Jesus is the Son of Man
Praying in the Garden
All right let’s turn in our Bibles to Luke chapter 22. As we continue through this last night of Jesus life, we look both back at what has brought us to this point, and ahead to what is coming next. And of the group of people we are looking at, only Jesus knew what was coming.
Jesus had spent the evening with his disciples, eating the Passover Meal, showing them that what he would end up doing would be the ultimate and final fulfillment of the Passover.
He instituted communion, ushering in the New Covenant. He was teaching them and giving them last minute instructions. He reassured them that even when they sinned and fell, that he would be right there with them, and that they are still his. He showed Peter that he would deny Jesus three times before the rooster crowed that next morning. And he especially warned them that hard times were coming, but that none of it would be a surprise to God and that he would be with them through it.
Jesus did all this already knowing that Judas had set in motion the events that would lead to his arrest and his crucifixion. Luke doesn’t record it, but Jesus ends his time with the disciples in the Upper Room with what’s called the High Priestly Prayer, which Frank read a part of this morning. I encourage you to go back and read John 17 when you get the chance, see his public prayer before he and the disciples leave, and we see this morning his private prayers to the God the Father.
So, let’s go ahead and read this morning’s passage, Luke chapter 22, verses 39 through 46. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version and I encourage you to grab your preferred translation and follow along as we read the Word of God.
Luke 22:39-46, The Holy Spirit inspires Luke to record the following.
And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. 40 And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” 41 And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” 43 And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. 44 And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.[g] 45 And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, 46 and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”
May God Bless the Reading of His Holy Word.
So, Jesus and his friends leave the Upper Room, and they actually would leave Jerusalem itself as well. They weren’t actually staying the week in Jerusalem. Instead, as we saw at the end of chapter 21, they were staying just outside the city, as they lodged n the Mount called Olivet, or the Mount of Olives.
So, they left the mean and their time in the Upper Room, and they made their way out of Jerusalem. This, unlike they location of their Passover meal, was not a secret. Judas, of course, knew where they would be headed, and we will see that next week. This is where they would go each and every night.
One of the things we can see in this, not the main point of course, but something that is modeled to us here is that Jesus has a routine. He has a regular way that he did things, when he was able. HE was orderly, scheduled and followed a routine.
There were things that he would not let fall by the wayside. Things that were too important to let things (even good and important things) get in the way of.
We see in scripture, that for Jesus, and there fore should be for us, that he makes a priority and makes sure is part of his routine is prayer time with God the Father. And not only public, group prayer like we see in John 17 before they leave the Upper Room, though of course, that is important and good, but uninterrupted, undistracted, specifically set aside time with the Father.
As they got to the Mount of Olives, Jesus went to pray. He went into the Olive Grove, and this seems to be something that he had done often this week. I think it’s a safe presumption to think he did this each night.
Every night when they returned from Jerusalem, he went to the place, the Garden of Gethsemane, to spend time with and pray to God the Father.
In verse 40, he tells the disciples, and the other Gospels make it clear that he is specifically talking to the inner three, Peter, James and John. He tells them Pray so that you do not enter into temptation. And we see, not for the last time, that Luke is focusing much more on Jesus and his prayer than on the disciples and their failings.
Jesus then goes a short way off and prays by himself. In those days, most people stood as they prayed. Here, Jesus, showing the solemnity and seriousness of the moment, kneels and prays. And he prayed hard. Its entirely possible that one of the reasons he kneeled was because of the physical exertion that the prayer was taking.
Now, Jesus had a full, complete Human Nature. But He also had a full, complete Divine Nature. That Human Nature was praying about what was going to come next.
He knew the sacrifice that was coming. He knew the physical pain that was about to happen. He knew the wrath and the separation of God that was on its way, just for him. He knew, as many commentators call it, “The horror of the cross.” He knew what was coming and his human nature did not want to go through it.
God, if there were any other way that we could accomplish what I came to accomplish. If there were any other way to atone for the sins of the chosen. If there were any other way to purchase forgiveness for those who have saving faith. Father, if there were any other way, please let this cup pass from me!
But Jesus, in his God Nature, knew the plan from the beginning, because he was part of the planning, as one third of the trinity, the persons, one God. As that, he knew there was no other way. He knew that what was more important than the wants of his human nature & will was Gods nature & will.
This is very easy for those of us who are Christians or have grown up in the church, learning this often, it can be easy to know this intellectually. That more important than our will and nature is Gods will & nature. But it can be so hard to apply, as we see here.
Our human nature & will are at war with Gods will and nature. They have been since in the first garden. Adam’s will overcame what he knew God wanted for Him. His Will “won.” And with sin now as a part of our nature, it has been at war with Gods nature & will ever since.
We know how God calls us to live.
We know what God calls us to do.
We want to do those things and, ideally, live that way.
But that often means stepping out of our comfort zone.
It may mean upsetting our family, telling them the truth.
It may mean losing friends, changing who we used to be.
It may mean offending others, refusing to go along with everyone else and keep the peace.
Instead, it’s a lot easier to convince ourselves that we are, in fact, being faithful to God without doing those things he has clearly told us to do. “I’m the exception.” “God knows my heart.” “If you knew my situation…” “He hasn’t called me to that…” “I’ve already done it so I might as well keep doing it…”
IF we truly desire and are committed to His will, it means not our will. It means we die to self. It means we live for his desires, not ours. If we truly desire it, he will help us.
It won’t look the same in every person or every circumstance, but he will help us.
We see in verse43 how he helped Jesus that night. This moment, which is only recorded in Luke’s Gospel, shows an angel coming down and strengthening Jesus, helping him to seek Gods will first, to help him, like he told the disciples in verse 40, “not enter into temptation.”
This angel giving him strength does not make it easy, it helps make it possible. How and when he helps us, it will not be to help make it easy, but to help us be strong enough to move forward and to make it possible.
We see, even after the angel comes down, Jesus is still in agony. Such agony that his sweat was like great drops of blood.
Now, two things. First, Jesus’ agony. Let’s be clear. The word itself, in the original Greek, Jonathon Edwards says, “implies no common degree of sorrow, but such extreme distress that his nature had a most violent conflict with it, as a man that wrestles with all his might with a strong man.”
So where is Jesus’ agony from or directed towards? The Puritan, Richard Baxter wrote, “His agony was not from the fear of death, but from the deep sense of Gods wrath against sin; which he as our sacrifice was to bear; in greater pain than mere dying.”
Of course, Jesus wasn’t afraid of dying, in and of itself. He knew what was on the other side. He also knew that it would not stick. But he knew what it was going to take. He knew what was in his cup. He knew the full wrath of God was going to be poured down on him and him alone.
He alone knew what that meant. We can hear that and think, ok, that’s not going to feel good, but we have no actual sense of what Gods wrath will be like. Jesus knew. And it was causing him agony.
To the point where Marks Gospel says his soul was very sorrowful, even to death. To the point where Jesus was sweat was like great drops of blood.
There is a real, documented medical condition where a human body can be under such extreme stress that the veins near the sweat glands burst and so the human body does in fact, literally sweat blood. That’s what it appears happened this neat to Jesus in the garden while praying to God.
The language is not crystal clear if it was this or that he was sweating in in a way that made the sweat thick and pouring out of him as blood would.
As Jesus was agonizing through his prayers, we see, especially in the other gospels, the disciples couldn’t stay awake. They couldn’t stay focused. They didn’t know what was at stake or what was going to happen. They couldn’t be bothered to pray as Jesus instructed because that was not their priority.
Verse 46, Jesus reiterates his command to them, pray to avoid temptation. Again, as I said earlier, we see Luke’s emphasis and focus are on Jesus and his prayer instead of the disciples and their failings.
But in that, in the glimpse of the disciples’ failures, combined with Jesus’ prayer and agony, we see so much. Jesus knew what was coming for him. And we have no idea. We get only glimpses of the wrath of God in scripture and in our lives.
Trust, no matter how bad it’s been, and some people have it incredibly bad, it is nothing compared to the wrath that Jesus willingly took and that awaits those who refused to turn to him in faith.
Jesus took the wrath, absorbed it all and do so because the love of God is all encompassing and love covers a multitude of sins. He willingly absorbed the full wrath of God so that those who believe, who may be called sons and daughters of God may be spared the wrath of God. He took the wrath we so justly and rightly deserved so that we may experience eternal communion with him and the forgiveness of our sins, past, present and future, once and for all.
Charles Spurgeon, preaching on this passage said this:
“Since it would not be possible for any believer, however experienced, to know for himself all that our Lord endured in mental suffering and hellish malice, it is clearly beyond the preacher’s capacity to set it forth to you. Jesus himself must give you access to the wonders of Gethsemane: as for me, I can but invite you to enter the garden.”
We can’t know what Jesus went through, not completely and not in any real sense. But its important to know, as much as we can. Because that’s the only way that we can truly know and appreciate everything that Jesus did.
As one commentator writes:
Its not just that Jesus died for me, but that he died this horrible, damnable, God-forsaken death that no one would ever want to die. He died this death because there was no other way for sinners to be saved, no easier road to redemption, no alternatives to the cross. Jesus thus volunteered to do what the Father willed, choosing to do the one thing that would bring the most suffering to his body and soul”
It is not that Jesus died for us. IT is not that we should feel bad for what he went through. It wasn’t that God was touched and moved by Jesus sacrifice that he magically decided, “Ok! Sins are done!” None of that. The garden is not a prescription to pray harder and want it bad enough and God will send an angel to strengthen us.
I’m going to finish with a quote on this passage from Phillip Ryken:
This must always be the main lesson we learn whenever we go to the Garden of Gethsemane. Luke does not show us the agony of Jesus to arouse our pity, primarily, or simply to remind us of our Savior’s humanity, but to help us see the love that Jesus has in dying for our sins. We will never have to suffer what our Savior suffered in Gethsemane, or at Calvary, for the very reason that everything he suffered there was in our place, on our behalf. The first response we make to Jesus should always be faith in the saving work he did in suffering and dying as our substitute. The lesson of Gethsemane in not that Jesus suffers with us, but that he suffered for us!
I lied; I’m actually going to finish with Romans 5:8-11. Paul writes:
but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.