If you follow Jesus, you will eventually discover yourself at a crossroads. There will be tension and conflict between your will and God’s will. Your will and God’s will may outright oppose each other. God wants you to do this, but you want to do something completely different. On the other hand, you may find that you both have the same mission and goal in mind, but God wants you to go about it one way and you want to accomplish another way.
When your will and God’s will don’t line up, for whatever reason, that is when you find yourself in a Gethsemane moment.
Gethsemane Moment Defined
Today, we are going to continue our examination of your Gethsemane moment. A Gethsemane moment is a time when you are tempted to avoid doing what God wants you to do because you know that doing it will cost you dearly and hurt you deeply. You are not going to want to do it, but you know God wants you to do it. You know it’s the right thing to do and the right way to do it, but it will come at great sacrifice on your part. Your Gethsemane involves a battle between your willing spirit to do what is right and your weaknesses to do what is easy.
Let me set the stage. Jesus took His disciples to an olive grove called Gethsemane. Most of His disciples were told to wait at the entrance of Gethsemane. However, Jesus took three of them (Peter, James, and John) deeper into the grove. Jesus becomes deeply troubled and distressed. He told the three that His soul was “crushed with grief to the point of death.” He then says, “Stay here and keep watch with me.” Then Jesus walks about 50 feet away and fell to the ground. “He prayed that if it were possible, the awful hour awaiting him might pass him by.” After about an hour, Jesus returns to the disciples and finds them sleeping. Jesus says to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak” (see Mark 14:32-38). We have already looked at all that in detail. This brings us to verse 39.
Then Jesus left them again and prayed the same prayer as before. 40 When he returned to them again, he found them sleeping, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open. And they didn’t know what to say. 41 When he returned to them the third time, he said, “Go ahead and sleep. Have your rest. But no—the time has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Up, let’s be going. Look, my betrayer is here!” (Mark 14:39-42, NLT)
The principles we are going to be learning are truths that help you to understand your Gethsemane moment. Those times when you know God’s will, but you don’t want to do it. There are five biblical principles you need to be aware of in regards to your Gethsemane. We have already looked at two, let’s review and then take a good look at another one.
You will experience denial
The first lesson: you will experience denial. In your Gethsemane moment, your prayer of faith will be answered with a no. In verses 38-40, we see Jesus praying the same prayer three times. Perfect Jesus is praying in perfect faith with a perfect prayer with a perfect relationship with the Heavenly Father. Jesus is asking the Heavenly Father to remove the cup of suffering from Him that He is about to face. The Heavenly Father tells Jesus no.
One of the things we learn from this is that praying in faith is not about getting what you want, but wanting what God wants. When you pray in faith, you should be moved to obey in faith. Your prayer of faith will sometimes be answered with a “no.” We took a hard look at that a couple of weeks ago.
You will experience loneliness
The second lesson: you will experience loneliness. In your Gethsemane, you will feel alone, even though you are not. God has said no to your prayer about removing your suffering, and it appears that those closest to you don’t care, but they actually do; they are unbale to express their concern due to their own weaknesses.
During Jesus’ time of agony in Gethsemane His three closest disciples and friends could not stay awake for Him. There were no prayers from them. No words of encouragement from them. No questions of concern or compassion from them. When Jesus woke them up and asked about them sleeping rather than praying, they didn’t know what to say. He knew they cared but couldn’t or was unable to express their concern due to their own weaknesses. That’s what Jesus meant when He told them, Your spirit is willing, but your body is weak.
During your Gethsemane, you are going to find that the people you expected to be there for you, are not. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t care. The bottom line is you are going to feel alone, but you are really not. We looked at this closely last time. This brings us to our third observation.
You will experience compassion
Number three, you will experience compassion. Remember, in your Gethsemane you will feel alone, but you will not be alone. When you are in your most difficult and darkest times of your life and you are seeking God’s guidance and help, He may tell you no, but He will not abandon you. He will show compassion. He will give you strength and He will supernaturally minister to you during that time. Let me show you.
Something significant happens during Jesus’ Gethsemane moment. Mark does not comment on this, but Luke does. In Luke 22 we are told, He walked away, about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him. (vs. 41-43, NLT). Let’s focus in on that last sentence. From that one sentence there are four things you need to know and remember about God when you are in your Gethsemane.
God is an on-time God
Number one, your God is an on-time God. He may not show up on your-time, but He will show up on-time. He may not show up when you want Him to, but He will show up when you need Him to.
Jesus has been praying. It’s intense. It’s deep. Jesus is agonizing over what is about to take place. He is about to receive all of man’s sin on Himself and He is about to receive all of God’s wrath for our sin. He is about to drink a major cup of suffering. Remember, this is so intense that Jesus is sweating great drops of blood. He prays and checks on the disciples, then prays again and checks on the disciples again. This goes on for about three hours.
Somewhere in all this Luke tells us, Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him. Jesus is praying and agonizing over this cup of suffering. He wants it removed. Is there another way? He does not want to drink this cup of suffering, Jesus wants the suffering removed. His heavenly Father has told Him no. His closest friends have fallen asleep rather than watching and praying with Him through this. He is experiencing denial from the Heavenly Father and He is experiencing loneliness because of the weaknesses of the disciples. It’s at that moment when the “then” moment occurs; “then” an angel from heaven shows up. The angel did not show up at the beginning of Jesus’ Gethsemane moment, but somewhere deep into His Gethsemane. That’s important to know.
I’m convinced that some believers when they enter their Gethsemane they pray and if they don’t get what they want quickly they leave. If God doesn’t say yes quickly enough, they are out. If other believers don’t show up in support soon enough, they are out. They quit on God and they quit on other believers and they walk out of their Gethsemane determined do it their way. They never get to the “then” moment.
For some of us, we quit too early. We don’t get to the “then.” We walk away before the “then.” We stop praying before the “then” moment. The “then” moment is when God shows up. We don’t hang around in our Gethsemane long enough to allow God to show up.
God is an on-time God. God will allow you to get to the point where you need Him desperately. You need His help. God’s timing is always the best timing. You are hurting. You are agonizing over something. You pray about it. God says no. You ask God to remove the suffering. He says no. You pray again for God to take away the pain. He says no again. The people you thought would be there for you, are not there. You feel like God does not care nor do His people care. You are thinking about giving up on God and quitting on God’s people and “then” God does something that changes everything for you. But many of us don’t get to the “then.” The “then” moment does not happen at the beginning of your pain, but somewhere deep in your pain. So, persevere. Don’t give up. God has a “then” moment ahead of you, but its deeper into your Gethsemane. God is an on-time God and He will be on-time. He will show compassion.
God is a caring God
Number two, God is a caring God. In your Gethsemane, God will demonstrate His love and compassion. Luke tells us that during Jesus’ Gethsemane an angel from heaven shows up.
Remember, Jesus is wrestling with doing His own will versus doing God’s will. How did God strengthen Jesus to do His will? God sent an angel from heaven. The word angel (angelos) means messenger. In the Bible, an angel can refer to two things.
- It can refer to a supernatural being from heaven that we call angels. The kind of angels that showed up at Jesus’ birth, in Joseph’s dream, at the resurrection of Jesus, and other places throughout the Bible. These supernatural angels deliver a message from God. In Jesus’ case God sent an angel.
- It can also refer to a human messenger (Job 1:14; Isaiah 42:19; Malachi 2:7; Rev. 1:20). It’s that person God sends to you to strengthen you, comfort you, and help you to endure and go through whatever it is God needs you to go through.
As you follow Jesus, God will do the same thing for you. In your Gethsemane, God will send an angel, a messenger, to strengthen you. Whether that angel is a supernatural being or a human being, I will leave that up to God. But in some way, your angel and your messenger will show up during your Gethsemane and you will be comforted, strengthened and invigorated to do the difficult thing God has called you to do. God says in Isaiah 41:10, “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (NASB 95).
One of the jobs of angels is to minister to God’s people. Hebrews 1:14 tells us, “Angels are only servants – spirits sent to care for people who will inherit salvation” (NLT). There are going to be times in your life when God will tell you no, but He will send one of His angels to strengthen you and comfort you so you can accept that answer and do what God would have you to do. That angel will be “sent to care for” you during your Gethsemane.
Hebrews 13:2 says, “Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!” (NLT). God’s Word is telling you that there are individuals who come in and out of your life who are angels, and you don’t realize it. It’s those individuals who you have a random conversation with that encourages you, strengthens you, and comforts you and sets you in the right direction mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Sometimes I think these angels show up in your life for 1, 2, 3 or for 4 months and then they are gone. They were sent to care for you, to encourage you, and to build you up for you to do what God would have you to do, when you didn’t want to do it.
Evey life has its Gethsemane, and every Gethsemane has its angel.
Every life has its Gethsemane, and every Gethsemane has its angel. When God tells you no, you are going to experience denial and rejection. When the people closest to you are not there for you because of their own weaknesses you are going to feel alone. However, the reality is, you are not abandoned by God, and you are not alone because God has sent an angel to you, in some form, to care for you and to strengthen you. God is a caring God, even in the middle of your Gethsemane. God will show you compassion.
God is a present God
Number three, God is a present God. Whether we are aware of it or not, God is always there. Whether we feel His presence or not, God is always there. He is omnipresent. With that in mind look closely at what Luke says once again, “Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him.”
The word appeared is very interesting to me because it tells me something extremely significant. During Jesus’ Gethsemane moment, the angel didn’t arrive, but appeared. This tells me the angel had always been there waiting for the command to intervene. As a follower of Jesus, you are never alone. You are never abandoned by God. God is an on-time God. God is a caring God. God is a present God. God is always there in some way. You just don’t see Him, until He reveals Himself.
When you are in your Gethsemane and it feels like God is nowhere to be found, rest assure and trust that your omnipresent God is walking with you while you learn, while you grow allowing you to deepen your thoughts, mature your emotions, and settle your will into His will (see Psalm 139:5, 7-12; Deut. 31:8; Matt. 28:20).
God is a an enabling God
Number four, God is an enabling God. God is going to equip, prepare, and provide whatever it is you need in order for you to do whatever it is God wants you to do. When you are in your Gethsemane moment and you say, “Not my will, but your will be done” God will enable and equip you with what you need to do His will.
Look again at what Luke tells us, “Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him.” The angel was sent to do one thing, strengthen Jesus. To strengthen (enischuo) means to be invigorated, to become strong and to regain one’s strength. We are not told how the angel did this for Jesus, but all we know is He did it. Jesus was exhausted. He had been up all day and all night. He was emotionally drained from the intense praying. He had already lost blood from sweating great drops of blood. He was worn out, fatigued, and drained. He needed help. He needed strengthening. He needed comfort. So, what does God do? He sends an angel.
My question is, strengthening Jesus to do what? What does Jesus need strength to do? Jesus had asked the Heavenly Father to remove the cup of suffering that He was about to drink. The Heavenly Father told Jesus no. He would not take the cup from Jesus. However, God would strengthen Jesus to enable Him to drink that cup.
Even though God told Jesus no, God sent an angel to comfort and strengthen Jesus so He could drink and endure the suffering that was in front of Him. God will do the same for you. When you are in your Gethsemane moment, He will provide the strength and comfort and help you need to walk through your valley, to drink your cup of suffering, and to do His will regardless of how difficult it will be.
If you are in a Gethsemane and God wants you to do something that you know is going to be difficult and it will take sacrifice on your part to do it, but you don’t want to do it but you know it has to be done God’s way. At just the right time God will show up in some way, strengthen you, encourage you, and invigorate you to do His will His way. Don’t abandon your Gethsemane, embrace it. Stay faithful. Endure to the end.