I have the privilege of teaching our church community this coming Sunday. We are working through a series called The Glory of the Cross and we’re studying Jesus’ last days on earth. My teaching will be centered on Jesus’ prayers to the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane. Matthew has the most detailed account in 26:36-42. Ever wondered what’s happening there? How can the Incarnate God be in such agony? Why does Jesus appear to want to bail on his mission, the very thing he knew he came to do? I am eager to answer that question for my church on Sunday night. I am convinced that what we see happening at Gethsemane gives us one of the most astounding portraits of our Savior. To grasp his agony is to behold his glory. And to grasp his agony is to be led to worship Him.
In my preparation, I have been blessed to read Jonathan Edwards’ sermon on the topic, titled Christ’s Agony (you can find it online through a Google search… beware it’s a little dense). Here are some quotes that have really helped me to understand what’s going on in Gethsemane.
The agony was caused by a vivid, bright, full, immediate view of the wrath of God. The Father, as it were, set the cup down before him… he now had a near view of that furnace into which he was about to be cast. He stood and viewed its raging flames and the glowing of its heat, that he might know where he was going and what he was about to suffer.
Christ was going to be cast into a dreadful furnace of wrath, and it was not proper that he should plunge himself into it blindfold, as not knowing how dreadful the furnace was. Therefore, that he might not do so, God first brought him and set him at the mouth of the furnace, that he might look in, and stand and view its fierce and raging flames, and might see where he was going, and might voluntarily enter into it and bear it for sinners, as knowing what it was. This view Christ had in his agony… Then he acted as knowing what he did; then his taking that cup, and bearing such dreadful sufferings, was properly his own act by an explicit choice; and so his love to sinners was the more wonderful, as also his obedience to God in it.
If just the taste and glimpse of these sufferings were enough to throw the eternal Son of God into shock, and to nearly kill him in the anticipation of them, what was the actual, full experience of those sufferings on the cross really like?
Powerful and humbling stuff. If you’re a Kent person, I hope to see you on Sunday night at 5:00 in Bowman Hall 133.