THE GARDEN OF GETHSEMANE
(Mt 26: 36 – 46; Mk 14: 32 – 42; Lk 22: 39 – 46; Jan 18: 1 – 11)
The Garden of Gethsemane was the place where Jesus was pressed down (depressed, oppressed, squeezed dry). Gethsemane actually means “oil press” – the place where the olives are subjected to pressure to separate the oil. The Garden was a quiet place, a place set apart. It was not a place where crowds were but rather one of loneliness, of aloneness. (This aloneness and loneliness were symptomatic of Jesus’ life: His friends would fall asleep when He most needed their support and prayer; even His Father would forsake Him in His time of greatest need and pain). The Garden is a place where God deals individually with a man. Jesus went to the Garden not as the Son of God, but as Jesus, the son of man. In v. 38 Jesus said: “ My soul is crushed with horror and sadness to the point of death.” It was not His spirit but His soul – His human self life – that was suffering. As a man, Jesus was confronted with the fact that He was going to have to undergo intense physical and emotional suffering and, as a man, he wished there was another way for God’s will to be accomplished. He questioned the necessity of this coming ordeal. He asked three times if it was God’s will that He suffer this way; couldn’t it be another way. Each time He asked His surrender went deeper. (Therefore, when we suffer, we should not feel guilty when we pass through a deep time of suffering and beseech the Father if there be another way. Jesus asked the same question). Still, Jesus entrusted Himself to the Father’s wisdom and knew that the Father would ultimately sustain Him.
Notice that Jesus is alone in the Garden – and on the cross. He had His three closest friends nearby so they provided some comfort with their presence. But even so, what He was going through, He had to go through alone. ( How often have we wondered at our “aloneness” when it seems so many others enjoy such good times, have so many friends, share so much happiness in which we are not able to take part. Jesus went to Gethsemane – the Garden – and to Golgatha – the cross – as a man. As a man He shrank from the cross, the intense physical suffering. He shrank from the separation from His friends and, most heart-breakingly, the separation from His Father. Yet He knew that He had to suffer and die as a man to fulfill God’s plan.
Throughout this passage in John 11 there is reference made to a cup:
John 18:11 New King James Version (NKJV)
11 So Jesus said to Peter…Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?”
The Barnes Commentary gives insight into the significance of the cup:
The figure is taken from a feast where the master of the feast extends a cup to those present. Thus God is represented as extending to His Son a cup filled with a bitter mixture – one causing deep suffering.
The knowledge of what this cup of suffering really is changes all our thinking. There is a feast waiting for us – the Marriage Supper of the Lamb Who suffered and was slain. As a preparation for that feast the Master of the feast extends to His honored guests the same cup His Son drank of – the cup of bitter and deep suffering. Remember, this cup is extended to the honored guests at the feast only; it is not given to the crowds and multitudes. Is this not then the real explanation of Philippians 3:10?
Philippians 3:10 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)
10 [For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death…
He was a Lamb Who suffered and, as the future Bride of that Suffering Lamb, we are asked to drink of that honored marriage cup. The suffering may be intense physical suffering or it may be the suffering of aloneness and dryness. Everyone else is getting blessed and healed, why not me?
There is, I think a cup of suffering tailor-made for each one of us: tailor-made by the Potter for each of His beloved, precious pieces of clay. As the Lord had Ananias say to Paul immediately following his conversion in Acts 9: 16 (NKJV)” For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake” so He will reveal to us what that cup is, and “ The cup which the Father has given me, shall I not drink it?” It is, after all, the cup for the honored guest, the Bride of the Lamb.
Let us all pray for each other that our faith fail not and that, when we pass through our Garden of Gethsemane and are tested, we, too, surrender so that not our will but His be done.
THE WISPY FEATHER AND THE HEAVY ROCK
Visual aids are helpful when attempting to convey an important point that will forever be embedded in people’s minds. For the following Bible study my husband built me an old-fashioned scale to demonstrate the difference in weight between a wispy feather and a heavy rock. It’s obvious which object won the contest. What I want you to notice are the “objects” the feather and the rock represented.
2 Corinthians 4:17 King James Version (KJV)
17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;
The Barnes Commentary goes into extensive detail to exquisitely convey the full import of the above verse lest we miss any of its significance:
The passage abounds with intensive and emphatic expressions, and manifests that the mind of the writer was laboring to convey ideas which language would very imperfectly communicate.
The trials which Paul endured, to many persons would have seemed to be anything else but light affliction. They consisted of want, danger, stoning, weariness, and constant exposure to death by land and by sea. Yet these trials though constituting his very life, he speaks of as the lightest conceivable thing when compared with that eternal glory which awaited him. He strives to get an expression as emphatic as possible, to show that in his estimation they were not worthy to be named in comparison with the eternal weight of glory. All this was a momentary trifle compared with the eternal glory before him.
Which is but for a moment – The Greek word used here occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It means “at this very instant; immediately.” The apostle evidently wished to express two ideas in as emphatic a manner as possible; first, that the affliction was light, and, secondly, that it was momentary, and soon passing away. His object is to contrast this with the glory that awaited him, as being heavy, and as being also eternal. (Editor note: shekinah, as in shekinah glory, means heavy).
Worketh for us – Will produce, will result in. The effect of these afflictions is to produce eternal glory. This they do:
(1)By their tendency to wean us from the world;
(2)To purify the heart, by enabling us to break off from the sins on account of which God afflicts us;
(3)By disposing us to look to God for consolation and support in our trials;
(4)By inducing us to contemplate the glories of the heavenly world, and thus winning us to seek heaven as our home; and,
(5)Because God has graciously promised to reward his people in heaven as the result of their bearing trials in this life.
A far more exceeding – There is not to be found any where a more energetic expression than this. In the New Testament it means excess, excellence, eminence. The phrase means exceedingly, supereminently, Romans 7:13; 1 Corinthians 12:31; 2 Corinthians 1:8; Galatians 1:13. This expression would have been by itself intensive in a high degree. But this was not sufficient to express Paul‘s sense of the glory which was laid up for Christians. It was not enough for him to use the ordinary highest expression for the superlative to denote the value of the object in his eye. He therefore coins an expression, and adds that it is not merely eminent; but it is eminent unto eminence; excess unto excess; a hyperbole unto hyperbole – one hyperbole heaped upon another; and the expression means that it is “exceeding exceedingly” glorious; glorious in the highest possible degree – Robinson. The expression is the Hebrew form of denoting the highest superlative; and it means that all hyperboles fail of expressing that eternal glory which remains for the just. It is infinite and boundless. You may pass from one degree to another; from one sublime height to another; but still an infinity remains beyond. Nothing can describe the uppermost height of that glory.
Eternal – This stands in contrast with the affliction that is for a moment. The one is momentary, transient; so short, even in the longest life, that it may be said to be an instant; the other has no limits to its duration. It is literally everlasting.
Weight – This stands opposed to the light affliction. That was so light that it was a trifle. It was easily borne. It was like the most light and airy object (wispy feather), which constitutes no burden. It is not even here called a burden, or said to be heavy in any degree (heavy rock-). This is so heavy as to be a burden…[because] the image is taken from gold or silver articles, that are solid and heavy …a robe heavy with gold, or a diadem or crown, heavy with gold or diamonds: glory so rich, so profuse as to be heavy. The affliction was light; but the crown, the robe, the adornings in the glorious world were not trifles, or baubles, but solid, substantial, weighty.
Of glory – ( δόξης doxēs). The Hebrew word denotes weight as well as glory. And perhaps Paul had that use of the word in his eye in this strong expression. It refers here to the splendor, magnificence, honor, and happiness of the eternal world. In this exceedingly interesting passage, which is worthy of the deepest study of Christians, Paul has set in most beautiful and emphatic contrast the trials of this life and the glories of heaven. It may be profitable to contemplate at a single glance the view which he had of them, that they may be brought distinctly before the mind.
The one is:
1.Affliction, Light , For a moment,The other is, by contrast,
(1)Glory,Weight , Eternal, Eminent, or excellent, Infinitely excellent, eminent in the highest degree.
So the account stands in the view of Paul. And with this balance in favor of the eternal glory, he regarded afflictions as mere trifles, and made it the grand purpose of his life to gain the glory of the heavens. What wise man, looking at the account, would not do likewise? (Condensed from the Barnes Commentary)
I’ve given you such a tiny glimpse of these thoughts. May I refer you to the Barnes Commentary on the internet so you can continue on to 2Corinthians 4:18 – 5:1 – 4 to expand your knowledge of this concept of the wispy weight of our oh-so-fleeting earthly burdens as compared to the gloriously eternal rewards of heaven. To me it was one more journey on the road to discovering that He was not only worthy – He is also worth anything this life offers, including its trials.
As a tribute to all those who have willingly laid down their lives for Him to do His will in all situations – I will close with this beautiful article. May it touch your heart as much as it touched mine.
SUFFERING – THE BEAUTY OF THE DANDELION
Sometimes I feel useless.
I once felt accomplished, serving others rather than needing to be served. I brought meals to people in need but now I can’t even make my own coffee, and sometimes my husband even helps me lift my cup. When Joel is out of town, someone needs to stay with me because I can no longer stay alone. Nothing seems easy anymore, and I look back on my days of independence with longing. At times, I feel I have little to offer.
I know in my head that usefulness isn’t what the Christian life is all about. God doesn’t need me, and I am not indispensable in the kingdom- none of us are. God delights in us, not because of anything we bring or do, but simply because we are his beloved children…(continue to site)
Barnes, Albert, and John Cumming. Notes, Explanatory and Practical, on the First and Second Epistles to the Corinthians, and the Epistle to the Galatians. G. Routledge, 1846.
Image works cited: https://dailyverses.net/2016/11/30