Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Wednesday in Reminiscere - The Second Week of Lent


The Passion History – Part 2: Gethsemane

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

In Hebrew, Gethsemane is gat shemanim, which means oil press. Gethsemane was an olive grove at the foot of the Mount of Olives across the Kidron Valley from the Temple Mount, a place where Jesus and His disciples went regularly to pray. During Jesus’ time, heavy stone slabs were placed upon olives that had already been crushed in an olive crusher. The weight of the stones pressed the olives so that their oil poured forth and was collected in a pit and was then collected into clay jars. The imagery of the oil press serves to illustrate the Passion (suffering) of our Lord Jesus as He prayed in Gethsemane and His sweat poured forth from His forehead like great drops of blood. Three times Jesus prayed to His Father that this cup might pass from Him, yet it was His Father’s will to crush Him as Isaiah had prophesied.

“Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, against the man who stands next to me,” declares the LORD of hosts. “Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered; I will turn my hand against the little ones.” This was the Word of the LORD through the prophet Zechariah. In Gethsemane, however, Jesus interpreted these words in terms of Himself. Jesus is the Good Shepherd, the Man at His Father’s right hand, nevertheless the Father will strike His Shepherd and crush Him, and His sheep, His people, will be scattered; but when He is lifted up He will draw all men to Himself.

That night, in the oil press of Gethsemane, our Good Shepherd Jesus would be crushed, pressed, tried, tested, and tempted by Satan with His Father’s full permission and blessing. When Jesus faced Satan in the wilderness immediately following His baptism, He resisted the devil’s temptations, as a man, by standing firm on His Father’s Word. Then Satan’s temptations were for Him to use His divine power and feed His belly, acting like God the Father Himself instead of His faithful, loving, and obedient Son. Now, Jesus would be tempted to forsake the reason and purpose for which He was sent, to suffer and die for the sins of all mankind. Three times He prayed to His Father, “Take this cup from Me,” yet He concluded each of His prayers saying, “Not My will, but Yours be done.”

It was the Father’s will to crush His Son. It was the Father’s will that Job be afflicted. It was the Father’s will that Jacob’s hip should be put out of socket. It was the Father’s will that Paul should suffer a thorn in His flesh. It is the Father’s will that you suffer whatever it is that you suffer. His grace is sufficient for you just as it was for them. It was also the Father’s will that Jesus should rise on the third day, as it was the Father’s will that Job should be restored sevenfold, that Jacob should prevail and become the father of twelve tribes, that Paul should proclaim the Gospel to the Gentiles and to the world. And, it is the Father’s will that you should persevere through suffering, through trial and tribulation and even death, not giving up, but holding on, no matter what, that you should live with Him forever in His kingdom. Still, you will be crushed, and you will be pressed. You will face temptation by the devil, the world, and your own sinful flesh and desires, and the Father will permit you to suffer. And, when you do, turn to your heavenly Father for refuge and strength in prayer and in His Word.

“Pray that you do not enter into temptation,” Jesus taught His disciples in Gethsemane. They had heard this before when they asked Him to teach them how to pray. “When you pray,” Jesus taught them, “pray like this: ‘Our Father, who art in heaven, … lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” “You will all be offended (scandalized) because of me this night;” Jesus said, “for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd and the flock will be scattered’.” There was the glory of the mountaintop, the raising of Lazarus, and then Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem just days ago on Palm Sunday. Now, it was Passover, and the disciples anticipated great things for Jesus, and for themselves. But Jesus kept talking about suffering and death and His Father’s will. Then, Judas, the kiss, the guards, the arrest – this wasn’t supposed to happen! That is exactly what was supposed to happen – it was necessary to fulfill all righteousness. “Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled.”

Jesus knew His disciples, and Jesus knows you. He knows you because He created you, because you were created in His image, and He knows you because is truly a man, your brother, your Bridegroom, flesh of your flesh and bone of your bone. Jesus knows that your spirit is willing, but that your flesh is weak. Jesus taught His disciples what would happen to Him, what had to happen to Him, that He would be betrayed into the hands of the Gentiles, that He would be mocked and scourged, shamefully treated, and spit upon, that they would crucify Him, and that on the third day He would rise. Jesus taught them all these things before they happened so that when they happened they would remember that He had told them. Still, He knew that they would fail, that they would be crushed and pressed by temptation. So, He taught them to pray, “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” Jesus went to the oil press of Gethsemane to pray – to pray for strength that He might not give in to the temptations of the devil, the world, and His own flesh and desires – to pray that His Father’s will would be done, no matter what. And He told His disciples to watch and pray that they not be overcome by temptation. Twice He returned to them and found them sleeping – The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. The third time He returned it was the same, but now the betrayer was at hand: “Judas, do you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?”

Jesus’ Passion is His suffering for the sins of all mankind. It was necessary that the Son of Man should suffer and die and on the third day be raised from death. It was necessary for your redemption and for the redemption of all mankind. It was the Father’s will to crush Him in the olive press of His wrath against sin that He should become for you and for me the oil of gladness and the wine of life and joy. “All this has happened that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Jesus faced temptation for you. Jesus prayed for you. Jesus suffered for you. Jesus died for you. Jesus is raised for you. Caiaphas the High Priest prophetically proclaimed, “It is expedient that one man should die for the people.” In fulfillment of this prophecy and others Jesus suffered, died, and was raised so that another prophecy should be fulfilled: “Of all those You gave Me I have lost none.”

In the + Name of Jesus. Amen.

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