last days.
Next, we find in Mark 14 that Jesus was distressed. The Bible tells us that he even sweat drops of blood as he prayed and cried out to God. We even see a foreshadow of the cross from David in Psalms 22 as he talks about everyone mocking Jesus and piercing his hands and feet. Jesus was upset, afraid and anxious and we can only imagine what he was going through in that moment. The weight of the world and all of it’s sin would be on his shoulders, and we can only imagine the pain and anguish.
Next, we read after the arrest that everyone deserted him and fled. Sometimes you may feel like everyone has deserted you, but regardless of that we need to stand firm for Christ. I’m reminded of a powerful song where the lyrics say, “well done, well done, good and faithful one, welcome to the place where you belong. Well done, well done, my beloved child, you have run the race and now you’re home, welcome to the place where you belong.” When we hear those words from our Savior everything that we have went through will be worth it. Jesus will never desert you, as the Bible tells us he will never leave or forsake you.
Finally, in the garden we find that Jesus was devoted. He went from “my will to thy will” and we all need to get to this place in our garden experience. This is so hard in our every day life to give up what we want for what God wants. As I was working on this message, I got word that our family cat Apple that we have had for many years had passed away. As I was reflecting on what Jesus went through in the garden facing imminent death, I was comforted by the scripture that says death will be the last enemy to be destroyed. Jesus died, but came back from the grave, victorious and gave us all hope for eternal life through his final sacrifice. He could have backed out, and even called 10,000 angels to come and rescue him, but he went to the cross all because of his undying love for you and me. Friday was a tough day as he was crucified for our sins, but we know the story doesn’t end there as Sunday was on the way! The groaning in the garden is a reminder of what he went through, and we are so thankful that he chose to willingly give up his life so we could have everlasting life. I pray that we all remember the garden and in our lives we will say, “not my will but thy will O Lord.”
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Rocky Thomas is Senior Pastor, Botkinburg Foursquare Church