Matthew 26:36-41 New King James Version (NKJV)
The Prayer in the Garden
36 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.”
37 And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed.
38 Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.”
39 He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”
40 Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “What! Could you not watch with Me one hour?
41 Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Jesus "went a little farther .. and prayed."
--In all He did, Jesus always "went a little farther."
--Here we are on holy ground, that holy Thursday, last week of Jesus' earthly life, before Calvary's cross.
--What was His prayer? That He prayed, three times?
--"Let this cup (this cross) pass from Me" (v 39).
It is easy to overlook what that "cup" represents- the contents of the awful sins of all God's creation!
--The iniquities of us all - past, present, and future.
--Jesus, holy, harmless, separate from sinners, He was willing to take our place, and pay our debt.
--A debt He did not owe. A debt we could not pay.
--Can you imagine the suffering, and horror He felt?
He prayed, for the cup to pass, but knew it couldn't.
--Then, "nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will."
--Jesus, God the Son, left it up to God,, the Father.
--He is teaching me, and all of us, to do the same.
--To let the Lord God lead. Not I, but Christ!
--To let the Risen Savior live, in us, in all things.
Gospel musician Hilding Halverson told of overhearing a conversation between his son and two other small boys.
--The kids were all bragging on their dads.
--One boy said proudly, "My dad knows the Mayor!"
--Another said, "My dad knows the Governor!"
--Halverson's son had this touching comment, "I do not believe my dad knows these, but he does know God."
--"He does know God," ringing in his ears, and touched by his son's remark, Halverson slipped away in tears to give thanks to the Lord, for a son like that; and for strength to live always, a life like that. Jesus is in Gethsemane's Garden.
--On His knees beneath the olive trees, praying for a lost world to come to trust and obey their Messiah.
--Jesus "went a little farther," so we may.
--With Him. Day by day. All the way, to heaven.
To be honest, most of us have not gone fully with God.
--We can go farther, with Him, if we will.
--"Farther with Him," in worship. His word. Prayer.
--In godly living. In winsome witnessing. In love.
--I have on my desk the words, "Not I, but Christ."
--To put my Lord and Savior first, in everything.
--He is everything to me! My God. Guide. Guard.
--Because of His cross, resurrection, prayers, for me.
--I want to go "farther," and bring others, unto Him.
What about our future? Our dreams? Our goals?
--No one can be sure of our job. Health. Our money.
--Things can all change, often so suddenly, even life!
--One thing we can be sure .. is the Lord! His Book!
--"He has given assurance of this to all by raising Jesus from the dead" (Acts 17:31). "Assurance!"
--He is the One in Whom we can trust our future.
--We can, in Christ, rest eternally secure as we obey.
As to His life, and future, Jesus left it to the Father's will, "Not as I will, but as You will" (v 39).
--Then, let's not demand things of God. Of our will.
--God, Who knows the end from the beginning, knows far wiser than we .. so let's let Him have His way!
--Our part is to trust .. and obey. Not I but Christ.
We've all known people who go "a little farther."
--Maybe family members. Friends you'll never forget.
--We have many for whom "I thank my God on every remembrance" (Phil. 1:3). And others we read about.
--Like a bus driver, Jack, in a bad area of Chicago.
--With tough street gangs. Who often wouldn't pay.
--Threatened him. Robbed him. Even beat him up!
--Jack was a Christian, and in the hospital prayed to do something to win those hoodlums to the Lord.
In fact, when he recovered, at the trial, Jack asked, "Judge, let me serve their sentences in jail-or part of them." He was willing, for these who beat him up!
--The judge said, "There's no precedent for this!"
--With the guilty present, Jack said, "Your honor, I believe there is - for Jesus took our place, as Jesus went to the cross to forgive our sins, He never committed." The judge agreed; yet it was denied.
--The judge gave Jack visiting rights, and he went often to jail, witnessing in love - and won some!
Why do I tell you about Jack? He "went a little farther." Like our Lord Jesus. Like more need to do.
Isn't it easy, friend, to love folks who are lovely.
--Those who are good. And good looking. Or well off.
--But what about the unlovely? The elderly? Ill?
--Those who differ from us? Youth, who went astray?
--Those locked in prison? Or imprisoned by drugs?
--Or those who have never been reached by the Savior?
--How much do we love them? Can we go "farther"?
John the Baptist, the Billy Graham of his day, won so many with his message, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand," also declared of Jesus, "He, Jesus, must increase, I must decrease" (John 3:30).
--It is the Christ in us, that makes a difference.
--It is not us, but Jesus.
Ever wonder why not more come to follow the Savior?
--I have. Youth -too happy to do so now, maybe later.
--Adult - too busy now, making a living, having fun.
--Older - too anxious about the future - ways are set.
--As death is near - too ill to think of Jesus.
--Eternity - have forever to think - of blessings they have missed, and opportunities lost.
--I beg you, friend, don't be among such a list.
--Take time, now, for the Lord .. and day by day.
We can trust the Lord, to save, forgive, and bless us.
--If He loves us enough to take our place on a cross, don't you think He is wise enough to guide aright?
Is there some sort of cross facing you? Some burden?
--Some testing, or ill, or heartache? Some sorrow?
--Turn not to the bottle. Turn to the One, True God.
--He is more able to handle it, than you or I.
That Good Friday, it looked like Jesus was defeated.
--That His holy cause had failed. But not so.
--All part of the Father's eternal plan, paying for sin of man - requires God's suffering, and ours.
--Ah! Come Easter dawn, Jesus arose! Alive again!
--Victor over the devil! Death! And disease!
--When we face trials, remember we conquer in Christ!
We can learn from our disciplines and disappointments.
--God's saints are His servants. We also suffer.
--Jesus "learned obedience by the things He suffered, according to Hebrews 5:8. He comforts us.
I read of a high-caste Brahman in India at a spiritual retreat for Hindus, with Mahatma Gandhi.
--Brahmans never do menial labor. It's below them.
--Each had a task at this retreat. His was toilets.
--Deeply offended, he went to Gandhi, complaining.
--"I hold a doctorate degree. Capable of great things.
--"I know you can do great things," Gandhi replied,"I need to know if you can do humble things of service, for others." That is what Jesus did, for us all!
How are we at "washing others' feet?" As care-givers?
--Of "turning the other cheek"? Holding our tongue?
--Making peace? Showing more love? Small things?
--No, these are great things, when done for God!
What else did Jesus pray for? "God's will, be done."
--"He went a little farther .. and prayed, 'Not as I will, but as You will" (v 39). Many want my will.
--Many of us have our own will and way we want done.
--But I ask, do we really know .. more than God?
--So I have to pray, "Not I, but Christ." "Thy will."
You may ask, How do we know God's will? Ask Him!
--We may be brilliant, have it all worked out; but ask God what He thinks best. He will show it to us.
--How? By His Word. By prayer. Holy Spirit leading.
--With an inner peace and quietness of heart.
--Of faith and confident trust, to His will, glory.
Paul, a Pharisee, member of the Sanhedrin, thought he was right with God, as he persecuted Christians.
--Until he met Jesus on the Damascus Road, and he heard Jesus say, "Why are you persecuting Me?" (Acts 9:4).
--From Stephen's stoning death, Paul saw the "Light"!
--Became a believer, and proclaimer of the Gospel.
--Went over the world, winning many to the Savior.
--Have you made this life-changing decision? Do it.
--Be "born again" and alive in Jesus! Best life ever!
--Go "farther" in Him!
Wilbert D. Gough, ThD., DD. 825