Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Final Week- The Garden of Gethsemane

This week we continued our Easter series at Wednesday Night Worship looking at the Final Week of Jesus' life leading up to the crucifixion.  We began the night by playing "Who Wants to Win A Cadbury Egg" with questions surrounding the crucifixion.  Our set list for the night included:  "I Am Free", "Opposite Way" (Leeland), "Because of Your Love" (Phil Wickham), and "God With Us" (Mercy Me).

We all have difficult choices to make each and every day.  We spent some time discussing some of our difficult choices.  Some students shared that where to go to college is a difficult choice that they are facing.  Someone shared that the decision of whether to wear Sperry's or some other shoes was her most difficult choice that day.  We all face difficult decisions because we are human and it is a part of life.  Jesus faced a difficult decision in the Garden of Gethsemane.  As we continue in this series to look at the question "Who is He?" or "Who is Jesus?", this week and next we are looking at the fact that Jesus is fully God and fully man.  He is not part God and part man.  The deity of Jesus is an extremely important aspect of our faith.  So this week we mainly focused on the fact that Jesus is fully man.

In Matthew 26:36-42 we read about Jesus' time of prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane.  From the Triumphal Entry to now in these few days there has been quite a bit that has occurred.  Each day of this final week Jesus taught in the temple.  He taught several parables and even taught in response to those who tried to trick Him.  He cleansed the temple by driving out those buying and selling.  He took part in the Passover meal with the disciples and spent time with them in fellowship, teaching them, washing their feet, predicting His death, predicting Peter's denial, and saying that Judas would betray Him. After this He goes to the Garden of Gethsemane to be alone and pray as He often did.  This is a time where He really spends some intimate time with God the Father.  

In verses 38, 39, and 42 Jesus refers to God as "My Father".  Jesus calls God "Father" often and this time it can be noted the intimate use as He says "My Father".  During this time it was a foreign concept to refer to God as Father.  The people were even afraid to say the name of God out of reverence.  But here Jesus refers to Him as "My Father" and if we look at Mark 14:36 He says "Abba! Father!".  The word "Abba" is Aramaic and the closest translation to the English language would be the word "Daddy".

In verse 39 Jesus uses the word "cup".  The word "cup" here is a symbol of divine wrath against sin.  Jesus knew what He was about to face.  He was about to bear the sins of all humankind.  The sins of every person who had ever existed and the sins of every person that will ever exist.  This is especially difficult in the fact that Jesus has never felt the sting of sin because He never committed a single sin.  He is perfect!  He also knows the awful cruel death that He is about to face.  Jesus also knows that He is about to face separation from God the Father, which is also something that He has never experienced.  It is in this moment that we see the humanity of Jesus as He dreads the road ahead.  Now we must understand that Jesus did not for one moment try to back out of what was ahead, but we have to believe that He was tempted in this moment.  I am sure the spiritual warfare going on was intense beyond what we can imagine.  Jesus was experiencing an extreme amount of dread, stress, and anguish as in Luke 22:44 is points out that "His sweat became like drops of blood".  This is a true physical phenomenon known as "hematidrosis" which occurs when one goes through an extreme amount of stress and the capillaries actually burst and comes out through sweat glands.  I have been stressed out, but not to this extreme.  So in this moment we truly see the humanity of Jesus, and He had a decision in front of Him.  He knew that the toughest part of His mission was ahead, and He knew that the angels could rescue Him from the situation if He called on them, but He yielded to the will of the Father.  In verse 42 He says "Your will be done" as He voluntarily surrenders His will to the will of the Father.

So a final question we prayerfully considered as we ended the night is this:  "What is your cup?".  The characteristics of our cup is in no way comparable to the cup that Jesus faced.  But we all face difficult decisions on our journeys in life.  Each of us are facing decisions that are extremely difficult, and we know what the right choice is, we just need to make it.  For some people it may that they need to stop a lifestyle of sin.  For others it may mean that they need to separate themselves from a friend or group of friends that are a bad influence.  Some may need to forgive someone who has hurt them.  Some it may be something as simple as deciding some things to give up in order to make time for a daily relationship with Jesus.  Whatever the choice in life, we can take joy in the fact that we know that Jesus in His humanity faced difficult choices and empathizes with us.  Hebrews 4:15 tells us this and that He was tempted but never sinned.  I pray that you will make the right choices in whatever you are facing today.

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