The Garden and the Cross

By: Rev. Emily Armstrong

As Jesus walks to the cross, he has taught us lessons on hospitality, humility, sacrifice, and the new covenant. In his last moments on earth, Jesus begins to use a very clear vocabulary with his disciples, proving that Jesus knows exactly how he is going to spend the next few hours.

In Matthew 26:31, what is Jesus’ statement? _____________________________________

Jesus knows that he will spend the next stage of the mission alone, without friends, and without support. Have you ever felt abandoned? Even without a friend and without support, Jesus continues to walk the Via Dolorosa – that is why He came.

In Matthew 24:36 and Mark 14:32 we find the name of the Garden. What’s it called? ________ ________________________________________________________________________

Luke 22:39 gives us a slightly different location, what is it called? ________________________ ________________________________________________________________________

The Garden of Gethsemane is located at the foot of the Mount of Olives.

Let’s stay with Luke for a while, because he gives us a perspective into the RHYTHM of Jesus and his disciples. He says (22:39), “Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives…” During his time on earth, Jesus determined a specific place where he would go to meet with his Father, and he did so often. That fact is important, because it’s why Judas knew where to meet Jesus – the custom of Jesus going to THIS place was known to others.

  • Do you have a designated secluded place where you meet with God? Is going there such a frequent custom that other people readily know that rhythm? If the answer is “no”, take a few minutes right now to think of a place and a time each day that could help establish your rhythm of meeting with God.

My place: _________________________________________________

My Time with God: _________________________________________

  • Keep your Bible open to Matthew 26:36-46. in v. 37, what are the emotions that Jesus begins to have?

Since we started walking with Jesus towards Jerusalem, towards the cross, this is the first time we see these emotions. Now, being the sacrifice for all humanity is not only a plan, but it has also become the present. These emotions of sadness and anguish are not bad – they are emotions from God.

  • Think about that again. God feels sadness. God feels anguish. Does that provoke any emotion in you?

What is Jesus’ response to these emotions? PRAY. And his prayer is that the Father would change the plan if possible. Jesus asks God to change the plan. AT THE SAME TIME, he makes a very important statement.

  • What is the statement in v. 39?

“My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet, not as ____ _____, but as ______ _______.”

This statement is not a “just in case” statement. We tend to read his prayer like this: “Father, this is what I ask for, but just in case you don’t agree, do what you need to do.” But that’s not the prayer – the prayer of Jesus is that WHAT I WANT WOULD NOT BE DONE.

Jesus leaves his prayer time and confronts his sleeping disciples; abandonment is already becoming a reality.

  • What is the mini sermon that Jesus offers his disciples at that moment? (v. 41) ___________________________________________________________________

Jesus can preach that sermon because it is his very reality. He himself is praying that he would not fall into temptation. He himself can feel that his spirit is willing, but his body is weak.

Jesus is still struggling with his Father’s mission – and he comes back to pray. His words are almost the same as before. Jesus is asking for his heart to be aligned once again with the perfect will of the Father. He needs the strength to drink the bitter drink, and he makes a strong statement at the end of v. 42: “Your will be done.”

Jesus returns once more to the sleeping disciples, and what does he do? He goes back to pray a third time. The battle is waging, and Jesus is fighting. The Father is aligning the will of Jesus with His perfect will, until Luke 22:43 says:

“An _____________ from heaven appeared to him and ________________.”

The lessons we can take away from the time that Jesus spent in the garden are many, but for our purposes, I want us to take away this lesson: following the will of God the Father is not always easy. If we are struggling with carrying on, our response should be a prayer for the Father to align our hearts with his again. And we must know that we don’t fight alone. Even when we feel that friends have abandoned us, God supports us.

We will end this lesson with some thoughts on Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. We cannot study Holy Week without analyzing his very sacrifice at Calvary.

Take time to read the story in the 4 gospels, writing down in a notebook anything that grabs your attention. Meditate on the story through four different perspectives. Do you like one author’s style better? Which details may seem small or are only found in one story? Which characteristics are found in all the gospels? Hours could be spent doing this exercise, but at least spend 10 minutes. Look for the new treasure that God has for you in his Word.

I want to highlight something important for all of us who are on the Via Dolorosa with Jesus. We come to Matthew 27:50-56.

  • Jesus GAVE UP his spirit. Jesus’ life was not taken from Him. Jesus, with firm purpose, followed the will of God the Father until he died on the cross. It was HIS decision, and he gave himself up.
  • Tombs were opened, and many saints who had died were raised to life. Jesus has not even been dead ONE MINUTE, and already the blood of Christ is defeating death. Hallelujah!
  • Many women who had followed Jesus were there, looking from afar. Who did not abandon Jesus? Women. If you are a woman reading this, let’s cherish their example and be faithful followers like them.

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