Scripture Text: Matthew 26:36-46, NLT
36 Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.” 37 He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed. 38 He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
39 He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
40 Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? 41 Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!”
42 Then Jesus left them a second time and prayed, “My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done.” 43 When he returned to them again, he found them sleeping, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open.
44 So he went to pray a third time, saying the same things again. 45 Then he came to the disciples and said, “Go ahead and sleep. Have your rest. But look—the time has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Up, let’s be going. Look, my betrayer is here!”
Gethsemane is an olive orchard and is very much in existence today. Our guide told us during our tour of the garden that olive trees never die. Titus had all the trees in Gethsemane cut down but they did not destroy the roots and the trees came back from the roots. The word Gethsemane means “Oil press” so obviously, at one time, this was a center for pressing olives.
There are many kinds of presses but they all work on the same dynamic, you have to put your olive in a position to be crushed. I have a couple of pictures that illustrated the principle. Once the olive was under the intense pressure, the oil was extracted from the fruit. The picture below is an olive press made from granite.
FIRST: I WANT TO TALK ABOUT THE AGONY OF JESUS IN GETHSEMANE
Have you ever given thought to how many things have to be crushed before they become a blessing to us? The bread we eat was once grain, the grain was crushed into flour or meal and that is how we get bread. Bread is crushed grain. Wine is crushed grapes. Perfume is crushed flower pedals. Orange juice is crushed oranges. My bible is made from trees that were crushed, pulverized and made into paper. The most important thing we have, our GREAT SALVATION came from something crushed, Jesus said, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death.”
Today, I want to talk to you for a few minutes about our LORD’s agony in the garden. Jesus was not exaggerating, the wait of our sin and guilt were crushing Him even in the Garden. Jesus was so traumatized by the agony He suffered that He literally sweated drops of blood. T.W. Hunt explains how and why Jesus was sweating blood.
It happens when a person is deeply traumatized. Now I understand what happened to the Tax Collector in Luke 18; at least two times in my life, I have been so traumatized that I had to beat on my chest to get my breath. Both times for me were due to feeling of grief. I have never been so traumatized that I sweated drops of blood but it does happen to mere humans. The medical term is hematohidrosis. It happened when a person is under great stress. Luke, the doctor, tells us in Luke 22:44, Jesus prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood. I do not believe that any other human has suffered the agony that Jesus suffered. Think of what was at stake, the salvation of mankind depended on Jesus.
SECOND: I WANT TO MENTION THE OUR COLLOSAL FAILURE AT GETHSEMANE
We may not like it: we may even protest the thought but we were there. The disciples our representative of the human family: they represent the best of us. Judas and the mod represent the worse of us but good or bad, we were there. Rarely did Jesus ask His disciples for a personal favor. He often commanded them to serve and help others but He seldom ask them to do something just for Him. It is amazing. I sit in my recliner and ask my wife for this or that–but Jesus never did those kinds of selfish things. No where in scripture does Jesus say, “Peter, would you bring me a glass of tea.”…John, since you are up, would you get me a cup of coffee.” BUT here in the GARDEN He has for a favor…”Would you sit here while I go over there and pray”…He takes Peter, James and John a little deeper into the garden and says…”My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
In His greatest hour of need, we failed Him. He ask for our sympathy and we gave Him our sleepy indifference. Everyone is like Peter, we all think we are the exception to the rule. “If I had been there,” you would have slept through the crisis just like you sleep through my sermons. Gethsemane is a testimony to human failure. How could they sleep on the eve of His crucifixion? How could they sleep with Him pleading for their prayers. How could they be so cruelly indifferent? We could not pray for one hour? Why couldn’t we enter into His agony? Why couldn’t we share some of the load?
We slept through the most critical hour of His life. Apathy, insensitivity, indifference, carelessness, laziness, selfishness: where do we put the blame? I don’t know but what I do know is not much has changed. Years ago I heard Dr. Steven Gaines tell this story that came from a gospel tract. It is a story of appalling indifference. The pamphlet is called “Sing A Little Louder.”
“I lived in Germany during the Nazi holocaust. I considered myself a Christian. I attended church since I was a small boy. We had heard the stories of what was happening to the Jews, but like most people today in this country, we tried to distance ourselves from the reality of what was really taking place. What could anyone do to stop it?
A railroad track ran behind our small church, and each Sunday morning we would hear the whistle from a distance and then the clacking of the wheels moving over the track. We became disturbed when one Sunday we noticed cries coming from the train as it passed by. We grimly realized that the train was carrying Jews. They were like cattle in those cars!
Week after week that train whistle would blow. We would dread to hear the sound of those old wheels because we knew that the Jews would begin to cry out to us as they passed our church. It was so terribly disturbing! We could do nothing to help these poor miserable people, yet their screams tormented us. We knew exactly at what time that whistle would blow, and we decided the only way to keep from being so disturbed by the cries was to start singing our hymns. By the time that train came rumbling past the church yard, we were singing at the top of our voices. If some of the screams reached our ears, we’d just sing a little louder until we could hear them no more. Years have passed and no one talks about it much anymore, but I still hear that train whistle in my sleep. I can still hear them crying out for help. God forgive all of us who called ourselves Christians, yet did nothing to intervene.
“Their screams tormented us . . . If some of their screams reached our ears we’d just sing a little louder.”
Now, so many years later, I see it happening all over again in America. God forgive you as Americans for you have blocked out the screams of millions of your own children. The holocaust is here. The response is the same as it was in my country – SILENCE!”
Have you ever wondered HOW people could have stood by and let the holocaust just happen? Do you wonder why the Christians in this story chose to just sing their praise to God a little louder to drown out the victim’s cries?
People around you need you. They are crying out for help and you are not helping. What do you do to drown out their haunting cry for help? Singing louder may help or better still, just stop up your ears and take a nap. You have a friend or a child that is crying out for your help: what are you going to do about it? Are you going to pretend its not happening or make your normal excuses, “Like, I don’t know what to do. Nothing I could do would help. How do you know? So you try and fail, it that not better than not trying at all.