RESURGAM 2020 - The 14 Stations of the Cross
First Station: Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane
Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." He took along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee and began to feel sorrow and distress. Then he said to them, "My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch with me." He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will." When he returned to his disciples, he found them asleep. He said to Peter, "So you could not keep watch with me for one hour? Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." (Matthew 26:36-41)
The story of the Passion of Jesus is so well known to us, it is so familiar. It is the subject of hundreds of hymns and songs, the focus of thousands of books and messages. Yet whenever we return to meditate upon it, the Holy Spirit breathes upon the words and we are captured again by the eternal beauty of Jesus, the spotless Lamb of God, giving up His life for the Salvation of the World. We are shocked at the brutality of His torture and death and then overwhelmed by the intense magnitude of His Resurrection, gripped by its implications. Throughout, we realize that the death and resurrection of Jesus are not events confined to a time and place in the Middle East in AD 30, but are incidents that echo throughout the corridors of time and space. Planned from before creation, these events provide for the cleansing of sin and the eradication of the effects of the curse upon all created things.
Each step along this journey requires us to stop and think …. And pray. We need to focus on Jesus, that is where the “treasure” lies. The events are merely supporting characters in this drama. The more we focus on Jesus the more we will see, the more the Holy Spirit will be moved to reveal that which is hidden. Coal can be found on the surface, diamonds (which are the same material, yet infinitely more desirable), are found much deeper.
The Passion begins in the Upper Room during the Passover meal as Jesus takes the bread and the wine. Jesus breaks the bread, shares it between them and likewise the cup and declares His coming death, proclaiming that His Body will be broken, and blood spilled in order to bring about God’s salvation rescue plan.
From this intimate place, Jesus leads his friends to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray.
As we focus upon Jesus we are immediately moved at the intensity of His struggle. This is the last act before the final curtain and Jesus is almost completely overwhelmed. Luke tells us that “He is in agony”. This is what I want you to see. Jesus did not go to Gethsemane just to pray for strength to go through the next days. He was in warfare, inside and out and crushed by the weight of what He was carrying. Internally He struggled to come to terms with what He knew He was about to suffer, externally He was battling an intense onslaught from Satan and his demonic forces. If that was not enough, the weight of sin and sickness that He was called to bear was beginning to crush Him.
Mat 26:38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” This verse shows that Jesus was so crushed that he almost died there in Gethsemane. We call to mind the Prophesy of the Suffering Servant in Isa 53 "he … carried our sorrows" (v4); "he was crushed for our iniquities" (v5); "The LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all" (v6); "he was oppressed and afflicted" (v7); "it was the LORD's will to crush him" (v10);
Jesus prayed to His Father and asked that this “cup” be taken from Him “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me” (Matthew 26:39) This is the first of 3 prayers that Jesus prayed. In this first prayer, He asks God to deliver Him from the intensity of this struggle. Hebrews 5:7 says, “Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.” These “loud cries and tears” describe the deep agony of Jesus. So great was the struggle that blood copiously mixed with sweat and flowed through His pores, “Being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” Luke 22:44
Hebrews tells us that the Father heard Jesus in His agony. There was no deliverance, this was the unfolding of God's eternal master plan, instead, there was the release of Divine strength through an Angel. Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him Luke 22:43 Here there is the great transformation of Grace. Many times, God chooses not to deliver us out of the circumstances, instead, He supplies the strength to go through them and overcome them. We long for escape, but God says, there is a path of greater Glory here, “Blessed are the overcomers” John states in the Book of Revelation. Prayer always changes things, many times though .... the change takes place within.
From this point on Jesus stopped praying for the removal of the cup. His second and third prayers repeat a different request. “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done” Matthew 26:42. Here is the mighty overcomer, standing in who He knows Himself to be, overcoming the internal trauma, hurling aside demonic assailants, smashing their barricades of fear, shouldering His burden. The Lamb is revealed as the Lion.
Having navigated the intensity of struggles inside and out, Jesus rises to embrace the road ahead.
There is one final comment to make here. Something transformed Jesus in the Garden, a vision, a picture. Hebrews 12:2 reveals it. “ Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith, who for the joy [of accomplishing the goal] set before Him endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (AMP) The joy, the goal was you, the goal was me. At that moment when the Angel came I think Jesus saw us and said, “It’s worth it”.
Jesus ……. “thank you!”