Sermon preached on Sunday, April 6, 2012 at Garden Valley Chapel during our Good Friday service based on Matthew 26:30-35.
Take your Bible if you will and open it to the twenty-sixth chapter of the book of Matthew where we will be this evening.
Context: Jesus and his disciples have left the Upper Room to go pray in solitude in the Garden of Gethsemane.
John tells us in John 18:1 –
1 When Jesus had spoken these words, He went forth with His disciples over the ravine of the Kidron, where there was a garden, in which He entered with His disciples.
Luke says in Luke 22:39 –
39 And He came out and proceeded as was His custom to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples also followed Him.
Mark and Matthew both say that it was after singing a hymn, that “they went out to the Mount of Olives” (cf. Mk 14:26).
The place where they are going was not very far. It was a perhaps a half-hour walk, no more than three-quarters of a mile.
Gethsemane was a garden planted with olive trees. The name comes from an Aramaic word meaning “olive press,” suggesting that it was a place where olives were harvested and made into oil.
In all likelihood it was a private garden owned by someone who was friendly to our Lord who permitted Him to retreat there with his disciples – away from the activity and crowds of the people in the city.
Despite the place where they were heading, our Lord continued to teach even while walking.
The disciples were still trying to process everything they had just heard.
Jesus our Lord, was “troubled” in his soul as He considered the cross.
The term (Gr. ταράσσω) refers is strong and signifies horror, anxiety, and agitation. He was contemplating the taking on of the wrath of God for the sins of the world!
Perhaps on their way, over the Kidron Valley, they saw the running crimson blood from the hundred thousand lambs that were slain just a few hours before.
It was in the air. It was on the ground. It was just the reality of the Passover.
It was a solemn moment. Either it was on their way, or just as they reached the garden, but our Lord has more to say that is rather disturbing for those remaining disciples:
“You will all fall away because of Me this night.”
All of us at one point or another have considered this thought: What would I do if confronted with the choice of denying Him or not?
We may play out scenarios in our mind, but what if they truly did happen.
Monday, September 20, 1999. Time Magazine runs an article called “Terror in the Sanctuary” highlighting the killing of 5, the wounding of 7, at a local church.
Larry Gene Ashbrook comes to Wedgewood Baptist Church with a 9 mm semiautomatic and a .38 caliber in hand and with intent to harm.
Why? We may not know. Bu t what if confronted with that same question: Deny Christ or be a martyr. Which will it be?
Yet it was one individual who stood up in the midst of the crowd saying, “You need Jesus.” Ashbrook, 47, simply replies, “It’s all a lie.”
We all want to believe that when a trial comes, we will bring honor to Christ and not shame to His Name.
But the thing that keeps me from becoming overzealous in my response is knowing my weakness. It’s there.
Left to ourselves, apart from divine grace, we all lack the strength and fortitude to stand up for Christ in the face of hostility.
Do you think the disciples were any different?
Ultimately all of them died for their faith or were persecuted, tortured, or exiled because of it. But they were not always so bold.
Mark tells us what happened that night in Mark 14:50 –
50 And they all left Hi m and fled.
At that moment, their faith in Him collapsed as they realized what would happen to them.
Calvin notes, “how much more ready they were to fight rashly than to follow their Master.”
Were they prepared to face such opposition?
Were they prepared to face such a trial?
They are on their way to the place where Christ would be taken captive. He knows it but they don’t and so He began to warn them:
“You will all fall away because of Me this night.”
He had already told them that “one of you will betray Me” (Matt 26:21).
But now it was “You will all fall.” Peter responds, in Luke 22:33 –
33 … “Lord, with You I am ready to go both to prison and to death!”
He was not the only one with overconfidence.
We read at the end of our passage in Matt 26:35 –
35 … All the disciples said the same thing too.
Instead of what we all know to do:
Fall on our faces and plead to God for grace and strength for what lies ahead.
But they wanted to fortify their own self-confidence through boasting and self-determination and verbal declaration of their loyalty to Christ.
Yet this coming trial would be the trial that defined them, that molded them, that reformed their hearts, to greater faithfulness and greater acts of obedience than ever before.
This trial would be etched in their hearts and God would use it to humble them for their entire earthly life.
And so there are two power lessons for all disciples of Christ imbedded in this passage. Every child of God needs to learn and relearn these lessons:
1. Christ’s absolute sufficiency (vv. 31-32)
2. Our utter insufficiency (vv. 33-35)
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