This is a little more lengthy, a sermon, but a good read on the battlefield that is Prayer
Dead In The Garden
Matthew 26:36-46; Luke 22:39-49
The Garden of Gethsemane. What a beautiful and poetic place in our minds, literature, songs, and all these last 2000 years.
The name “Gethsemane” comes from the root Aramaic word for “oil press”. It is filled with Olive Trees. Having been to Israel, and spent time in multiple Spanish locals, Lisa and I learned to love Olive Trees. They are such interesting trees. They go down into the ground and come back up, from the roots, over and over, year after year, which creates very gnarly interesting looking trunks. They produce beautiful wood, and of course the olive, and the oil.
The Garden of Gethsemane contains trees that have connections of 2000 years old or more. The oldest trees can only be dated to about 1000 years. However, recent tests say that they are all familial and appear to be cuttings from much older trees. They could be the very trees, or offshoots from the roots of the trees under which Jesus would have prayed.
It is under these trees, that Jesus was anguished out like Oil in a press. We know it as the place where he prayed, and the place where he was arrested.
Look at this painting by the artist, Caravaggio.
The Garden of Gethsemane was not just the place that Jesus was betrayed, or the place where he was finally caught. The Garden of Gethsemane gives us the picture, and example, of HOW to deal with the battles of Life. How do we prepare for the battles? Where do we FIGHT the Battle?
Notice something that jumps out at me from this painting …
Judas, center, has just kissed Jesus on the cheek, the signal to arrest our Savior. John is on the left, running from the scene, but being held back by a guard.
Caravaggio, the artist, has placed himself on the far right, holding a lantern, relating to our culpability in the death of Christ. It was OUR sin, that captured him, and sent him to the cross.
There, center left is Jesus.
What I want you to see about Jesus is his posture.
Facing arrest in innocence. Facing a death sentence. Before the lies, before the accusations, before the injustice, the beating, the plucking of the beard. Before the nails, the spear …
He is passive.
He is not fighting, he is not fleeing.
Then notice, the light is falling on his hands.
His hands are clasped, fingers intertwined, I see a resoluteness in his hands.
He is committed to the task.
He is dead to himself
He is dead to death
He is already dead!
How do we fight the battles of obedience to complete the tasks of God?
How do we seek God’s face and come out victorious?
How do Face even the Valley of the Shadow of Death, and find the strength and courage to go into it resolutely?
The Battle is In the GARDEN …
The Battle is ON Our Knees.
The Garden of Gethsemane was, in my opinion, the final battle that Christ faced on this earth. The fake trial, the beatings, the mocking, the taunting, the cross, were NOT a battle for Christ. Of course, they were Physically demanding and painful, but there was NO doubt that he would continue and finish what he set out to do.
Look at his hands …
The key to that Resolve, was the Victory, that was won in The Garden.
Christ had shared the Passover meal with his disciples. Then he made the late evening walk with his disciples, giving them his final teachings on The Vine and the Branches, and the coming of the Holy Spirit. He prayed in their presence for Unity of his people. Then he cross the Kidron Valley on the East Side of Jerusalem, and goes to The Garden.
READ Matthew 26:36-46 and Luke 22:39-
What is the Battle that you face Today?
The Garden is the Place to fight the battle.
Our time with the Lord gives us the power for the battles of life.
The battles are NOT won on the playing field, on the contrary, they are won as we wrestle with ourselves, and with God, and gain the victory and resolution to go on in obedience to his will.
When we’ve surrendered to his will, we will not give in to defeat, discouragement, or the devil.
Jesus and his disciples were BOTH in the Garden. They were BOTH to be praying …
But the disciples SLEPT …
What was the difference?
- Understanding God’s Plan – Jesus didn’t go into the garden wondering what to do. He knew because he had been in the garden before. He knew the plan. So, in the garden, now, he was praying for strength and certainty, NOT deliverance. Oh, the flesh wanted deliverance, “Father If …” but the other difference, Jesus had …
- A Strong Spirit and a Strong Flesh – We want to cop out and say, “oh, I’m just not strong enough … but the strength of the flesh comes from strengthening and committing the spirit to the God-revealed plans. The disciples were weak because they had NOT spent the time in the Garden BEFORE. They were driven by selfish desires and felt needs. They were driven by what THEY wanted, an earthly kingdom, notoriety, etc. They didn’t know the plans and purposes of God.
What is the Garden?
The Garden is a Place of Passion
“fell face down” / “sweat drops of blood”
The Garden is a Common Place
Luke 22:39 – “He went out and made his way as usual to the Mount of Olives … 40 When he reached the place …”
This was NOT a just because he knew that he was going to die tomorrow.
This was common action, common place, common practice for Christ.
It was common when he faced critical decisions, it was common when he had a battle to face, it was common for him to relate to the Father, through passionate prayer and surrender.
With God, in prayer, is not the last resort, it is the first and common place for us.
The Posture of the Garden is one of Surrender
– for Jesus, we know that he knelt, we also know that he ended up on his face.
Those are postures of humility and surrender to a Sovereign.
They are postures of great anguish, and deep desire for gracious favor of our Sovereign.
– For the disciples, he told them to pray, but in the lateness of the night, and their exhaustion, they fell asleep and so he told them to “get up and pray“.
– if the posture you are in is causing you to struggle in prayer, find another position, it’s not as much about the posture, but it is about surrender.
– if kneeling or being on your face causes you to surrender to sleep, then stand, walk, pray out loud, but take a position where you can surrender to God.
Hebrews 5:7 says Jesus – “offered prayers … with loud cries and tears … and he was heard because of his reverence (submission)”.
He wasn’t heard because of position, but because of passionate surrender
The Garden is a Place –
– where we Recognize His Power – “… all things are possible”
– Where we Recognize His Position – “Abba, Father” –
Not My Will But Yours,
You Are Boss, You Are Leading, I Am Following.
Abba – (Aramaic) was the personal intimate way to relate to Father, i.e. “daddy”
Father – (Greek – pater) The formal address to the parent, ancestor, source of being, prototype, priest
We could amplify this phrase more Fully here,
“My Dearest Daddy, Father from whom I have my physical life, my spiritual being, whom I recognize as the source of everything I know, and the final authority on all matters, …”
When you Come to the Garden, bring Your Desires, but Be Prepared to Surrender to HIS
“Ok, this is nice inspirational stuff, pastor, but …”
So, What Do WE do in the Garden? How is the battle one in the Garden?
IN THE GARDEN …
1. The Armor of God is Put On
Ephesians 6:10–18 (CSB) 10 Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by his vast strength. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this darkness, against evil, spiritual forces in the heavens. 13 For this reason take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. 14 Stand, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waist, righteousness like armor on your chest, 15 and your feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace. 16 In every situation take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit—which is the word of God. 18 Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints.
You have the Armor of God at your disposal, but you MUST put it ON. When the battle starts you will be vulnerable if you don’t already have your armor on. It’s tough getting dressed into armor while you are being attacked.
What’s the Armor?
– Breastplate of Righteousness
– Belt of Truth
– Shoes Preparation of the Gospel
– Shield of Faith
– Helmet of Salvation
– Sword of the Spirit
How do you put it on?
Ephesians 6:18 says, Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request … i.e. “about everything”
“Pray On” each Piece of the Armor, and its Characteristics of Protection and Offense. Something like this …
Lord, I take up the Breastplate of Righteousness, may the righteousness of Christ protect my heart, and vital organs.
I put on the belt of Truth. May the truth of God be the buckling point that keeps my armor in place and guards my deep-set places and passions in check and protected.
I stand on a grounding in the word of God and a commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I hold up faith as my shield.
I will hide behind the victorious Cross of Christ that has won every victory for me, and allow him to lead me in a triumphal procession of Victory.
I take up the Word of God as my only weapon of offense. I will not use it recklessly or selfishly. I will not make it say what I want, but will allow it to speak for itself and defend me.
Over all, I put on the helmet of Salvation, the mind of Christ. May his attitude of selfless service, humility, and commitment, be my attitude and mind. Lord, today I am prepared for the battles that will come and I walk with you, for you, and live toward your glory, Amen
Also, IN THE GARDEN …
2. Discouragement Is Banished and Strength is Imparted
A. Discouragement is banished
Why do we get discouraged?
We feel like we are not appreciated
We feel like we are not accomplishing or living up to our potential.
We feel no one notices or cares.
We feel like God doesn’t see us or realize what we are going through.
In the Garden, we come into the presence of God, and feel his embrace, his praise, his pleasure.
The greatest thing that God wants from us is for us to commune with him.
So, you can be sure that when we come into his presence in the Garden, he is pleased, we have his attention, we experience his approval.
In his presence, we better understand his purpose, we can get a better perspective on what we might call failure or success.
Discouragement is banished in the garden
B. Strength is Imparted in the Garden
Luke 22:43,44 – Then an angel from heaven appeared to him, strengthening him … he prayed more fervently, and his sweat became like drops of blood falling …
The Olive Press
“Oh, I don’t know if I will have the strength to pray as I should …”
Strength is imparted AS you pray, not just before you pray.
IN THE GARDEN …
3. Obedience is Determined
Obedience hasn’t been physically carried out, but the die is already cast.
– Those of you who are dating, you do NOT DECIDE to be PURE while you are ON the Date. That Battle is won in your heart and mind, before you ever get on the date.
– you might win a few minor skirmishes by fighting that way, but the difficult all-out battles are won as you determine, in the garden, before God, to be obedient.
– if you have a habit that you are trying to “kick” because you feel a conviction from the Lord to stop. That decision has to be made before him daily on your knees, NOT when the urge or craving hits. If you have already died to it, and decided what you will do, then when the thought or urge hits, you will get the Victory, because you are already dead.
IN THE GARDEN …
4. God is the Focus
Now, the “model prayer” Jesus taught his disciples, is NOT what he prayed here in the garden, but the WAY to pray in the Garden is revealed in that model prayer.
It is the focus Christ gave us in prayer … How was it we are to pray? To whom are we to pray? For whose glory?
Our Father – Who? –
He is God, He is Father, we are NOT. Oh, we need a fresh reminder do we not?
In Heaven – Where? –
He is in heaven, he is not limited to our limitations, he made it all. He is with us, but he is above us, he is over us.
Hallowed be Your Name – Why?
– All is for his glorification. It is not our glory we seek. As we pray for his name, anything that is for our glory will fade away.
Your Kingdom Come, Your Will Be Done – What? –
We seek to accomplish his purposes.
Adam and Eve failed in the First Garden, because they took their focus off God and put it on themselves. They should have been getting ready for their daily walk through the Garden with God, they instead surrendered to the prompting of Satan.
Yet in this Garden, Jesus took the focus OFF of Himself … “not my will” and put the focus on God “… but your will be done, Father”
In the Garden our Appetite is set on God …
What you hunger for is evident in the garden.
Is your Passion/Hunger for God or for other things; your plans, or the will of God
Psalm 63:1; 3-5 (CSB)1 God, you are my God; I eagerly seek you. I thirst for you; my body faints for you in a land that is dry, desolate, and without water … 3 My lips will glorify you because your faithful love is better than life. 4 So I will bless you as long as I live; at your name, I will lift up my hands. 5 You satisfy me as with rich food; my mouth will praise you with joyful lips.
C.S. Lewis says this about Hunger: “[If] we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.?” (CS LEWIS)
ILLUSTRATION “what if you … were invited to a friend’s house for dinner. You knew that your friend was a gourmet cook of nouvelle cuisine. You thought, her food is great but it’s usually not enough for you.
You are so hungry after missing lunch that day. You are on your way to their new house and there was something missing in the directions and you have a hard time finding her house. As you drive around, hungry and lost, you start driving by a string of fast food restaurants. You keep driving by a hot-dog place. You stop at the light and the aroma from the drive-thru is crying out and calling your name. You don’t want a hot dog, you need a hot dog.
There won’t be enough food anyway. I’ll just have a snack you decide while I find her house. You stopped to order a snack. But what to order? You settle on a regular hot dog, a Chicago dog, and a chili dog. The hot dogs really aren’t very big. And what’s a hot dog without French fries? So you ordered a large fries to cover the demands of the three hot dogs. Fries are salty and hot dogs are spicy, so you added a large soft drink to wash it down. You feel better now.
When you finally found her house, she had prepared a the most amazing and wonderful meal you’ve ever seen. However, you can’t enjoy it, you are miserable as you try to be polite and force a little food down. You don’t enjoy because you are FULL. You was so full, you even leave food on the plate.
This is a parable of prayerlessness.
Why don’t we pray? We don’t pray for the same reason you couldn’t enjoy that gourmet meal;
We’re stuffed in our spirits, full, over-loaded, packed, soul-crammed, not with the Bread of Life, but with spiritual junk food.
One writer said lack of prayer is a lack of hunger for God.
How do we regain our hunger for God?
– recount his deeds
– read the prayers of others
– memorize scripture
– pray the scriptures
– Fast – fasting requires you to fill your hunger with God. As you do this, you will begin to hunger for Him more than the things this world has to offer
We focus on God and regain our hunger for him in the Garden
IN THE GARDEN …
5. Self is Sacrificed
If you die in the garden, you will Live in Victory on the Battlefield.
If you don’t die in the garden, then Defeat crouches at the door”
Unless a seed goes into the ground and dies, it cannot produce the fruit it was intended to produce.
Jesus Christ “Died” in the Garden.
He left behind HIS will and Embraced the Will of the Father.
When he left the Garden, he was a “dead man walking”.
Remember those hands. He was set.
He was born to die, he lived to die, and that night in the garden he prayed and died.
That’s why he didn’t defend himself, that’s why he didn’t fight back, that’s why he went willingly to the cross.
That’s how he was the seed which sprouted into the beautiful planting of God that is you and me, the church of Jesus Christ which will be preserved and presented blameless before the Father in Eternity.
Beautiful Things grow in a garden, but …
Before Spring must come Winter,
Before planting must come plowing,
Before reaping must come planting,
Before fruitful life, must come the death of the seed, planted in the barren garden.
Jesus calls you to Tarry with him in the Garden.
Jesus calls you to follow him into the lonely place that is the Garden,
To Die to Self, allow the Spirit of God to plow deep the Hardness of Your Heart, and Break up the Dry, Fallow Ground.
Let him plow deep, and pull up the fertile soil below that he might plant his desires, his will in your life.
Dead in the Garden, means Life in the Garden.
Death in the Garden, means fruitfulness in your Life.
You will Get Up and Leave the Garden determined to do God’s will
Will You Tarry in the Garden?
Will you Surrender to him?
Let me just say, that there are some of you here today who LONG for the Garden, but you’ve never surrendered your life to Christ and you feel that when you pray there is a disconnect, that is simply because you need to give your heart to him.
Psalm 66:18 – if I had been aware of malice in my heart, the Lord would not have listened
You cannot have intimacy if you are separated from him by sin.
Accept Christ, receive him into your heart and you will know the Joy, Intimacy, and Victory of the Garden.
Dear child of God … go to the Garden
Church of Jesus Christ … seeking God’s direction, intervention, protection … Go to the Garden.