September 13, 2015
By John Ulrich, Senior Pastor
After Peter announced that Jesus was truly “the Christ” (Mark 8:28), the world began switching to negative, and Jesus’ walk to the Cross began. In Mark 14:32-42, Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane where He experienced the spiritual weight of what was involved in His approaching death.
At Gethsemane, Jesus “began to be deeply distressed and troubled” and said His soul was “overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” (Mark 8:33,34). In His pain and sorrow, Jesus “fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from Him” (Mark 8:35).
“Take this cup from me,” pleaded Jesus to His Father (Mark 14:36). Jesus even used an Old Testament comparison that this hour was like a “cup” which Isaiah had described as a cup full of God’s wrath at men’s sin and rebellion, making men stagger when they drank it (Isaiah 51:17-23). The Son of God recognized that He would bear God’s judgment for all of the sin of mankind; His assigned purpose on earth was to drink the cup of wrath for each of us. And as a mortal man seeing the pain ahead, He asked the Father to cancel the hour.
Jesus prayed and His Father said “No,” which was recognized by Jesus when He said “The hour has come…The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners” (Mark 14:41).[At this point in the service, Clark (pastor of students) and Laura Rinehart shared how they had recently experienced unanswered prayer in their married lives, and their anticipation of God’s larger plan for them.
Pastor Ulrich then continued his sermon, emphasizing that it is important for all of us to understand why Jesus’ prayer was not answered positively so that we can better understand our own unanswered prayers.]
What did not cause Jesus’ prayer to go unanswered?
- It was not because Jesus did not pray.
He was praying here in Gethsemane.
- It was not that Jesus prayed wrongly.
There was complete faith, with no sin in His life.
- It was not that God could not do it.
Jesus said, “Everything is possible for You” (Mark 14:36)
- It was not that the Father did not love Jesus.
“Abba Father” expressed an especially close relationship to the Father (Mark 14:36). We cannot comprehend the love between Father and Son who are together for all eternity (past, present, and future).
Jesus died simply because He placed Himself in the hands of His Father’s will: “Yet not what I will, but what You will” (Mark 14:36).
The Father was doing ever so much more than Jesus’ request to keep from suffering. According to the Father’s plan, Jesus came to die on the Cross for all of our sins, which made it necessary for Him to deny Jesus’ prayer. God’s plan was larger than convenience, comfort, or even justice. The Father, through Jesus’ death and resurrection, offered grace, forgiveness, and the hope of eternal life to all mankind.
Questions to Ask:
- Did Jesus Christ partake of that cup for you, so that you could be forgiven and have eternity with God?
The Father said “No” to Jesus so that He could say “Yes” to us if we believe that He died in our place. There is enough grace in Jesus’ death to forgive every possible sin in our lives. No need to strive. It is done.
- Where is God calling you to follow the pattern/example of Jesus Christ?
God asks each follower of His to be willing to suffer (even if unfairly) for the sake of His plan, to drink the cup. Sometimes we are called to go through difficulty with no resolution this side of the grave. Our lives belong to God who has bigger plans than we humans can imagine.
May we as Christians show deepest gratitude for Jesus giving His life for us. May we lean into and submit to the Father’s greater plans for our lives. May we be open to glimpses of the goodness and beauty in what He is doing in our lives and in the world.