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Mar 11, 2018

In the Garden

In the Garden

Passage: Mark 14:26-52

Speaker: Pastor Chris Riedel

Series: Lent & Easter

Category: Lent

Keywords: garden of gethsemene, judas

If you were going into the Garden to wrestle with something, and you were going to take 3 people with you for support, who would you take?


They went to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and Jesus said, “Sit here while I go and pray.”  He took Peter, James, and John with him, and he became deeply troubled and distressed.  He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death.  Stay here and keep watch with me.”  He went on a little farther and fell to the ground.  He prayed that, if it were possible, the awful hour awaiting him might pass him by.  “Abba, Father,” he cried out, “everything is possible for you.  Please take this cup of suffering away from me.  Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”


- Mark 14: 32-36 (NLT)

When I was a teenager I went to a Christian high school where my dad was the music teacher and campus pastor. One morning during our chapel devotions, my dad read this scripture about Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane.  As a young child I was taught that Jesus went to the garden to pray, the disciples fell asleep and then Judas led the mob to the garden to arrest Jesus. But this was the first time I’d heard the phrase, “please take this cup of suffering away from me”. 

I wish I could say that I politely raised my hand and asked what “cup of suffering” meant.  Instead I shouted out, “Why did Jesus bring a cup to the garden? Was he thirsty?”  (Immediate giggles from my friends.)  My dad gave me “that look”.  You know, the one all parents give occasionally to their teens.  Then he explained what it meant.

But I still didn’t understand why Jesus was suffering in that moment.  I thought that this wouldn’t be difficult for God.  I believed that Jesus was God and God had a plan. He would come down to earth as a baby, grow up and perform lots of miracles.  Later, Jesus would die on the cross, rise from the dead and people would believe in him. Bing, bang, boom.  Our sins are forgiven and we all get to go to heaven!!  This was my personal “Jesus-as-superhero” theology.

Eventually I came to understand that not only was Jesus fully God, he was also fully human.  As Jesus prayed in the garden that night, he anticipated what was to come. The Bible says, “He was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood.” (John 22:44) Over the next few hours Jesus would be betrayed by one of his disciples, denied by his closest friends, given an unfair trial, physically tortured and bear the weight of the sins of the entire world. In his humanness, Jesus endured excruciating emotional, physical and spiritual pain.

Why did Jesus choose this pain? Jesus willingly chose to live fully into his humanness because he loves us with a never-ending love. His love is steadfast and unconditional. Paul, the apostle, says, “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below – indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39) 


Precious Jesus, thank You for being both fully God and fully human when You walked on this earth.  Thank You for choosing to love humanity when we’ve done nothing to deserve it. Thank You for suffering for our sins.  Help us, Jesus, to love those around us even when we don’t feel like it. Help us to forgive others when they hurt us. Please show us how to be more like You.  Amen.

Written by Jennifer Roberts. Jennifer leads the children's choir and the beginning handbell choir. She lives in Ashburn with her husband Ben and their son Ethan.