In The Garden
IN THE GARDEN
This is a picture of the garden of Gethsemane as it looks today.
When Jesus went into the garden He only took 3 of His disciples with Him.
- The other 8 were not allowed to go.
Anita tells me that it is a beautiful garden…and it may be that its beauty is enhanced by the fact that it is also a battlefield.
- You see, the most significant spiritual battle in the history of mankind was fought in this garden…and as a result, this garden is the place where the greatest of all victories was won.
Today, in our study, Matthew is going to take us into this garden.
- And as we go into God is going to teach us once again about what it means to be a disciple.
- And for some, God is going to test your heart.
- He is going to see if you have a heart that is grateful…and thankful…or one that has no gratitude.
- He is going to see if you have a heart that appreciates what God has done for
you…or one that is indifferent.
- He is going to see if you have a heart that recognizes just how much you owe.
- Or one that is blind to the debt you owe.
- He is going to see if you have a heart that recognizes love in its full expression.
- Or one that is blind and perhaps hardened to the love that has been manifested
He is going to test your heart because you are going to see the Son of God bowed low.
- And if you leave today unfazed, then I am not sure that you will have gotten the
- Or that you have the kind of heart that is characteristic of kingdom people.
Let’s begin in verse 36.
In verse 36 Jesus and His disciples come to Gethsemane.
- And Jesus tells His disciples to “Sit here while I go over there and pray.”
- And He takes Peter, and the two sons of Zebedee or James and John with Him, and I want you to notice what it says in verse 37-38.
It says that, “He began to be grieved and distressed.”
- And in verse 38, Jesus says that He was “deeply grieved to the point of death.”
It is so easy for us to just say these words and go on and miss the whole impact of how Jesus is feeling.
Do you see the word “grieved” in vs. 37?
- That word means to “to be sorrow-filled; to be in heaviness of sorrow.”
And the word “distressed” literally means to “be heavy.” Burdened down”
And the phrase in vs. 38, “deeply grieved in His soul to the point of death” literally means He was “surrounded by sorrow.”
And some of you have felt that and seen that.
I have had times when I have had to tell someone that their mate…or their child has died.
- And when they receive that word a sudden “horror” strikes them.
- And weakness comes on them.
- And they are crushed.
- And their legs buckle and they fall under the blow.
- And they are so grief stricken that they feel as though they will die also.
That is much of what Jesus is feeling here because look at verse 39.
- He tells His disciples to “stay behind” and then He goes a little “beyond them”…and “He falls
on His face to the ground.”
- “And He begins to pray that if it were possible, that this cup might pass from Him.”
Why? Why is Jesus so grief stricken? Why is He feeling so crushed…so heavily burdened?
Well, look at verse 39. He says, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as Thou wilt.” All things are possible for Thee, remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what Thou wilt.”
Do you see the word “cup?”
- “Cup” here is a metaphor for what Jesus is about to endure.
- And if you go back to Psalm 11:6 and Psalm 75:8, and Isaiah 51:17, and several
other passages, you find that the “cup” is used in reference to God when He spills
out His anger and wrath, and judgment on sin and
And what you need to understand here is, Jesus is not burdened down with grief and pleading with God just because He is about to die.
He is burdened with grief and full of sorrow because He is soon to feel the wrath of a sin
- 2 Corinthians 5:21 says that God, “made Him who had no sin to be sin for us so
that we might become the righteousness of God.”
- In just a few short hours Jesus is going to experience the full force of God’s wrath against sin.
Did you know that this is where Jesus comes under a lot of criticism from Antichristian critics?
- They criticize Jesus here for the way that He is facing death.
- They scoff and they say, “He is no brave man!”
- “A lot of martyrs died for what they believed. . .and they died bravely. “
- “And here you have Jesus whimpering, on His knees begging to avoid death. “
What they fail to understand is, Jesus is facing more than just death.
- He is facing the full wrath of God because of sin!
And that isn’t all.
- Jesus has lived His life wholly for God and in fellowship with God.
- And now, He is facing being alienated from God!
- An alienation which comes when God judges sin.
And understand this… because this is where the test of your heart comes in.
- He is going to experience all of this…the wrath of God and the alienation from ..for sin He didn’t commit!
That is why He is grieving!
This is His dread!
And so He falls down and prays.
- But not with whispers and whimpers.
- The Hebrew writer in chapter 5:7 says that it was with “loud crying and tears” that
He pleaded with God.
He raised His voice, He clinched His fists and He cried out, “If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me.”
But then He says, “Yet not as I will, but as Thou wilt.”
- You see, He had a choice.
- He had a choice. . . He could have chosen to say, “This is not what I want and this
is not what I am going to do!”
- “I don’t want to go through all of this so I am not going to die for the sins of the
- But He doesn’t do that. Instead He says, “Thy will be done O God.”
Many believe that the cross was the critical moment in Jesus’ life in terms of His struggle to obey God’s will.
- But I don’t believe that is true.
- Here in the garden is where the struggle takes place.
- This is where the war is going on.
- When He went to the cross He had already made His decision to obey God.
- Here is where He submitted to the will of God.
Here is where the tough decision was made.
When God made man and called him Adam, He put him in a garden, and He didn’t ask much.
- Simply, “Honor Me and don’t eat the fruit of the tree.”
- And that was too much for Adam.
But here, outside of Jerusalem, the second Adam is in a second garden, and, oh my, what God asks of Him.
- God asks this second Adam to surrender His will… His will to live.
- And to do it for sins He didn’t even commit.
- If you think it was easy, then you do not understand why 3 times He prayed.
Here is where the battle took place…and thanks be to Christ that because He submitted
to the will of the Father… We won!
Jesus prays, “Yet, not as I will, but as Thou wilt,” and He gets up and He goes and finds his disciples sleeping.
- And He tells them in vs. 41 that they must “Keep watching and praying, that they may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Understand what He is saying here.
- It is so easy to fall into temptation… because the “spirit it willing, but the flesh is
- The “spirit” doesn’t want to give in to that temptation.
- But not so with the flesh.
- And so the only way to keep from falling into some temptation is to constantly be
on guard to that possibility.
- To constantly be watching for and ready to recognize temptation for what it is.
- And fortifying the spirit through prayer.
Prayer is so important because it constantly reminds you of God…and His will…and His purpose for you…and His power and His strength…
- And any time you are reminded God, you are reminded of His holiness and the
dangers of sin.
- And those reminders strengthen the spirit and give you more resolve to withstand
giving in to that sin.
Prayer is so important for keeping the spirit strong.
Jesus tells His disciples to “Keep watching and praying”, and then He goes back and again He asks God to remove the cup from Him…and He agonizes again with the fact that He will soon face the wrath of God and be alienated from Him.
- And then He comes back and finds His disciples asleep again.
And then for a third time He asks God to remove the cup…and again He tells God, “Yet not my will but thine.”
- And a third time He comes back and finds the disciples asleep.
But now don’t miss what happens in verse 45.
- Jesus comes and finds His disciples asleep and He says, “Are you still sleeping?”
But then He says, “Behold, the hour is at hand; and, the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. Arise, let us be going; behold, the one who betrays Me is at hand.”
Don’t miss the calmness and the courage of those words.
- Don’t miss the acceptance of the will of God.. .that Jesus should die for sins He
The cup is not removed from Jesus…instead He accepts the will of the Father.
- And notice, Jesus doesn’t run from His betrayer.
- Instead He readily awaits Him.
You see, the real battle was won before the swords and clubs even showed up.
- Jesus has agreed to die for you and me.
And that fact puts you to the test. Turn to Hebrews 12:28.
- Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us
show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with
reverence and awe; 29 for our God is a consuming fire.
Do you know what this verse says?
- This verse says that we are to be “grateful” for what God has given us.
- For what God has done for us.
The word “gratitude” speaks of that which the heart feels because of what God has done.
- We are to be so “thankful and appreciative” for Christ and His willingness to die for us…that we in turn “worship and honor God” if full reverence and sincerity.
- And if we aren’t grateful.. .well, the Hebrew writer reminds us that “God is a consuming “
So what you find is, your response to what Jesus did in that garden when He willingly agreed to die on the cross for your sins…your response to His actions that night…is a pretty good indication of the kind of heart you have?
- So the question is, what kind of heart do you have?
- Is it one of gratitude or ingratitude?
- Is it one of “thankfulness” or one of “un-thankfulness.”
- Is it one that recognizes just how much you owe…or is it one that is blind to what
- And that is important, because it will be life or fire, depending on what kind of
heart you have.
One more quick point and the lesson is yours.
Today we read of the second of two significant gardens mentioned in the Bible.
And your relationship with God is summed up in the two gardens.
- In one garden He put one Adam…our earthly father.
- And in that garden Adam was given a will to obey and he said, “No, I think I would
rather do what I want to do.”
And in the second garden there is a second Adam, your spiritual brother.
- And He was given a will to obey and He said, “I wish I could escape this will but it is
more important to me to obey God than to do things my way.”
And I suggest to you that your relationship with God and your future with God depends on which garden and which Adam you follow.
- Whether you obey His will…or your own.
- All the paths there are or ever will be go somewhere through a garden…and you will
show your true colors by what you decide there.
Jesus died to self and surrendered to the will of God….and because He did salvation is available to all.
But the only way you can be a partaker of that salvation is to do the same…you too must die to yourself…and surrender to the will of God. Will you do that today?
© Sunset Ridge Church of Christ 2023