The Garden of Gethsemane gives us some interesting insight into the heart of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In the garden we see Jesus struggling, sweating profusely, torn up inside, intensely engaged. We see him so exposed, so human.
He asks his Father for another alternative. He sees what lies before him and so wants another possibility, another option, another choice. He is facing a most difficult death by crucifixion. His prayer in the garden demonstrates his concern over what is about to happen. He had known for a while about what would happen, but the time was now fast approaching.
Mark 10:45 records Jesus acknowledging that “the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” In Mark14:24 he teaches that his blood of the New Testament is shed for many (Mark 14:24). Both references to his death note it is done for “many.”
The phrase “for many” seems a bit strange until we realize that Jesus is recalling what he read in Isaiah 53, the chapter that prophesies of Jesus’ death.
He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
Those verses from Mark show us that, as Jesus looked forward to his death, he understood it would be a ransom (i.e. a payment to set others free). He also understood that his death would bear the sins of many — including ours. He realized this because he knew what Isaiah foretold about it.
Sin often comes disguised as cleverness, happiness, or fulfillment. But despite its many facades, sin at its root is ugly disobedience. It’s about us asserting power. It is rebellion against God’s authority, and an undermining of His kingdom. Sin is snubbing God and doing what we want in spite of what He says.
Jesus’ mission, should he choose to accept it, was to bear my ugly sins. Yes mine, then yours, then “the sin of many.” The cost would be his life. He would become as we were so we could become as he is. His Father never left him alone; He was with him through the entire ordeal.
Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered [Jesus is talking to his apostles.], every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.
Jesus talking about the time of his crucifixion and death, said, “the Father is with me.” Although Jesus knew everyone else would forsake him, he took comfort knowing that his heavenly Father would be with him. He said previously in John 8:29 that the Father hath not left him alone because he always did what pleased Him. Indeed, he came down from heaven, not to do his own will, but the will of his Father Who sent him (John 6:38). When Jesus was dying on the cross, he was doing his Father’s will and God was with him (II Corinthians 5:19).
Jesus spent some agonizing time in prayer in the garden of Gethsemane when he asked the Father three times “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39). Jesus did not want to endure the torture and death he saw ahead of him, and asked God if there were some other way. When he knew there was no other way, he submitted to the will of his Father, making God’s will, his will. Then in John 18:11 when the soldiers came to take Jesus he had already made up his mind. He resolved to do his Father’s will. He asked, “The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?”
Jesus obediently drank the cup placed before him securing our deliverance from sin and death. His broken body also provided for our healing. Many of us will be participating in holy communion this week. As our thoughts turn to what Jesus provided for us let’s not forget the price he paid and his willingness to die in our place. He was obedient unto death even the death of the cross (Philippians 2:8). How resolved are we to obey what God asks of us? He gave us an example so we could walk in his steps.
Always remember, too, that Jesus did not remain dead. Yes, he gave his life and died, but God raised him from the dead, and he dieth no more (Romans 6:9). Death has no more dominion over him. He has been raised from the dead by the power of God, and has promised that we, too, have victory over death. It is the last enemy that shall be destroyed (I Corinthians 15:26). I have found great comfort in disciplining my mind to think of resurrection whenever I hear of death. “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (I Corinthians 15:57 & 58).
By Wayne Clapp