Jesus leads His Disciples into the Garden of Gethsemane on the night He will be betrayed, where we see His Disciples fail Him in His hour of need. And we'll come face-to-face with the reality that we fail Jesus too. But there's good news in our Saviour's response to our failures...
We're going through the gospel of Matthew, and if you're not familiar with the Bible, it's an account of the Life and Ministry of Jesus recorded by one of his disciples named Matthew.
And as we pick up our study in Chapter 26, we are in the final hours that Jesus has with his disciples before he is betrayed, arrested, tried, beaten and then ultimately crucified the next day.
Jesus has just shared his final meal, the famous Last Supper with his disciples, and he is now leading them down one side of the Kidron Valley in Jerusalem over a brook that would have been running red that evening with the blood of tens of thousands of Passover lambs that were being sacrificed upstream at the temple that very hour, the killing of the Passover lambs manifested the somber reality that our sin always ultimately results in death.
But those same Passover lambs also foreshadowed the work that Jesus would accomplish in less than 24 hours when he would die on the cross as our Passover lamb, the one sacrificed for all of our sins in our place.
During their meal and this subsequent walk, Jesus has been sharing some of his most important teachings with his disciples, the things he most wants them to know before he is arrested and killed. Then Jesus stopped. He prayed a deeply personal prayer to his father in heaven and allowed his disciples to listen in. It's known as his high priestly prayer. And you can read it in John Chapter 17.
Once on the other side of the Kidron Valley, they would make their way up the Mount of Olives, where at the base was the Garden of Gethsemani, a garden of olive trees.
Luke's gospel tells us that Jesus went there regularly to pray.
It was also a place where oil was made by pressing olives. And it is in this garden where we will see Jesus pressed in this study. There will be practical application in this study, but I don't think that's what's most important.
My prayer is that each of us, whether new to the faith or decades into it, would be overwhelmed by the love of Jesus for us, displayed in what he went through on the earth for you and I, because his torment and anguish begins in earnest in this portion of scripture. His whole life was difficult.
Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would be a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, but it was on this night that the darkest few days in the history of the world began to unfold.
And at the center of all this darkness was Jesus. Throughout his betrayal, arrest, trials, beatings and crucifixions, it was not ropes that bound Jesus or nails that would hold him to the cross.
No. Jesus was bound by his love for you and I. If you marvel at anything in today's study, if you take note of anything. Let it be this. That Jesus loves you. Jesus loves you. And everything he's about to go through, he went through with full knowledge of everything about you, everything. He knew all your darkest secrets. He knows all your greatest failures, past and future. Your most heinous sins. And knowing all of that, he's going to go through all of this for you.
Because he loves you. You can bet your life on it. So let's rejoin Jesus and his disciples in Matthew, chapter 26, verse 30. It says, and when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives and if you're curious, they were probably singing something from Psalms 113 through 118.
The Talmud designated these as the praise psalms of Egypt, which were sung by the Jews around the time of Passover.
And if you'll take some time this week to quieten your mind and your soul and read and reflect on Psalms 113 through one hundred and eighteen, I guarantee that you will find yourself blessed. There are absolutely wonderful verse 31. Then Jesus said to them, All of you will be made to stumble because of me this night. That phrase cause to stumble means you'll be cause to take offense at me. The idea is Jesus was saying, Right now I'm your friend, I'm your rabbi, I'm your leader, and you're proud to know me.
But tonight. I'm going to become something that you'll be ashamed of and offended by. And then quoting Zechariah, 13 seven, Jesus continues four, it is written, I will strike the shepherd and the sheep of the flock will be scattered. Do you know who the eye is in that verse?
Who's going to strike the shepherd? Zacharia tells us that it's the lord of hosts, it's the lord of hosts who is going to strike the shepherd.
You see, ultimately it will not be the Jews or the Romans who will smite Jesus. It will be his own heavenly father because Jesus is going to take our place and receive the wrath of God against our sins. Can you imagine how this statement would have made the disciples feel they've just enjoyed an intimate meal together? Conversation has been flowing and Jesus has been sharing the secrets of his kingdom. Sure, they didn't understand much of what Jesus was teaching, but they understood it was special.
They understood it was privileged information. They've been given the opportunity to listen in as Jesus praise to his heavenly father, can you imagine that?
And now Jesus suddenly says, all of you will be made to stumble because of me this night. The disciples would have been confused and shocked as Jesus continued in verse 32, but after I've been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.
So if Jesus's words weren't shocking enough yet, he goes on and says, But don't be too discouraged because after I've risen from the dead. I'll catch up with you all in Galilea. How strange would that have sounded to them? They would have said, Jesus, were you going with this? What are you talking about? But what Jesus has just said is exactly what will happen. And we'll read about it when we get to Matthew, Chapter 28.
Now we're going to see Peter once again, help Jesus by informing him that he clearly doesn't know what he's talking about in this instance, because what he has just said will happen couldn't possibly happen.
In verse 33, it says, Peter answered and said to him, Jesus, even if all even if all are made to stumble because of you. I will never be made to stumble. Man, listen, listen, Peter, Peter loves the Lord, and here's what you got to know. Peter means every word that he says here. He means every word.
He genuinely believes it. He believes that as much as we do when we sing things like you can have all of me, Lord. Or I'll follow you all the days of my life. Peter says, hey, that might be true for the other guys, Jesus, but not for me, I'll never fail you. I have decided to follow Jesus.
No turning back. No turning back. Peter had a lot to learn about his own frailty. About his own sinfulness and his own brokenness, just like we do. Peter had yet to learn this hard truth that still applies to you and I today, would you make a note of this on your outlines? The person who believes they will never stumble. Already has. The person who believes they will never stumble already has. I'm going to get through this because I got a can do attitude.
I'm a self-made man, a self-made woman. I'm a go getter. I'm a goal setter. I've got grit. I got determination. I won't be tempted. I'm done with that sin. I won't fall into sin because I love Jesus with my whole heart. I never go back to that scene again. Often the reason we find ourselves saying, I can't believe I did that, oh, I can't believe I said that.
Is because because we had become overconfident in ourselves, overconfident in ourselves, we'd forgotten that, yeah, we've got redeemed spirits, we've got new life, we've got Holy Spirit power inside of us. But we forget that we're still battling our corrupted flesh are sinful flesh, the apostle Paul, he nailed it when he said, for I know that in me that is in my flesh, nothing good dwells, nothing good dwells.
In other words, our hope for walking in righteousness, walking in the paths that lead to life, walking in love and grace. Our hope to live that way cannot be in our own goodness because there's no such thing. There's no such thing as our own good goodness.
Our hope can't be in our own willpower. Our hope can't be in our own strength and resolve and discipline. Here's the point. Write this down. It's a mistake to believe that your physical flesh. We'll help you win a spiritual battle, it's a mistake to believe that your physical flesh will help you win a spiritual battle.
Our hope has to be placed in the power of God, in the blood of Jesus, in the strength of his spirit, which we can live in and we can walk in if we will walk through life with Jesus, clinging to Jesus, looking to Jesus, holding on to Jesus, relying on Jesus.
Now, Jesus responds to Peter's claim that he won't stumble verse 8 34, Jesus said to him, assuredly. I say to you that this night. Before the rooster crows. You'll deny me three times. Roosters would typically begin crowing around 3:00 a.m., so Jesus replies to Peter and says, let me get even more specific.
Peter. Not only are you going to stumble tonight. But you're going to deny even knowing me, even knowing who I am and you're going to do it three times in the next few hours. Peter said to him, Even if I have to die with you, I will not deny you. And so said, would you underline this word and so said all the disciples, all the disciples say me to Lord me to, I'll die before I'll desert you.
And you know what? They meant to. They meant it. Just like the Israelites meant, it went after Moses presented them with God's covenant and God's laws, they responded by declaring to a man all that the Lord has spoken.
We will do all that. The Lord has spoken. We will do. The disciples meant it just like we mean it, as I said, when we sing songs about how we love God with our whole heart, how we'll follow him all the days of our life, how there's nothing we love more than him. They meant it. And we mean it, don't we? And as Jesus listen to them and looked at them. As he looks at you, as he looks at me.
He thinks to himself. I know that you want to. And I love that you want to. Because if you've walked with Jesus for more than a few years, then you figured something out. And if you haven't, you will. You figure it out, the truth about you and I. We won't follow got all the days of our life. We want. There will be days when we take off in the direction that is opposite to the will of God.
There will be days when we love our sin. More than we love God. There will be days when he will lead. But we will not follow. There will be days when he will speak. We will hear. And will choose to disobey a. And when you realize that you will do those things. After you've been saved, after you understand the gospel message in the cross. It should make you realize two things. Firstly. You and I are so much more broken than we realize.
But secondly. The grace of God is so much greater than we realize. You know, I look forward to heaven so much and I look forward to receiving a resurrected body that is free from corruption and sin because more than anything. I can't wait to be able to say to the Lord, I love you with my whole heart. And have it be true. I can't wait because right now in this fallen, broken, fleshly body, the best I can say if I'm being honest is I want to love you with my whole heart.
Lord. I want to I want to. My spirit is willing, but, man, my flesh is weak and so I can't wait for the day when I can tell God I love you with my whole heart and it won't mean I love you with my whole heart right now or I love you with my whole heart in this moment.
It will actually mean I love you with my whole heart. Every moment from now. Until eternity. Can't wait. It'll mean forever. Jesus doesn't argue with his disciples because he knows that they want to be faithful to him. And he knows that they don't yet understand their own sinfulness. I don't think I'm running the story when I tell you they're all going to run. They're all going to abandon Jesus. And here's the good news, though. Jesus is not going to abandon them.
He's not going to give up on them. He's going to keep working on that, he's going to keep working through them. And he's going to build the church on them. And when it's all said and done, every single one of them will again be faced with the threat of death for being Jesus's disciple. And when that moment comes again. None of them. We'll turn away again, all except John will die as martyrs rather than disown Jesus, and John will only survive because the attempts to kill him fail.
When you begin to see that God is doing all this in your life. It will make you love Jesus in such a deep way when you begin to realize how faithful he is and how faithful you're not, when you begin to realize that he's still working on you and he's still working through you, even after all your failures and mess ups, when you finally grasp the truth that he never leaves you.
He never forsakes you. You become the kind of disciple that is willing to die for Jesus because he's worth it. Because he's worthy, because he's wonderful. This interaction between Jesus and Peter and the rest of the disciples is also a reminder to us that everything the Lord says is true even when we don't want to hear it. We love it when it comes to the good things of God, don't we? We love that what God says is true when it comes to the hope filled promises of his word.
But we need to remember that everything God says is also true when it's hard to hear. It's also true when it's a truth about us and our brokenness and our sinfulness. That's not so pretty.
We have to watch out that like Peter and the disciples in this moment, we don't hear the word of God about us. And respond with hey, hey, listen, Lord, that might be true for other people, but that's not true for me. Because the Lord's not going to argue with us, he's God, he doesn't have to explain himself to anyone or to defend his views or opinions because everything he says is true.
If we try to argue with him, he'll simply allow us to make our own decisions. And if we ignore his counsel, experience the natural consequences, which is usually about the time that we begin crying out, why is God forsaken me?
Would you write this down, because we need the reminder? Everything God's word says about me is true, everything God's word says about me is true, the good, the bad and the ugly. I am not an exception. I am not an exception.
When the word of God says, hey, stay away from these things because they'll get you involved with sin that will destroy your life.
I'm not the exception. When the word of God says, treat your spouse this way, if you want to have a blessed marriage, I'm not the one exception. And when the word of God says, trust me. Put me first, do things my way, and you'll be blessed. I'm not the exception. Everything God's word says about us is true, and you and I can convince ourselves that we're the exception to what God's word says, but we'll always find out in the end that his word never returns void.
It never comes to nothing. It's always true if there's an area of your life where if you're honest. You know that you're telling yourself you're the exception to what the word of God says, that it's not going to affect you. Let me urge you and let me warn you out of great love for you to change your thinking. You will not be the exception that will prove the word of God to be false. That's not going to happen. And maybe the Lord has you hearing this message today so that you can hear that from me clearly.
Now on the flip side of that reality, when you do honor the Lord, you will not be the one exception to his good promises.
You will be blessed. You will experience his goodness in his favor. You will experience abundant life because there are no exceptions to the truths of the word of God, whether they be warnings or blessings.
Verse 8 36.
Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemani and said to the disciples, Sit here while I go and pray over there. And he took with them Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, referring to those nicknamed the Sons of Thunder, James and John. So he takes Peter, James and John, the three disciples with whom he is closest with him to pray, it says, and he began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed.
Then he said to them, underline this. My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with me, Jesus tells his boys that his soul can feel the shadow of death. Beginning to creep over him, the light of life is beginning to feel for the first time, the darkness.
And it is not fleeing from him. Because he's allowing it to come. The wait and reality of what Jesus is about to face is starting to bear down upon him. Yes, the torture would almost kill him on its own. Yes, his crucifixion would be horrific and would kill him.
But what weighed most upon Jesus was the knowledge that all of our sin was about to be placed upon him and in that condition. He would be separated from his heavenly father for the first time in all of eternity. And he would then face the wrath of his father toward our sins. Completely alone, completely alone. Alone, in a way. We could never grasp. Out of fellowship with the Trinity for the first time ever. Completely alone in a darkness, more suffocating.
Then we have words to describe. And as this the reality begins to tear at Jesus's heart and mind, he says to his closest earthly friends, Peter, James and John, can you sit with me?
Can you just be with me right now? In my moment of suffering. And I find this request from Jesus striking.
Because he was more closely in relationship with his heavenly father than any of us will ever be on this Earth, and yet in his time of suffering and trial, after praying to his heavenly father and in addition to praying to his heavenly father, what did Jesus want?
He wanted to be with his brothers. He wanted them to be with him, to pray with him, to talk with him. To just sit with him. God has designed us to minister to one another, even with just our presence, and isn't it wonderful that that God has designed us so that we can minister to one another, no matter what our different levels are of spiritual maturity? The newest Christian has the ability to minister to the most experienced Christian just through their presence.
You have Jesus, the son of God. Being ministered to by these guys who are not even Christians yet, they're the most baby version of believers you could get.
But they're able to minister to Jesus by just being with him. Jesus desired to be minister to buy his brother's. And we see that in his regular trips to Bethany, where he would visit with Mary, Martha and Lazarus, that Jesus was blessed by his sisters in the Lord as well.
He just loved being around them. It matters that we're with each other.
It matters that we're with each other, especially when you're struggling, get yourself to church, get yourself a home group, do whatever you have to do to get around other believers.
If there's worship going on and you can't even bring yourself to sing, you'll be amazed how you'll be minister, too.
If you'll just get around other believers that are worshipping the Lord, that are praying, that are seeking the Lord and thanking him together because God designed us to be together and he gave us the ability to minister to one another, even with just our presence.
Verse 39, he went a little farther and fell on his face and prayed, saying, underline this. Now, the whole rest of the sentence.
Oh, my father. If it is possible. Let this pass for me nevertheless. Not as I will. But as you will. Undoubtedly, one of the most incredible and important verse is in the gospels, this tells us that that the cup of the father's wrath, his wrath against all of the sins of humanity, past, present and future, the just and right punishment that our sins deserve.
That had been stored up. Like wine in a cup. This cup of RAF. It was something awful. And Jesus was going to be the one to drink it. This Verse 8 tells us that the cross would be horrific for Jesus, the man. But also for Jesus, the son of God. His being God did not protect him from the horrors of the cross, but rather amplified them. He endured more on more levels, in more dimensions.
Then we could hope to understand this side of heaven. We see in this verse that the cross was not easy for Jesus. The cost was incalculably high. The torment indescribable. In the original language, what the text actually implies. Is that Jesus is saying if it is possible and it is possible. Let this cup pass from me. And here's what I want us to notice. We see here that Jesus not only submitted to the will of his father.
When it was easy or convenient, but write this down. Jesus remained submitted to the will of his father even when it was most difficult and most costly. Jesus remains submitted to the will of his father even when it was most difficult and most costly. And there's much there for each of us to reflect on Jesus as our example. Are we committed to obeying our Heavenly Father only when it's easy or convenient? When it doesn't cost us very much. Or are we committed to our being our heavenly father?
No matter the cost. Oh, my father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me. Nevertheless, not as I will. But as you will. That last part, nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will, is what Jesus meant when he said back in Matthew 16, if anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me. I really want us to take to heart.
The powerful word that Jesus uses there, nevertheless, that word means, despite everything I've just said, nevertheless. To take up your cross and follow Jesus means doing what he did, putting the father's will. Above everything else in your life, even when it's most difficult and most costly. It doesn't mean pretending serving God isn't sometimes painful. It doesn't mean pretending that it's always easy and fun. To follow Jesus and live by his word. It doesn't mean pretending that there's not areas of your life where it's especially difficult to do things God's way.
It doesn't mean deluding yourself about the reality of your situation through some sort of positive confession.
That's not what we see Jesus doing here. It means being able to be honest about all of those things, honest about the cost, honest about the difficulty, but when you finally reach the end of your grievances, when you finally reach the end of all your challenges and obstacles.
You add this to the end. Nevertheless. Not as I will. But as you will. That's what it means to take up your cross and follow Jesus. And it only makes me love Jesus more to know that he chose to go to the cross, he chose to do it knowing full well how awful it would be because he loves us.
He just loves us. Verse 8 40, then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping and said to Peter, What could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray lest you enter into temptation. The spirit is indeed willing. But the flesh is weak. Jesus is saying, I've asked you to stay up with me in my hour of need and you're asleep.
I've told you that you're going to stumble tonight, and instead of being in prayer about that, you're sleeping. See, already, PETA is beginning to falter. He's ready to face death for Jesus, but he can't even stay up late for Jesus. That's why we love Peter, isn't it? He's relatable, he's us, and while Jesus is hurting, he's in anguish.
I believe that he sighs with empathy. As he says, the spirit is indeed willing. But the flesh is weak because Jesus, having been human for 33 years at this point, knows what it's like to be us. He knows our frailty. That's what the writer of Hebrews tells us in a couple of Verse is that are so precious to me personally.
In Hebrews four, 15 and 16, we read, we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Jesus sympathizes with our human weakness because he knows what it's like to be us. He knows. But he also overcame our human weakness and lived a sinless life, so he's able to actually help us in our weakness.
I take great encouragement from all this because as the events that would lead to the crisis unfold, we find that the disciples offer no meaningful or real help in any way. They're completely useless, the work is entirely the Lords, and even as they fail him, Jesus still shares the secrets of his kingdom with them. He loves on them, he serves them.
He tells them about his plans to bless them for all eternity.
Because there's no one like Jesus, there's no one like him, he knows that our spirits are willing, but man, our flesh is weak. And while Jesus has a plan to solve that problem in eternity, he also gives us credit for fighting the good fight in the meantime. Jesus gave his disciples credit for at least recognizing him as the son of God and for doing their best to walk with him, hanging over all the disciples failures, hanging over their pending abandonment of Jesus.
Are these words spoken to them by Jesus at the very beginning of the Last Supper? Earlier this very same evening, recorded in Luke's Gospel Chapter 22, where Jesus said to his disciples, But you are those who have continued with me in my trials. You are those who have continued with me in my trials, and I bestow upon you a kingdom. Just as my father bestowed one upon me that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom.
Really? You are those who have continued with me in my trials. They couldn't even stay awake in his trials. Jesus knows. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak, and when I see how Jesus viewed the disciples back then, it reminds me that as crazy as it sounds. I can actually be a blessing to Jesus, too, and that encourages me a whole lot. Verse 8 42, again, a second time, he Jesus went away and prayed, saying, oh, my father, if this cup cannot pass away from me unless I drink it, your will be done.
And he came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy. And I love this little note that Mark's gospel adds at this point, it adds. And they did not know what to answer him. Have you been there with the Lord? You fail him. You let them down, you don't have any excuses or any explanation other than. I just failed, I failed, Lord. You know, it's that kind of honesty that makes the gospels so credible, Verse 8 44.
So he left them, went away again and prayed the third time saying the same words. Then he came to his disciples and said to them, Are you still sleeping and resting?
Behold the hours at hand. And the son of man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise. Let us be going. And motioning toward Judas, who had just shown up, Jesus says, see, my betrayer is at hand. Jesus told his disciples, the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. It means he understood. Their response and their failure, but it doesn't mean he excused it. What's implied is that had the disciples chosen to pray instead of sleep, they may have gained the strength needed to withstand the temptation to disown Jesus.
In his hour of trial, when Jesus was facing his greatest trial, he could be found praying when the disciples were facing down their greatest trial. Up to that point, they could be found sleeping. Jesus sought spiritual strength and relief from his anguish.
The disciples sought carnal, fleshly relief from their anguish and ran toward sleep instead of prayer. Would you write this down? Carnal relief to stress is always temporary, never brings true victory and doesn't help in the long run. Looking for relief in the flesh. It's always temporary. It never brings true victory, and it doesn't help in the long run. Charlene and I have six kids. It may surprise you to learn there's some stress that comes along with that sometimes and sometimes the way we deal with that stress is with a nice bottle of Marleau and something like a bag of snapper's there, these chocolate and caramel covered pretzels that you can get a Costco that are just out of this world, straight up carnal relief.
That's what it is. But you know what?
It pays off in the long run because the kernel relief really helps us the next time we have to deal with a stressful situation because we've stored up this productive response for the next time that it arises. Oh, wait. No, it doesn't. Because there are no long lasting benefits to coronal relief, none. Spiritual relief, on the other hand, can bring about lasting change, true victory, and can help you the next time you face that same stress.
When we go to the Lord in prayer, when we invite him into our situation, when we ask him to give us his thoughts on the situation. We gain access to true relief. The disciples needed to sleep. But they needed to pray even more. Wine is good in moderation, snappers are good in moderation. But prayer is better. Church, hear me on this, if you only seek carnal relief to your stress and your anguish, you will fall and you will fail when the testing comes.
We need spiritual relief and we need spiritual help, first and foremost. If the Holy Spirit is laying something on your heart, if he's speaking to you about something in your life, specifically through this message, you should listen to him use this coming time of of of worship to ask him what it is that he wants to say to you and what he's highlighting in your life. This is one of those studies where it just sense that the Lord wants to highlight different things for different people.
So you ask the Lord what he wants to say to you.
Frederick Leahy said. Lord, forgive us for the times we have read about Gethsemani with dry eyes. He said to them, My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Oh, my father, if it is possible. Let this cup pass from me. Nevertheless, not as I will. But as you well. And being in agony. He prayed more earnestly. Then his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And later on, we'll read.
Then all the disciples forsook him and fled. Jesus loves you. He really, really loves you. So walk with him. If you've wandered from it, come back to him, walk with him again. And if you've never known him, now's the time to come to him. And if you want to learn more about what it means to begin a relationship with Jesus, I just want to ask you to. To go to the website at my new hope gutsier slash gospel and watch the short gospel message video there, fill out the form, let us know that you're responding to the message of Jesus love for you.
Would you buy your head, close your eyes and pray with me? Father, thank you for your word and thank you most of all for your son, Jesus, thank you for sending him and Jesus, thank you for coming. Thank you for what you went through for us. Thank you that you chose to go through it and you didn't turn away. And you weren't held in place by ropes or by soldiers, but. You were restrained by your love for us.
Compelled by your love for us. That through the cross, we might become adopted sons and daughters of your father, your brothers and sisters, and sit and eat at your table in your kingdom for all eternity. Thank you for what you've done for us. Jesus, we love you. And if there's something you want to do in our life, we just invite you to do it, we give you access. We want to take up our cross and follow after you.
Whatever the cost. That however difficult it may be, we would say, as you did. Nevertheless. No, I will. But your speed-up. We love you, Jesus, and we bless you in your name, we pray. Amen. Amen.