The Final Week: Gethsemane

You can watch this week’s sermon right here.

This week we continued our study of Jesus’ final week by looking at what happened in the Garden of Gethsemane.

What hit me most are some of the powerful images from that difficult night.

For example, in his video about the path to the cross, Ray VanderLaan talks about the meaning of Gethsemane in Hebrew. It’s a combination of the words, “gat” and “shemanim.” Gat means a place for pressing oil and “shemanim” means oils. It is likely that the Garden of Gethsemane was an olive grove that contained an olive press where olive oil was produced. These olive presses used tons of weight from large stones to press the rest of the oil out of already crushed olives. The weight of these presses would drain all the oil from the olives, leaving them dry. (You can watch this video on RightNow Media for free. Just search “The Path to the Cross” and watch the session, “The Fifth Cup: Our Way of Hope.”)

This place of intense pressure is where Jesus goes to grapple with the task that lies ahead of Him. The weight of God’s wrath that is about to be poured out on Him is almost too much to bear.

Pastor Shawn mentioned that Jesus and His disciples passed through the Kidron Valley to get to Gethsemane. As he pointed out, this is where the waste of the city went, along with the blood from the thousands upon thousands of lambs that were sacrificed for the Passover. What a powerful image — the ultimate Passover Lamb wading through the blood of those sacrifices. It reminded me of God’s covenant with Abram in Genesis 15 — when He passes through the blood of the sacrifice, promising that if Abram and his descendants are not blameless, He will die in their place.

I was also struck by the concept of the cup of God’s wrath — the cup that Jesus begged to have taken away from Him. This cup is mentioned throughout Scripture — the wrath of God resulting from sin. This wrath is poured out as a means of justice — a way of punishing what is wrong in the world. As Pastor Shawn pointed out yesterday, we ultimately want justice. When we hear of atrocities around the world, we want those who are guilty to be punished. The thing to remember is that it’s not just those who are “evil” who deserve punishment. The Bible says that all of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. You and I are just as guilty and deserving of wrath as anyone else. And because of sin — our sin — God’s wrath needs to be poured out for the sake of justice. And we see that God does bring justice — through Jesus. Jesus takes our place. He drinks the cup of God’s wrath so that we don’t have to. This is what Jesus is struggling with in the Garden of Gethsemane — He knows that He’s about to drink from this cup, voluntarily, for our sake. He will be crushed for our iniquities.

I appreciated Pastor Shawn’s point about obedience. That we will be able to obey God in difficult circumstances only if we’ve practiced obeying and surrendering to Him in the ordinary circumstances. It is when we’ve worked to build and strengthen that relationship that it will be strong enough to make it through the hard times. This is what Jesus had with the Father — and it gave Him the strength to continue on with His mission.

As we ponder Gethsemane this week and prepare our hearts for the coming Easter week, let’s think on these questions together:

  • What stood out to you most in the sermon this week?
  • Where do you need to work at strengthening your relationship with God?
  • When is a time you experienced God’s faithfulness in a difficult time?

 

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