Matthew 26:36-46 (Part 1)- Think of Your Darkest Days, Then You Can Start to Understand Jesus on This Night

Posted: April 7, 2016 in Gospel of Matthew

Matthew 26:36-46 (Part 1)

Jesus Agonizes in the Garden

 

Although I look back on it now and it was probably the best thing that has happened to me but when my previous wife said that she wanted to separate, I was devastated. She had been the singular focus of my life for the previous ten years. She had become such a god to me, which I allowed to happen I know now, that I had almost completely cut my own children out of my life just so that I could please her and put the needs of her children, with whom I lived, above those of my own. I had lost my soul in that relationship. Making her the center of my existence, making another human being, set me up for disappointment and a roller coaster ride of my personal value. I used to blame her for the things that she put me through but now I know that I let these things happen to me just to keep access to things that a man needs. If I had been a stronger man, I would have stood up for what I felt was right more often and been more confident in it. However, at the time, the separation and the ultimate divorce was devastating. When you wrap your life around someone and they become the singular focus of your life to the exclusion of everything else, it is a devastating blow. Everything that I had been, put up with, worked through, worked for, endured, etc. was all meaningless and pointless. I was just a baby Christ follower at the time and I did not have the confidence in the Lord, comparatively speaking, that I have now. This was a life-changing blow and it was difficult to handle. I had become completely dependent on her for my personal value. To remove the granter of my personal value from my life meant that I had none in my mind. Those first six months were months where it was difficult just to get out of bed in the mornings. I long for the weekend so that I did not have to put on a brave face at work but yet dreaded them because of the utter loneliness I felt. Nothing felt good. Nothing tasted good. I felt alone in crowds. I felt as though everyone could see how worthless I felt.

 

It was a necessary time in my life but man it was painful. I needed to let go of the main god in my life and grow closer step by step to the only and only real God. It was a slow process because I am not the brightest spiritual bulb in the marquee. There have been many things that I have had to let go of as the Holy Spirit has been about the process of sanctifying my soul. All of it painful at times, but none as painful as removing the main idol of my life. I look back on that lonely and desperate time and I can feel and taste that loneliness and feeling of worthlessness. It was a real taste in my mouth. It was an intense time of deep, dark raw emotion. Just putting one foot in front of the other was a chore. That feeling of heaviness was there and it made me physically tired all the time. There was a desperate feeling of dread of just moving through the long tick-tock of a 24 hour day. I made it through it and my life is supremely better now after having gone through that time of what would have to be termed idol withdrawal. It was like an meth addict going cold turkey – a necessary step in recovery but a ghastly awful experience that you never forget and never want to repeat. It was the same for me with this emotional and personal value addiction that I had. It was the darkest time of my life.

 

When I try to understand the Bible, I try to relate it to my own experiences so that I can truly get the meat out the Bible. When you can identify with something from your own experience, it makes the Bible more real. In order to tap into how Jesus felt in this passage, I have to remember this past time in my life to even remotely feel the pain that Jesus felt. So, for you, there is an experience or a period in your life that you felt devastated, totally alone, full of dread. Tap into that time period of your life. Relive those feelings of fear and dread and you will feel some of what Jesus felt. His feeling of dread, loneliness, and separation are even more intense than our worst moments because He was about to take on the sins of all humanity. Just imagine. Thinking of your worst time in life and you can just begin to feel the anguish of Christ on this night. With those raw emotions re-stirred from your past, let us read this passage together, Matthew 26:36-46 and today let’s concentrate on vv.36-37:

36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

 

39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

 

40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

 

42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”

 

43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.

 

45 Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”

 

 

Jesus was in great anguish over his coming physical pain. Of that there is no doubt. He was a man in his 30’s. He had most assuredly seen the pain and suffering that is caused to a man by crucifixion much less the beatings that one would take from the Romans before being nailed to a cross. He knew it was coming and He knew it was going to be painful. However, I think the thing that had Jesus in real anguish was that He was going to be separated from God for a time so that He could take on the wrath of God for all the sins of mankind for all time, past, present and future. He has existed in the Trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit from time eternal, from since before universe and time began. He was to be all alone away from the trinity of God. That impending separation had Him so completely overwhelmed that it was devastating to Him. However, He knew the Father’s will. He had confidence in what God was trying to accomplish. He was willing to suffer to accomplish God’s Will. He was willing to go through the hellacious next hours and go through the physical grinder to get through to the other side. He was willing to suffer the emotions of separation from the eternal trinity to accomplish the whole purpose of Him breaking into human history – to provide a way for us to be reconciled with a perfect and righteous God. All that is the end game. But here in this moment, Jesus shows us His understanding of human anguish and pain. He knows. He really, really does.

 

That’s the thing that I take away this morning is that Jesus knows our pain. Here in this scene, He is faced with the monumental task of saving mankind. He knew the end game. He knew the purpose. But in His humanness, He did not necessarily to have to go through the physical and emotional gut-wrenching experience. Jesus can identify with us when we face the hardest times of our life. He knows that feeling. He knows of that time in your life where you don’t want to get out of bed. He knows of that time in your life when you feel devastated. He knows that time in your life when you have been hit by a gut-punch of events and maybe it’s even a series of gut-punches to your emotional psyche one right after another. He knows those times when you feel lost and all alone. He knows your valleys and deepest and darkest moments. But Jesus clung to the Father. He held on to what the end game was. So, even when we are going through our worst times, we know through Jesus that we can survive it through clinging to our faith in God. We will come out the other side of it victorious and even better spiritually for having gone trhough the experience. Our tough times are part of our testimony to the world around us. I can look back on my darkest moments and see God’s hand at work. He was removing idols from my life. He was leading me to the next step in making me more faithful, available and teachable. The pain of the valley is all part of the plan for our lives. It’s not like Jesus is some remote god who plays with our lives for sport. He understands in real terms our pain and suffering. He suffered. He had anguish. He desired not to have to go through the dark times. He knows.

 

He says I’ve been there. Done that. Take me hand. I know what you are going through. I will carry you as you limp through this valley. I am here with you. I know what you are going through. I am here for you. I know your pain. I know your suffering. I know. I know. Take my hand. I will guide you through the valley and teach you to depend on me and not someone or something. Depend on me. For I will always be here. I will always be true. I will always be truth. I will always guide you toward God’s will for your life even though it might be painful at times. I know that. I have done the Father’s will even when it caused me great pain and anguish. I know. I know. I am here for you. I am Jesus Christ. I am your Savior. I am your Lord. Amen and Amen.

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