April 26, 2022 3:00 am
Sometimes life brings us to a sobering moment, a crisis, an agonizing decision, an inescapable admission and we wonder how we’re going to get through it. Today on A NEW BEGINNING, Pastor Greg Laurie points out that Jesus faced such a climactic moment. His crucifixion was hours away, His disciples had fallen asleep. He was left alone with His thoughts. But we’ll see He was actually left alone to commune with the Father. What Jesus did can help us navigate our Gethsemane moments.
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Learn more and sign up at harvest.org. That's the thing we need to pray in the Gethsemanes of life. Sometimes life brings us to a sobering moment, a crisis, an agonizing decision, an inescapable admission, and we wonder how we're going to get through it. Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie points out Jesus faced such a climactic moment. His crucifixion was hours away. His disciples had fallen asleep.
He was left along with his thoughts, though we'll see he was actually left alone to commune with the Father. What Jesus did can help us navigate our Gethsemane moments. Let's grab our Bibles and turn to two passages of Scripture. John chapter 18 and Luke 22. John 18 and Luke chapter 22.
We're in our series that we're calling Life, Studies, and the Gospel of John. And the title of my message is The Purpose in Gethsemane. And so here in the Garden of Gethsemane we see Jesus literally suffering. Suffering so badly that he's effectively sweating blood. This next to the cross was the lowest moment, most likely, in the life of Jesus.
It certainly was the loneliest moment of his life. And so there's something we need to say when we come to our personal Gethsemane. Something we need to say to God when we have those moments where things aren't making sense to us.
And I'm going to tell you what that thing is in just a few moments. But let's look now at what happened to Jesus as he went to the cross for each of us. John 18. I'm going to read verses 1 to 11.
I'd like you to read with me if you would please. And by the way I'm reading from the New Living Translation. After saying these things Jesus crossed the Kidron Valley with his disciples and entered a grove of olive trees. Judas the betrayer knew this place because Jesus had often gone there with his disciples. The leading priests and Pharisees had given Judas a contingent of Roman soldiers and temple guards to accompany him. Now with blazing torches, lanterns, and weapons they arrived at the olive grove. Jesus fully realized all that was going to happen to him.
You might underline that. And he stepped forward to meet them. And he asked, what are you looking for? They asked, Jesus of Nazareth. I am, said Jesus. And Judas had betrayed him was standing there. And Jesus said, I am.
And they all drew back and fell to the ground. And once more he asked them, who are you looking for? And again they replied, Jesus of Nazareth. And he says, verse 8, I told you that I am. And since I am the one you want let these others go. He did this to fulfill his own statement.
I did not lose a single one of those that you have given me. Then Simon Peter drew a sword and slashed off the right ear of Malchus the high priest's slave. But Jesus said to Peter, put your sword back into its sheath. Shall I not drink from the cup of suffering the Father has given me? We will stop there.
Wow. Powerful narrative isn't it? I don't think we understand how hard this was for Jesus. Over in Matthew 26 he said, my soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Mark's Gospel tells us of Jesus in Gethsemane. He fell to the ground and prayed, if it is possible let this cup pass from me. Evidently Jesus was in such agony he cast himself to the ground.
He would stand up and fall again to the ground in prayer. And in one of the most dramatic descriptions of the suffering of Jesus in Gethsemane Luke writes. Bringing us to Luke 22.
Hopefully you turn there. Verse 41. He was withdrawn from them about a stone's throw and he knelt down and prayed saying, Father if it is your will take this cup away from me nevertheless not my will but yours be done. Then an angel appeared from heaven strengthening him and being in agony he prayed more earnestly and then his sweat became like great drops of blood falling to the ground. By the way that is only mentioned by Luke. Did you know Luke was a physician?
So he brings a unique perspective in his Gospel. So Dr. Luke points out and uniquely only Dr. Luke that Jesus sweat as it were great drops of blood. There is a medical condition known as hematridrosis in which under great emotional pressure the tiny blood vessels rupture into the sweat glands producing a mixture of blood and sweat.
I think Dr. Luke I've talked to doctors about this by the way saying tell me about this hematridrosis and and it's a real thing not you don't see it very often but under intense pressure. So I think it's very possible that Jesus was experiencing this hematridrosis where he was literally sweating blood. It was so bad because he knew what was coming. He knew how hard this is going to be and by the way at this point Satan has already entered the heart of Judas Iscariot who is approaching.
And and what was really this temptation that would Jesus would face at this point? It would be to say forget this. I don't want to do it. I don't want to be out of fellowship with my father.
I don't want to drink this cup. But of course he said nevertheless not my will but yours be done. Let's go back to what we read already there in John 18. Remember the the crowd comes and Jesus asked the question who are you looking for? And they say Jesus of Nazareth and he says I am and they fell to the ground. So what's going on? Okay remember the phrase I am.
Ever heard it before? What did God say to Moses? Moses said what is your name? God says I am that I am.
I am. It's a claim of deity. God was saying I am.
There is no other. So when Jesus says I am it is also a claim to deity. Notice they all fell backwards. By the way this a group of soldiers. This is a lot of people. It's a temple police as well as a cohort of Roman soldiers.
This could have been as many as 600 people with swords and spears and lanterns and they're all coming in you know. Let's get Jesus. And Jesus says who you looking for? They say Jesus of Nazareth. He says I am and they all fell backwards.
All the lanterns going in the air the swords. That shows his power. This just shows he didn't have to go with him if he didn't want to.
He could have said I am and you were. Bye. Gone. End of problem. I am just to show his power.
These guys ran way over their heads. He could have called out and thousands of angels would have come to rescue him. In fact in John 10 he says my father loves me and I lay my life down that I may take it again and no one takes it from me. I lay it down of myself.
I have power to lay it down and power to take it again. No one was taking Jesus away. He was going of his own volition. Of his own will. And ultimately it was not nails that held him to the cross.
It was love. He could have gotten out of this so easily but of course he surrenders to the will of the father and they take him away. And Judas to identify him betrays him with a kiss.
Now I find this interesting. That Judas had to identify Jesus. Why did he have to identify Jesus? We know what Jesus looks like. He has a white robe. Right. Always.
We have seen all the paintings. White robes. Sometimes a blue sash. Blue sash.
Right. Sometimes he carries a staff around. I guess that is because he is a good shepherd. Sometimes he has a lamb wrapped around his neck. He has nice flowing blondish hair. Neatly trimmed beard.
Easy to find. Or maybe you know he glowed in the dark. Right. He is God in human form. But here is the interesting thing. Scripture says King James he had no form nor comeliness that we should desire him. Which is a way of saying he was an ordinary looking guy. I think if you walked to a crowd of people you wouldn't say there is Jesus. You know he wouldn't have stood out like that. Jim Caviezel played Jesus in the film The Passion of the Christ.
I remember I was at a Billy Graham crusade and I sat next to Jim. And you know this guy is very handsome, sculpted. I didn't even like him at all actually.
I didn't want to be around you. You are just so handsome. It bothers me. No but seriously he is just you know you think yeah he looks like Jim Caviezel.
Right. Or he looks like this actor. Well actually I don't think he would look like that.
He would be the most ordinary guy there. So much so that Judas has to identify him with a kiss. Why not a handshake? Why not a point? Like there he is.
Get him. Judas betrays him with a kiss. And here is an interesting twist. In the original language it could be stated he smothered him with kisses. Did you ever have an aunt like that? You know the one that comes to visit and they kiss you over and over again and it is gross kind of because their perfume is on you afterwards.
It is like you smell like your aunt for a day or whatever. Is it kissing kissing kissing kissing? That is how Judas betrayed Jesus. It wasn't a peck on the cheek or an air kiss. No it was like oh I love you so much. Kiss kiss kiss kiss.
Embrace kiss embrace. Man if I was Jesus I would have broken his neck. How dare you.
And you know what Jesus said to him? Friend why have you come? What? I would have said fiend. Why have you come? Or better yet I know why you have come.
No friend. Because you know what? To the very end Jesus loved Judas.
And you know what? Judas was the friend of Jesus who happened to betray him. And at the last moment Jesus was giving to Judas one last chance to repent.
Almost saying buddy I know what is happening. And I am saying right now you can repent and not do this. But Judas of course was determined because we already pointed out Satan had entered his heart. You have heard of being demon possessed. Judas was Satan possessed. Satan came into him. And of course he opened the door to that. And there is no way he was going to change his plans at this point. So the irony is at the moment of his betrayal he still wanted to appear devout.
It was the worst kind of hypocrisy imaginable. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. You know there is nothing like hearing the word of God and worshiping the Lord together. I want to encourage you to join us for something we call Harvest at Home. It happens every Saturday and Sunday at Harvest.org. You can join Christians literally from around the world as we worship and we study the word of God together.
So join us for Harvest at Home at Harvest.org. Well as Pastor Greg picks up his message called The Purpose of Gethsemane, Judas had just betrayed Jesus to the dismay of Simon Peter. Let's continue now. Simon Peter is so mad. He's watching Judas is scary.
I can't believe you did this. And so this is what happens. We already read it. Verse 10, Simon Peter we are back in John 18, drew a sword, slashed off the right ear of Malchus, the high priest's slave. Jesus said to Peter, put your sword back in its sheath.
Shall I not drink of the cup of suffering the Father has given me? Now on one hand we may want to commend Peter for this act of bravery. But Jesus didn't say to Peter, put the sword away.
Poor Peter. He just couldn't get it right. He was boasting when he should have been listening. He was sleeping when he should have been praying. Now he's fighting when he should have been surrendering.
He seemed to be an emotional man. And in effect Peter was potentially playing right into the hand of the enemy. I mean thanks to Peter's impulsive violence the authorities could now claim there's some kind of rebel uprising led by some guerrilla leader known as The Rock. We've heard him called The Rock and he pulled out his sword and and cut off Malchus's ear and he had two guys next to him called The Sons of Thunder.
Looked like they're from an outlaw motorcycle game. Well that's what Peter was doing. You know he's trying to fix things and Jesus says according to Matthew's gospel, those who use the sword will be killed by the sword. Don't you realize that I could ask my father for thousands of angels to protect us and he would send them instantly. Peter buddy listen I appreciate it but if I needed help I'll call for the angels and they'll take care of this in short order. So put that sword away.
Peter made a lot of mistakes. He was fighting the wrong enemy with the wrong weapon. You know the Bible reminds us that we're in a spiritual battle and the weapons of our warfare are not physical but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds. What are the most effective weapons if you will.
We could also call them tools that we have in our arsenal as followers of Jesus. Protest and boycott. I don't know. Sometimes I think when we boycott things we help them more than hurt them. So I'm not so sure about boycotts in general. I'm not a big boycott guy. Protesting I guess there's a place for it at times.
How about this. Register and vote. That's very important.
I think we should all register and I think we should all vote. We should be educated on the issues. But the two secret weapons God has given to us as the church are rarely used.
And you know what they are. Their prayer and proclamation of the gospel. We need to do a whole lot more of that. Praying. When crisis comes praying.
When we have a need. Praying and proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. So old Peter cuts this guy's ear off and Jesus stops him.
And here's something that's often missed. Jesus healed Malchus's ear. Malchus was servant to the high priest. Having his ear cut off implies to me he probably was leading the charge. Follow me guys.
Let's go. And boy he walks right into the sword of Simon Peter. Peter was probably trying to cut his head off but he got his ear. He was a fisherman not a swordsman right. But the last miracle that Jesus performed when he was on this earth was the healing of Malchus's ear.
Can you imagine that. Here's a guy that just cut his ear off and he heals him. Probably picked the ear back up.
Put it on there. Heals him. I wonder if Malchus even thanked him for it.
I doubt it. But that just shows the heart of our Lord. That he would do something like this for a guy like this. And as he hangs on the cross what does he say? Father forgive them for they know not what they do. So in closing as we look at this remember the Bible says in Philippians let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus. And he prayed not my will but yours be done. That's the thing we need to pray in the Gethsemanes of life. If you're in a time in your life where you don't understand why this has happened to you. And I could describe many scenarios.
Why did this happen? You can just say Lord I don't get it but I say not my will but yours be done. D.L. Moody one of the great preachers from days gone by made this statement and I quote spread out your petition before God and then say thy will not mine be done. Moody says the sweetest lesson I've learned in God's school is to let the Lord choose for me. Let the Lord choose.
He'll make a better choice than you will make because he has all the background information. Maybe there was a relationship. That guy.
That girl. You thought you'd found the one. You were so excited and it just unraveled and you're kind of mad at God. Why did you not let that work out? Probably because God loves you and he knows the big picture. Why didn't this job open up?
I knew that was my career path. Lord shut the door. Well if he shut the door there he's going to open the door somewhere else. So if you're in front of a shut door or a broken relationship or a disappointment or some of the thing you're facing in life God's still in control.
Coming back to what I said earlier. He loves you and he has a plan and of course the father had a plan. This was going to be the worst sacrifice in human history but the plan was we were all going to have our salvation purchased for us at the cross of Calvary.
I read a poem and by the way I don't read many poems but I read this one and I liked it and I'll quote from it. All those who journey soon or late must pass within the garden's gate. Must kneel alone in darkness there and battle with some fierce despair. God pity those who cannot say not mine but thine. Who only pray let this cup pass and cannot see the purpose in Gethsemane.
End quote. There's a purpose in your Gethsemane. God has a plan and whatever it is you're going through. I'm not going through a Gethsemane. Well you will eventually.
You will eventually. So just store these thoughts up for when that moment happens and Jesus said if you will lose your life for my sake you'll find it which means I just say all right Lord here's my life here's my future here's my plans but if you have another idea in mind I want your plan over my own and here's what Jesus has done for each of us. Have you ever wondered why Jesus went to the cross?
I mean think about it. He's denied by Simon Peter. He's betrayed by Judas Iscariot. He is jeered at by the multitudes that he came to save. By and large he was alone at Calvary. His mother Mary was there. John was there but for the most part the disciples were far away or in hiding and yet he went through with it. He picked that cross up and carried it through the streets of Jerusalem falling beneath its weight. His back ripped open by a Roman whip in excruciating pain but he kept going.
Why did he keep going? The answer is found in the book of Hebrews chapter 12. It says Jesus Christ for the joy that was set before him endured the cross despising the shame and now is set down at the right hand of God. The joy that was set before him.
What is that? It's not what it's who. It's you. He did it for you. I love the way that the apostle Paul personalized it when he said he loved me and he gave himself for me. Why did Jesus sign on the cross?
Listen for you. Oh yes the whole world. The whole world. For God so loved the world he gave his only begotten son.
Take out the word world and insert your name there. This is personal. Christ died for you. Jesus shed his blood for you because he knew there was no other way that you could be made right with God.
So he did this out of love for each of you. So we're going to pray in a moment. I'm going to extend an invitation for you to believe in Jesus if you haven't done that yet.
An opportunity for you to be forgiven of your sin and also an opportunity to repent of your sin if there's something you've been doing or you've done that you know you need to turn from and ask God to forgive you for. So let's all bow our heads. Father thank you for loving us so much and sending Jesus and Lord Jesus thank you for coming. And now we pray that your Holy Spirit will convict and convince every person here. Every person listening of their need for you and help them to come to you and believe. In Jesus' name I pray.
Amen. Pastor Greg Laurie with an important word of prayer. And if you'd like to make a change today in your relationship with the Lord, Pastor Greg would like to help you with that and he'll do so before today's edition of A New Beginning concludes. Well Pastor Greg we have a special guest here in the studio.
Maybe you can introduce him. Sure. But his new book is about the afterlife.
Yeah. Let me ask you first of all why do you think we're so fascinated about heaven and the afterlife? Well we should be because it's if you're a Christian your future destination. It is not the default destination for every person of course.
We decide in this life where we will spend the afterlife. But I think it's a really good thing to know as much as we possibly can about heaven. And I can't think of a better person to help us understand it more than the man sitting next to me right now and unfortunately it's radio so you can't see but he's wearing a very nice blue sweater and his name is Lee Strobel. Now Lee Strobel has written a lot of books. Probably the best known would be The Case for Christ which was also made into a feature film. His books have sold like 14 million right?
Right. And it and he's just a prolific author, speaker, apologist, extraordinaire and these are just the things he's asked me to say. So I think no he didn't ask me to say any of this but Lee's a good friend and he's a he's a voice of wisdom and so Lee you've written a new book The Case for Heaven subtitled A Journalist Investigates Evidence for Life After Death. Why a book about heaven? Well I think you're right in what you said that people ought to be interested in the afterlife. We're going to spend a lot more time there than we will here and I think in light of the pandemic you know people are conscious and aware of life and death issues more than perhaps any other time in my lifetime.
I was having lunch with my wife at a restaurant and this waitress was about 18 years old and we were talking and she started to cry and we said what's wrong? She said oh I'm sorry I almost didn't come into work today we just lost a family member to COVID and I thought here's a young person maybe 18 years old probably never thought about life and death probably never thought about the afterlife but now she's full of questions now she's this you know death has come knocking on her family door so I think people are more and more interested these days in the question of what what actually occurs when we close our eyes for the last time in this world. This is something we need to understand more the afterlife what happens what happens to the Christian what happens to the non-Christian here's some of the chapter titles Near Death Experiences Heaven a Guide on the Edge of Eternity so if you want to clear up your confusion about heaven the afterlife you want to get a copy of this brand new book from Lee Strobel it's called The Case for Heaven. We'll send it to you for your gift of any size to us here at A New Beginning and we'll use those resources to reach more people with the gospel and the teaching of the word of God and as our way of saying thanks we'll send you your own copy of The Case for Heaven by apologist prolific author and my friend Lee Strobel. And we'll only be able to mention this resource a short time longer so get in touch as soon as possible you can call us at 1-800-821-3300 call anytime 24 7 that's 1-800-821-3300 or go online to harvest.org. Pastor Greg you spoke today about having a relationship with the Lord yeah someone can enter into that kind of relationship with God right now can't they yeah they really can that's the amazing thing I think people are surprised that it doesn't take years to become a Christian it doesn't take months it doesn't take weeks it doesn't take days it doesn't even take hours you can believe on the spot and I would like to lead you in a prayer where you can ask for his forgiveness a prayer where you can receive Jesus Christ into your life as your Savior and Lord so if you want Christ to come into your life if you want him to forgive you of your sin if you want a second chance in life if you want to go to heaven when you die stop what you're doing and pray after me these words Lord Jesus I know I am a sinner and I'm sorry for my sin and I turn from it now and I choose to follow you from this moment forward as Savior and Lord as God and friend thank you for loving me and calling me and forgiving me in Jesus name I pray amen amen and listen if you have just prayed those words with Pastor Greg and meant them sincerely the Lord has heard you and forgiven you of your sin the Bible says Jesus is faithful and just to forgive us of our sin and cleanses from all unrighteousness and we'd like to send you some materials to help you begin to live this new life we call it our new believers growth packet just ask for it and we'll send it to you free of any charge if you prayed for the first time today with Pastor Greg you can call 1-800-821-3300 that's 1-800-821-3300 or go online to harvest.org and click on know God well next time as Pastor Greg continues his series in John's gospel we'll examine an important case study of one of the disciples who experienced a tremendous spiritual failure we'll learn from his mistakes join us here on A New Beginning with pastor and Bible feature Greg Laurie. Hey everybody thanks for listening to A New Beginning this is a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners so for more content that can help you know God and equip you to make him known to others or to learn more about how you can become a Harvest Partner just go to harvest.org
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