Wednesday, January 30, 2013

What Is Your Gethsemane Moment?

Matthew 26:36-45
36  Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.
37  And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.
38  Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.
39  And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.
40  And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour?
41  Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
42  He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.
43  And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy.
44  And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.
45  Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.

The above passage of Scripture has always lingered in the back of my mind. Our Lord Jesus goes to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray during one of the most agonizing times in his life. You must remember that Jesus was not only 100% God but he was also 100% man. That means that he had feelings, desires, wishes, and emotions like we have.

During his years of ministry he surrounded himself with a close band of disciples. You might call them His local church. These disciples, whom he called friends, were with him through nearly everything. Three of them, Peter, James, and John, he trusted to be his "inner circle" of friends, in which he shared the most with. These three friends were privileged to be with him on the Mount of Transfiguration, where he revealed His true Glory. It seemed they were inseparable and from all appearances they dearly loved Jesus. I guess that's why Matthew 26 weighs so heavily on my mind.

You see, this was the most horrific and terrifying day in the life of Jesus. It was the day that he knew he was going to be betrayed, taken into custody, brutally beaten, falsely accused of crimes, and crucified. That is why he asked his three closest friends to go with him to the Garden and pray. It was a simple prayer request really. He just wanted them to sit outside of the Garden and watch and pray. I mean, these were his three closest friend, right? Surely they could do this simple thing for the One they loved with all of their hearts...

But, they fell asleep. Can you imagine how Jesus felt as he was agonizing in the Garden, only to return to check on his friends and find them asleep?  We always think of Judas being the one that betrayed Christ but really, all of them betrayed him in some way. Their seemingly lack of concern for Him must have felt like a betrayal as well.

As a Pastor, I have had those Gethsemane moments as well. You would think that eventually you would get used to it but it is always a shock when someone that you thought loved you suddenly turns their back on you. The sad part is these are the very people that you love with all of your heart, you pray for every day, and you hurt for when they are hurting. My grandfather who was also a Pastor once said that the church where he was pastoring held an appreciation day for him and the members all gathered around and pinned flowers on him from head to toe and told him how much they loved him. He said it wasn't a week later that those same members wanted to take the flowers off and just stick the pins in him! 

So, why am I even writing this solemn Pastor's Pen? Well, the key is in verse 45, after the third time Jesus returned to them, he found them asleep yet again, but, notice that he did not yell, scream, and berate them for their slothfulness, he simply said, "Sleep on now, and take your rest." Even in his pain and agony and betrayal he still loved his friends enough to tell them to go ahead and get some sleep. That's the heart of a true Shepherd or Pastor. That is why I can still go and stand behind a pulpit and preach, sit beside the bedside of someone dying, hold the hand of those that are hurting, and pray for those that betray me, because I do love them and care for them. That is why I have always said a true Shepherd will feed and lead, not starve and beat.

So, what is your Gethsemane moment? Have you been betrayed by those you love and thought loved you just as much? If so, how did you handle it? I think we can all take a lesson from one of the worst days in our Lord's life and instead of retaliating, we should just love our betrayers even more. 

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