Hey everybody, you're listening to A New Beginning, which is a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners.
If this program has impacted you, I'd love to hear from you. So just send an email to me at greg.harvest.org. Again, it's greg.harvest.org.
You can learn more about becoming a Harvest Partner by going to harvest.org. Coming up today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie brings us a message from the Gospel of John called The Purpose of Gethsemane. You know the way we all sort of face Gethsemanes in life? And by that I mean times when it seems like the whole world is closing in on us. Times of ultimate stress.
You know, when you don't understand what's happening to you, always fall back on what you do understand. I hope you understand and believe that God has a plan for your life. This is the day when the lost are found. This is the day for a new beginning. Amazing grace, how sweet the sound. Again you hear all the angels are singing. This is the day, the day when life begins. Some come to the Lord thinking the Christian life is smooth sailing, never a cloud in the sky, never a rogue wave to rock our boat.
That's a faulty assumption. The Lord doesn't promise perfect weather. He walks with us in the midst of the storms. And today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie shows us how we can be ready for those times of challenge.
We'll see how to prepare for extreme challenges by following the example of Jesus himself as he faced an extreme challenge. Have you ever felt cut off? Have you ever felt as though your friends abandoned you or that you were completely misunderstood? Have you ever been extremely lonely? Maybe even when surrounded by people.
Maybe even now. If so you have a faint idea of what Jesus Christ went through as he agonized in the Garden of Gethsemane. You know the way we all sort of face Gethsemanes in life. And by that I mean times when it seems like the whole world is closing in on us. Times of ultimate stress in which the cup that we are supposed to drink seems to be too much to bear. When we feel like we can't go on another day.
Maybe that's even describing someone listening to me right now. You're in your personal Gethsemane. Well Jesus here in the verses before us shows us what to do in times of uncertainty. Look we cannot always know the will of God in every given situation. And then there are times we know the will of God and frankly we don't like it. And there are other times when we know the will of God and it frankly doesn't make any sense. I think if you interviewed Joseph when he was in prison on false charges after being accused of rape by Potiphar's wife he would say this is making no sense to me. If you interviewed Job right after all that affliction came upon him he would probably say this isn't making a lot of sense to me right now.
And maybe you're at that in between stage in life. But listen to this. We must never be afraid to place an unknown future into the hands of a known God. You know when you don't understand what's happening to you always fall back on what you do understand. And here's what I hope you understand or at least what you believe. I hope you understand and believe that God loves you. I hope you understand and believe that God has a plan for your life. I hope that you know and understand that God is not surprised by anything that has come in your life. It is as my friend Randy Alcorn likes to say father filtered. Father filtered.
What does that mean? It means either God did it or God allowed it. Either God did it or God allowed it. And so here we see what is happening to Jesus as he is facing the future. Now here's the difference between there's so many differences between Jesus and us but here's one obvious one. He was God in human form and he knew the future. I don't know about you but I would not necessarily want to know the future.
Nor would I want to know what everyone really thinks about me. And Jesus did by the way. He'd even call people out on it. Hey why are you thinking this in your mind right now? And they're like how do you know? Because he's God.
That would be very disillusioning to have someone complimenting you when you really see what they're thinking about you right. 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 know this Jesus was the loneliest man who ever lived. You say well how is that possible? Well because he for a time was separated from the father as he bore the sin of the world causing him to cry my God my God why have you forsaken me?
So just know if you're lonely you're not alone. And Jesus knows what it's like to go through that because as I said well I'll go through those personal Gethsemanes in life when things are not making sense. And so let's look now at what happened to Jesus as he went to the cross for each of us. You know the Garden of Gethsemane it's fascinating because some significant things happen in gardens in the Bible. In the Garden of Eden man sinned. In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus conquered sin. In the Garden of Eden Adam hid himself. In the Garden of Gethsemane our Lord boldly presented himself. In the Garden of Eden the sword was drawn. In the Garden of Gethsemane the sword was sheathed. And so at this point chronologically in our studies in John Jesus has preached his last sermon.
He's had his last meal. And he has also prayed a beautiful prayer that we looked at last time from John chapter 17 where he prayed for us. Now we come to 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 the 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. So there is a gap between verses 1 and 2. It is filled in by accounts from the other gospels. Matthew tells us at this point that Jesus said to Peter, James, and John stay here and watch with me. Peter, James, and John they spent a lot of time with Jesus apart from the others. When Jesus raised the daughter of Jairus from the dead he took Peter, James, and John in there with him. When Jesus was transfigured on the mount there remember he took Peter, James, and John with him. And now here in the Garden of Gethsemane again it is Peter, James, and John.
So we think oh they were like you know the Lord's favorites right. Maybe. And maybe they were special needs children.
I don't know you know. And understand what I am saying. When I was in school I was always getting into trouble. And my teacher on more than one occasion would say, Greg Laurie bring your desk right up here right next to mine. Because I was always fidgeting and bugging people and talking when the teacher was talking. The teacher wanted me close to keep her eye or his eye on me. I just came across one of my old report cards the other day and it was it was so disappointing what the teacher said to me. You know Greg spends too much time drawing cartoons and looking out the window.
He's never going to amount to anything. Thank you for those hopeful words. But it was basically true. So the teacher would maybe bring you closer so they could keep an eye on you. Could that be the case with Peter, James, and John? I know we love to put the apostles on pedestals.
But come on. The more we learn about Peter and we'll see this next time. Man he he messed up many times.
His faux pas are legendary. And James and John give me a break. These guys were not called the sons of thunder for nothing. If they were alive today they would be outlaw motorcycle guys. You know these guys were trouble.
You say what are you talking about. Well on one occasion they got angry with certain people in a town that weren't responsive to what Jesus said. And they said, Lord shall we call fire down from heaven on them like Elijah did. Jesus is like, oy vey.
What is. He says you don't know what kind of spiritual of. I came to save lives not toast them. That's a loose paraphrase by the way. But that's exactly what Jesus was saying. And so he says you guys come here I want to keep my eye on you.
Stay here and watch with me. What an honor to be asked by Jesus to be with him at this crucial moment of his life. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. We send these daily studies out via radio satellite and our podcasts. And we don't always know how these messages are touching lives.
But when we hear the stories of our listeners' heartaches and regrets, we're encouraged to know the impact on people's lives. I have about a 45 minute commute to and from work and I listen to Pastor Greg Laurie's podcast. I just finished listening to one of the sermons from the series, Let's Talk About Heaven.
And I had an abortion back in 2010. And it's been a long journey of healing. And when I finally came to the realization that the safest place is to be at the foot of the cross, I was able to fully experience mercy and grace and love that the Lord has for me. And I just wanted to say thank you Pastor Greg for the sermon series. And I'm getting a little emotional because what a day that will be to not only be reunited with my baby, but to be united with Jesus Christ.
I just want to say thank you. What a powerful story of God's forgiveness. Do you have a story to tell of how Pastor Greg's studies and God's word have helped you? If so, why not call and share it with us? Just call 1-866-871-1144.
Again, 866-871-1144. Well, Pastor Greg is presenting a message today called The Purpose of Gethsemane. And in our text, Jesus had just asked Peter, James, and John to stay with him the night before his crucifixion. Notice he did not say, explain this to me. Because Jesus did not need an explanation. He didn't say preach to me because Jesus did not need to hear a sermon.
He just said stay with me. You say, but why? Because he was lonely. Because he was in agony. Because he was in pain. And he just wanted someone there with him.
Here's what you need to know about Jesus. Here's what you need to know about someone you know who's suffering. Maybe they found out they have cancer. Maybe they just lost a loved one.
Maybe something traumatic has happened to them. And you say, I want to go help them. Sometimes the best thing to say is nothing.
It's nothing. Because a lot of times in our attempts to comfort, we can actually make it harder for a person. Because we don't know what it's like. You'll say, well, I know what you're going through. It's crazy what people will say.
Trust me when I tell you this. When you lose a loved one, I've had people say, well, I know what it's like. My grandmother died.
Well, I'm sure that's very hard. But losing a grandmother is not the same as losing a child. So don't say I know what you're going through. Just say, I'm sorry this happened. I have a friend who, their child died. And someone literally came up and said, I know what you're going through.
Our dog just died. Really? You would have been so much better if you actually said nothing than to say something like that. People don't always need an explanation. And in fact, you probably don't know what's going on with them anyway.
But here's what they can use a lot of times. Just a friend. Someone to just say, man, I'm so sorry this happened to you. I don't know why this is happening to you. But I want you to know I'm here for you. And I'll be praying for you.
And is there anything I can do for you? That's really all Jesus was asking for. Remember the story of Job? All that tragedy befell him. And we read that his friends came to visit him, three of them.
He was covered in boils, head to toe, scraping himself with a fragment of broken pottery. And they were so stunned, they just wept with him and sat with him for seven days without saying a word. And you know what?
That was a perfect thing to do. Just be with Job. In fact, when they started talking is when the trouble began. So just being with people. Because people will say things that are supposed to help. Like I know how you feel when maybe you don't. Or well, there's a reason for everything. Not a really good thing to say to a person.
But there's always someone worse off than you. Really? Is that supposed to help people say things like this?
Or how about this one? You know what? When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. You know what?
Not only is that not biblical, it's just lame. Don't say that. Well you know when the going gets tough, shut up. Don't finish it. Just don't. Please.
Don't quote song titles to me. Just be there. Don't worry. Be happy.
Okay now I'm going to kill you. Maybe with lemons. I don't know.
Just being there. Jesus was in agony. 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 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. Again Jesus being God knew the future in vivid detail. He knew he would be denied by the one he had perhaps invested the most in.
Simon Peter. He knew he would be the object of Peter's shame and the cause of his cursing. He knew that he would be rejected by his own people Israel that he came to save. As Scripture says he came into his own and his own received him not. He had wept over their unbelief.
Now he would witness it in full force. He knew that the disciple whom he loved was about to betray him with a kiss. Judas Iscariot.
He knew he would be tried in their kangaroo court of injustice and subjected to unfair treatment. Ironically all in the name of God. And the worst of all Jesus who had been in constant communion with the father and the Holy Spirit now would have to bear all the sin of the world past present and future. And that is why Jesus said if it's possible take this cup away from me.
If there's any other way please let's find it. But of course there was no other way. He who was holy righteous and pure would have to take upon himself everything that was unholy unrighteous and impure. And everything in his 30 short years on earth was effectively building to this event. He knew it was coming. In fact he began to aggressively address it at a place called Caesarea Philippi. And there in Matthew 16 we read from then on Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that he had to go to Jerusalem. He told them what would happen to him. He would suffer at the hands of the leaders and the leading priests. He would be killed and raised again on the third day.
Man that's pretty clear isn't it? Guys listen very carefully. I'm going to be betrayed. I'm going to be tried on false charges before the religious leaders.
I'm going to be killed and I'll rise again on the third day. They're like uh what? It's funny it just kind of went over their heads.
They didn't seem to get it. But he was being very clear as to what was going to come down. And he came to taste death for everyone according to Hebrews 2.9.
Alfred Edersheim a Bible commentator made this statement and I quote, he disarmed death burying its shaft in his own heart and thereby death had no more arrows. End quote. Now Mark gives us a little interesting detail. Mark's gospel. He says as Jesus is in Gethsemane he says Abba father.
We don't want to miss that. Because Abba father is sort of the Hebrew equivalent of saying daddy. If you go to Israel today you'll see the little children calling out to their daddies Abba Abba or to mom Ima. So it's that's the affectionate cry of a Hebrew child. It's not just father.
Father dearest it's daddy. And so Jesus says Abba father there in the garden and there was this cup. What was this cup? He didn't want to drink.
Isaiah calls it the cup of his fury. Have you ever tasted anything that just turned your stomach? Maybe taken a big gulp and then spit it out again. The other day Kathy found like chocolate milk on the floor in our house. She's saying where did this chocolate milk come from? It's just there and there was like a cushion on top of it. How did this happen?
Very suspicious. So she asked the grandkids did any of you spill chocolate milk? No.
No we didn't. And so she went to Christopher our grandson said did you spill chocolate milk? No.
No. And then he said but maybe a little boy drank some chocolate milk and it was spoiled and so he spit it out. Oh maybe. And maybe he says he put a cushion on top of it to cover it up. It's like a confession but not totally right.
But I love that. I think what happened was there was some chocolate milk in our fridge from a decade ago. Now I don't know how old it was but apparently he took a drink and it was bad. It's spoiled.
You know see if you've ever done that big gulp this is bad right? Well Jesus has to drink this cup. What is this cup?
Listen it's the cup of the wrath of God. We're midway through this important study called the purpose of Gethsemane and Pastor Greg Laurie will have more insight for us on the pressure that was on Jesus the night before his crucifixion. We're learning how to respond to our own times of pressure and Pastor Greg will have a final comment from today's study before this edition of A New Beginning concludes. Well it's such a privilege to have best-selling author Lee Strobel with us today. He's a former atheist and the former legal editor of the Chicago Tribune. In 1981 he gave his heart to Christ and for over 40 years has been telling people about the Lord and his new book is called The Case for Heaven. So Lee now you're still though you know you still have a great mind you're still an intellectual you're but you're a theologian now too so you've brought these skills to the study of heaven and I think it's hard for people to wrap their mind around heaven and there's caricatures of it in films uh you know like it's a wonderful life people watch it every Christmas or or even cartoons or songs and art yeah you know so give us a few thoughts about maybe something you learned about heaven that you didn't know before yeah or something that impacted you about uh the afterlife yeah a couple of things I think that um when you look at Jesus and what he talked about when he talked about heaven he he painted the picture to his disciples of heaven being a home and so it made me think you know um like you I've traveled around the world and often in very difficult situations I remember being in India and uh you know sleeping on the ground and living out of a knapsack and and uh missing home you get homesick you begin to long for home and uh and then when you finally get home it's you know weeks and months later you finally get home and you walk in the door and it's such a place of warmth and love and security and you get in your own bed and it feels so good and I think Jesus said that's the image I want you to keep in your life heaven is our home and and and those qualities of love and security and grace and so um when we think of home we ought to think of those things when we think of heaven uh and somebody else said something to me something recently that I thought was really kind of profound he said you know heaven is kind of like having a vacation on your calendar I said what do you mean by that he said you know when things are hard at work when when you're working long hours and customers are difficult and your boss isn't breathing down your neck and the money's not coming in and things are hard when you've got a vacation on your calendar coming up in a few months and you go you know what I'm going to Hawaii I'm going to Maui in a couple of months with my wife and and just knowing that's on the calendar helps you get through the tough times and heaven is like that it's like having something on the calendar we don't know the date but in our in our future that we can help us get past the difficult times in this life because we say yeah it is hard it is difficult but you know what I'm going to heaven and it's going to be wonderful and beautiful like a home like I've never experienced it and just having that in the future I think gives us courage and gives us perspective in dealing with the present yeah that's Lee Strobel you're hearing from everyone and he has a brand new book out called the case for heaven subtitled a journalist investigates evidence for life after death and we're sending it to you for your gift of any size this month yeah that's right and your gift enables us to keep bringing pastor Greg studies your way and they also help us reach out far and wide with the gospel you can donate today by calling 1-800-821-3300 that's a 24-hour phone number 1-800-821-3300 or write a new beginning box 4000 riverside california 92514 or go online to harvest.org and by the way if you're not receiving pastor Greg's daily devotions in your email box you can start today they're free of charge and there's an audio version of each day's devotion for your convenience as well to sign up just go to harvest.org next time more from pastor Greg's message the purpose of Gethsemane but before we go pastor Greg comes back to close this way years ago I was um I was in the Philippines speaking and anybody here from the Philippines okay anybody okay you're coming do you know what a balut is basically a balut is a duck egg which means it's bigger and um and the duck is partially formed in the balut there's like the little feathers and the beak but it's sort of soft so it's a partially formed duck with egg in it sort of part egg part partially formed duck with this brown fluid so the idea is you crack the egg and you eat it uh so I was there speaking and they said to me you know Greg this is part of our culture we love the balut and we would love you to eat this I and it would be culturally insensitive you if you didn't eat it they said and I whispered in their ear it'll be more culturally offensive if I eat it and throw up because that's what will happen I'm just saying so I never ate it I'm sorry to say but uh just some things you know appeal to some people other things appeal to others but then when you eat something that's repulsive you don't want it in your mouth right well Jesus has to drink this cup every vile and perverse sin of humanity he was now going to bear he did it for you a new beginning is a podcast made possible by harvest partners helping people everywhere know God if this show has impacted your life share your story leave a review on your favorite podcast app and help others find hope you
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