If you follow Jesus, you will eventually discover yourself at a fork in the road. You will have a choice in front of you. Choose God’s will or your will. There are times where God’s will is easy to do and fun to do. However, there are those key moments in your life where God’s will is difficult, it will hurt, and to do God’s will cost you. At that moment, you may be in your Gethsemane.
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)
Jesus had His own Gethsemane. If you follow Jesus, you will experience your own Gethsemane. 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 regard to your Gethsemane. We have already looked at four, let’s review and then take a good look at the last 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 several 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 (you may feel rejected by God or unloved by God), 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 in great detail a few weeks ago.
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). From that one sentence we see that God is an on-time God, He is a caring God, a present God, and an enabling God. He is and does all those things because He is a compassionate God. The word angel means messenger. An angel can be a supernatural being or an angel can be a human being that God sends into your life to encourage you and help guide you. Either way, God is going to show you compassion during your Gethsemane. Again, we looked at all of that a couple of weeks ago.
You will experience betrayal
Number four, you will experience betrayal. Your Gethsemane is going to hurt. When you are in your Gethsemane you will be betrayed by someone. This betrayal can show up in a variety of ways and with different levels of intensity. They may deceive you, be disloyal to you, or let you down in some way. During your Gethsemane season you feel the pain of betrayal. This is what happened to Jesus in verse 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.”[i] From this we saw a few lessons about betrayal we need to be aware of as we follow Jesus through our own Gethsemane. We learned that we can betray people by not being prepared, you should confront betrayal head on, when you are betrayed it has severe consequences for you, and God does not waste betrayal. He can and will use the betrayals in your life to accomplish His mission and goal for your life. We unpacked all that two weeks ago.
You will experience resolve
Number five, you will experience resolve. When you resolve something, you have firmly decided on a course of action. You know what to do and you are going to do it. The issue you have been struggling with is now settled. In Jesus’ Gethsemane you see this. You see Jesus praying and struggling about the cup of suffering that has been placed before Him. He is asking His Heavenly Father, “If there is any other way this can be done, let’s do it that way.” You are watching Jesus battle between His will and His Heavenly Father’s will. But somewhere in all that He settles the issue. He comes to a resolve and says, “Not my will, but your will be done.” We see this resolve put into action in verse 42 where Jesus says to His disciples, Up, let’s be going. Look, my betrayer is here!
In that one little statement by Jesus, we see four lessons about settling the issue between your will and God’s will. We see four lessons about resolving that impact our spiritual walk with God.
Resolve to act
Number one, we see a resolve to act. To resolve something means you have decided to do something.
Jesus told His disciples, “Up, let’s be going” which echoes the first words Jesus spoke to them when He said, “Come, follow me!” (1:17). This also recalls the words he spoke to them in Galilee, “Let us go…. This is why I have come” (1:38). To follow God’s will is to be on the move with God’s will: get up, let’s be going; follow me; Let us go. Once you resolve an issue with God, you are going to do something with it. There is going to be action. You are going to start praying more, you are going to share the gospel, you are going to break up with that person who is pulling you away from God, you are going to start giving, you are going to start reading that Bible, you are going to start something and stop something.
In the gospel of Mark, the last words Jesus says to His disciples until after His resurrection are “Up, let’s be going,” but they will hear a similar command again after his resurrection when Jesus says, “go and make disciples” (Matt. 28:18-20). When you are following Jesus there is going to be this feeling that you are on the move and on the go all the time. Following Jesus is to move forward in your ministry and in your spiritual growth.
Here’s a thought. If you feel stagnate in your walk with God and in your spiritual growth, its probably because you have stopped following Him and listening to Him. You are doing your will and not His.
One more thing. Jesus’ command to get up tells us the disciples were still laying on the ground. Jesus ordered His men to get up from their sleep so they could witness firsthand His betrayal, mistreatment, injustice, death, burial, and resurrection. There were still many lessons to be learned.
- There are many believers who get saved and then go to sleep. They don’t grow. They get spiritually lazy.
- Some believers serve and serve and get burned out and worn out and become exhausted and quit and lay down spiritually.
- Some believers get beat up by the world and the devil and are knocked down.
Regardless of why you are laying down, Jesus says, “Up, let’s be going.” There is something Jesus wants you to see, something He wants you to do, or something He wants you to learn. This takes us to our next observation.
Resolve to learn
In your Gethsemane, not only will there be a resolve to act, but also a resolve to learn. After Jesus says, “Up, let’s be going,” He then says, Look. But let’s stop there. The word look (idou) is not an ordinary word. It means to pause and look deeply at something for the purpose of understanding and significance. It is often translated as “behold.” As when John the Baptist introduced Jesus by saying, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” When you see this word in the Bible it is like a bill-board trying to get your attention or God taking a divine highlighter and highlighting this statement.
If you look closely, you will see and learn some things about Jesus that will impress you and you will learn some things about life that will prepare you. If you have been paying close attention through this series on your Gethsemane, then you have learned a lot about Jesus and learn a lot about you.
Jesus says, Look, my betrayer is here! Jesus knew Judas, the Sanhedrin, and the Roman guard (up to 600 soldiers) were about there because He could probably see them and hear them approaching with their lanterns flickering in the distance and from the noise of their armor. John tells us “The leading priests and Pharisees had given Judas a contingent of Roman soldiers and Temple guards to accompany him. Now with blazing torches, lanterns, and weapons, they arrived at the olive grove” (John 18:3, NLT). Picture the blazing torches, lanterns, and the clanking of the Roman soldiers’ weapons and armor as they moved quickly to and through the garden to arrest Jesus. Some major stuff was about to go down and this takes us to our third observation.
Resolve to obey
In your Gethsemane, you will resolve to act, resolve to learn, and resolve to obey. Mark tells us at this point Jesus could see Judas approaching in the distance at the bottom of the Mount of Olives. Rather than running from His betrayer and all that would follow, Jesus firmly and without doubt embraced it all. Even though to do the Heavenly Father’s will was going to be painful, Jesus would do it right. At this point, you don’t see Jesus making a decision, you see Him resolved to do the decision.
In this final statement you don’t sense or see or hear any anxiety, fear, or doubt. He had dealt with the grief of facing His cup of suffering throughout the night. Even though the drops of blood, sweat, and tears were still visible on his brow, in His beard, and on His clothes it was settled, He was obeying and would obey. Instead of running away from the cross and the betrayal, Jesus moved toward it with settled confidence. He was obeying the Heavenly Father.
When Paul was describing Jesus to some believers, he said that Jesus “gave up his divine privileges, he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross” (Philip. 2:7-8, NLT). It takes humility to obey God, especially when it involves dying to yourself.
Hebrews 5:8 says something interesting about all this, “Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered” (NLT). He learned obedience. This does not mean that Jesus was disobedient and then he learned how to obey. Jesus grew perfectly. He matured perfectly. He never sinned. As Jesus grew, He learned some things about obedience that you can only learn through suffering and pain.
There are some things about obedience that you and I can only learn in the classroom of suffering that we cannot learn anywhere else. It’s one thing when my kids obey me when I say eat your ice cream. It’s another thing for them to obey me when I say go clean your room. It’s one thing to obey God when He says bless your friend, but another thing to obey God when He says bless your enemy.
Jesus learned a lot about obedience during His Gethsemane and crucifixion.
As a result of your Gethsemane, you will learn about obedience and hopefully make the resolve to obey like Jesus did.
In 1 Peter 1:14 we are told, “So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then” (NLT). One of the reasons God allows you to go through your Gethsemane is for you to learn how to obey when things are not going the way you want them. Your Gethsemane moves you from “you didn’t know any better” to “you know better.” When you go through your personal Gethsemane, it is a refining of you. It’s a pruning of you. As a result you learn about obedience.
Resolve to bless
In your Gethsemane, you will resolve to act, resolve to learn, resolve to obey, and resolve to bless. What’s amazing to me is that Jesus’ Gethsemane was not only significant for Him, but for you and I as well.
It’s at Gethsemane that Jesus makes His final decision to go through with the cross. He agrees once and for all to drink the cup of suffering that was to come at the hands of sinners and at the hand of God. Mankind’s hatred toward Him would be unleashed in all its fury onto Jesus and God’s wrath would be poured out on Him for all of mankind’s sin. The decision to drink that cup of suffering happened in Gethsemane. That is where the victory was actually won. When Jesus made that final decision there was no applause from the crowd, there were no witnesses, there were cheers, and there were no trumpets of celebration. It was simply an intense and agonizing decision the Son of God made alone with the Heavenly Father. When Jesus finally said, “Not my will, but your will be done,” well at that point the battle is already won, now the battle only must take place. When Jesus crosses the finish line on the cross, He will say, “It is finished.” Because of what Jesus did on the cross many people have been blessed with eternal salvation. When Jesus decided to obey, He also decided to bless others.
As a result of your Gethsemane, you will bless others. When you decide to do what God wants you to do regardless of the consequences and suffering, you position yourself to be used by God to bless many people. Listen carefully to 1 Peter 3:9, “Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing” (NLT). Because of your Gethsemane and because of your obedience many people are going to be blessed. Stay faithful. Stay resolved.
I think this series on Gethsemane has done three things.
- It is preparing you for your personal Gethsemane. You will need to remember these things when it happens. God will bring them back to your heart and mind if you treasure them in your heart.
- It is preparing you to help someone else going through their Gethsemane.
- It is repairing the damage you experienced when you went through your Gethsemane, and you were not prepared.
[i] Some translations word this sentence as a statement, “God ahead and sleep. Have your rest,” while others translate it as a question, “Are you still sleeping and resting?” (CSB, ESV, NASB, NIV).