Friday, April 06, 2012

He was in the garden

This is the sermon I preached on Good Friday 2012.  There were three of us preaching that night, each of us taking ten minutes to present a theme based on the Lord's Passion.

[Text: Mark 14:32-42]

Gethsemane, Aramaic for “Olive Press” probably so named for the abundance of olive trees in this isolated garden that was a favorite haunt of our Lord.  Whatever comfort it may have afforded on previous visits, it appears that Jesus received little comfort on this night.

We know, from Scriptures, that Jesus was deity, filled with the fullness of the godhead.  He was, in fact, God Himself who took on human form.  The proofs of this great mystery were evident: the crippled walked, the deaf heard and the blind regained sight through a simple touch of his hand. His voice literally raised the dead and set the legions of hell to flight.  In so many ways we can see that he was more than a man.

But at this moment we can see that he was man and, to the uninformed, he appears to be something less than God now.  Now he appears to us so...human.  Sorrow, tears, despair, grief and doubt are some of the words that come to my mind while reading this text. Even from so great a distance as 2000 years the picture is painfully crystal clear.
What can we learn from such a tragic parade of words and pictures?  Jesus was just about to be betrayed, tortured and executed for the sins others including mine and yours.  We all get the big, theological picture, at least in part.

But what about the garden.  What does this tell us?  What happened here was more than mere condescension.  It was identification and empathy taught through experience in its rawest form.

We all will, at various times in our lives, find ourselves in our own garden of Gethsemane and like its name suggests, we too will be pressed on all sides.  But because He was in the garden first, He can and will stand with us.

Scriptures tell us: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses...

Are you alone today?  He knows.
Are you in pain today?  Jesus understands.
Have you been forsaken by friends and family?  He understands.
Does the darkness of despair and depression threaten to engulf you? Jesus knows.
Are you feeling overwhelmed with recent (or not so recent) tragedies?  Jesus has been there.
Are you fighting a battle with doubt?  Jesus understands.
Do you grieve?  So did Jesus, He understands.

You can come to me with all that concerns you and everything you are going through, you can rave, complain, vent, rage and weep and for my part I would try hard to sympathize.  But Jesus...O! Jesus.  How he knows.  He has been in our shoes and he understands. Therefore go to Him. Don’t walk, run to him today, right now.  I’m reminded of a hymn that goes something like this:

What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear.

What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!

O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.

Come to Him as Savior, come to Him as God, come to Him as Teacher, Master and Lord.  But also come to Him as Friend; compassionate and sympathetic.  Jesus understands because He has been in the garden.

No comments: