agony-in-the-garden

Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him.  On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.”  He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed,  “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”  An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.  And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.  When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow.  “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”

The scene is in the garden.

It is a scene of agony in an ancient olive farm.

This is a place of prayer.

A place where Jesus retired to pray to his Father.

It was late at night.

They have shared supper together.

Jesus has washed his disciples feet.

Somewhere around midnight the paschal moon filters through the olive trees and spotlights a dramatic scene.

Jesus prostrates himself upon the rocky soil clutching at the very ground for support.

He groans in distress and writhes in physical agony.

His usual calmness deserts him as he prays that prayer:

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”

Great beads of sweat appear on the face of Jesus as a shattering storm engulfs his soul.

Gradually, the sweat turned in crimson as his prayer increased in its intensity.

Soon, his entire body perspires…a sweat of blood.

Look at his body.

Let your eyes fall on the back of his head.

See his outstretched arms.

See the clenched fists.

And he pleads.

What are the causes of this internal dilemma?

What is this “cup” which he begs his Father to remove?

As pictures of Good Friday and the suffering of the cross flash through his mind.

The crucifixion looms before him, stark and terrifying.

How would you act in this situation?

Would your sensitive soul recoil in terror.

Would you be found on your knees in the garden?

Once again Jesus pleads:  “If it is possible…”

Would you find the strength?

Could you find the strength?

Christ did not run away from the Cross and the suffering that he knew awaited.

He did not take the easy way out.

He took the cup placed before him and suffered this incredible agony.

We live in a world filled with temptations.

Do we have the strength to resist them.

To follow Christ calls us to an ongoing personal struggle with the tendency to sin.

Apologies for the way I write sermon notes.  A sermon is a live talk and I write a rough guide that keeps me going in the right direction.  A lot of the sermon actual sermon is inside my head as I don’t just read a script.