Saturday, July 13, 2013

Jesus Walked to Gethsemane (Jn. 17:20-26 - 18:11)

This is my personal summary of Rev Dr Stephen Tong's sermon on 7 July 2013 in STEMI Expository Preaching at True Way Presbyterian Church Singapore. It was preached in Chinese with English translation

Passage: John 17:20-26; 18:1-11

The prayer in John 17 is the last portion in the Upper Room.  Jesus ended the Holy Communion with His disciples, then made this prayer to the Father.  After He finished praying He went to the garden of Gethsemane (Jn 18).

Mark 10 records that Jesua sang hymn when He walked to Gethsemane.  Christianity is the faith that sings most songs.  Christians are to be filled with the Holy Spirit and sing praises and give glory to God. 

When Jesus wept for Jerusalem He saw the destruction that would happen in the future.  He cried at Lazarus’ tomb because He saw the stubborness of the people.  In the same manner, when He cried out to God at Gethsemane, it was not for Himself.  It is not because Jesus wanted to avoid death, in fact He came to earth so that He could die.  He entered death but was never subdued by the power of death.  He said He had the power to give away His life and the power to take it back.  Death cannot overcome Him for He is the Lord of Life.  This is the Lord who can be your Saviour.

But what is the meaning of His prayer at Gethsemane? What is the cup that He wanted to be passed from Him?  It is not His death nor crucifixion.  Jesus never pitied Himself.  Self-pity is unbecoming of a Christian.  If you indulge in self-pity, you have fallen into the trap of the devil.  You have forgotten your inheritance, your hope and your salvation.  When Peter said to Jesus that the crucifixion should not happen to Him, the German translation is, “Lord, have pity on yourself” and Christ’s response was, “Get behind Me, Satan.”  This is very stern.  Asking Christ to escape the cross is of the devil.  He is so strict and solemn.  The Bible teaches you not to pity yourself.

So Jesus could not have pitied Himself at Gethsemane.  Yet why would He pray for the cup to be removed?  “If it were possible, let this cup pass over Me but not My will but Yours be done.” This also does not mean that Jesus has a different opinion from the Father.  The Father’s will and Jesus’ will are one, that is why Christ submit to the Father’s will.  But why did He distinguish His will and God’s will?  It proves that Father is a Person and the Son is a Person, so each has a will, but they are aligned.  It proves He is not independent of the Father and is obedient to the Father. 

But again what was this cup?  This cup is neither death nor suffering.  Christ is very willing to suffer and to die.  The cup refers to the separation between Him and the Father.  He was not willing to be separated from the Father.  So His prayer was not against the will of God.  There is a great mystery.  For one moment in history, there is a separation between the Father and the Son to accomplish God’s eternal will to reconcile sinners to Himself.  It seems wrong but this is right.  It is paradoxical.  If God the Father did not desert God the Son, we will not be reconciled to God.  If the Son was not cursed, we will not be blessed.  God judged Christ so that we would be acquited, God let Him die so that we will live. 

As Christ walked to Gethsemane, He sang from Ps. 118, “This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.” The Day refers to the Passover Day, the day Christ suffered, was crufified and died within the span of 24 hours.  It is the will of God that this be the Day of salvation.


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