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Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew
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March 26, 2023 7:00 pm


Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew

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March 26, 2023 7:00 pm

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If you have your Bibles with you, turn with me if you would to Mark chapter 14.

We're going to be looking at verses 32 through 42 verse 32. And again, we know he went away and prayed saying the same words. And again, he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy.

They did not know what to answer him. He came the third time and said to them, Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough. The hour has come. Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going.

See my betrayer is at hand. Let us bow with me as we go to our Lord in prayer. Heavenly Father, I pray for Megan Pearsall this morning.

Help her in the birth process. May her baby girl be strong and healthy and may Megan give birth with no problems. We pray for Nick her husband whose leg is broken and healing we pray for healing for him. Although we pray for Jeremy Carriker and Jim Belkin, Elsie Camaro, for Nicole Lowe's pray for john and Shelby key who are here with us today.

Pray for Fran Ruisi would help them all to heal. Heavenly Father, as I studied this passage this week, I felt like I was on an emotional roller coaster. The picture of our Lord Jesus on his knees in Gethsemane brought tears to my eyes.

He prayed as no man has ever prayed before. Jesus knew what he was facing. He was facing the cross, where he would become sin for us. And God the Father would pour out his wrath on Jesus. And Jesus would literally suffer our hell for us to consider the spiritual, physical, mental and emotional pain that Jesus had to endure makes me literally shudder. But Jesus did it. The victory was won by Jesus on his knees in the Garden of Gethsemane. And it was paid for the next day at the cross. That makes us want to cry. Also makes us want to shout for joy, all at the same time. Father, help me to be clear this morning, so that Gethsemane may grip our hearts, for it is in the precious, holy name of Jesus that we pray. Amen.

You may be seated. To the east of the city of Jerusalem, there's a little mountain called the Mount of Olives. It's about 300 feet taller than the city of Jerusalem.

And it's only about a mile in length. On the western slope of that mountain, there's a little garden. Call it the Garden of Gethsemane. In that garden, there is a plethora of olive trees, olive wood, some of the hardest wood in the world. And the olive tree has a life expectancy about the same as the California redwood. Eight of the trees that are in the Garden of Gethsemane today were standing there 2,000 years ago when Jesus was praying in that garden. Not only are they still standing there, they are still producing olives. In the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus was, there was an olive press.

Let me share with you how it looks. At the bottom of that olive press, there's a round stone that's flat and has a hole in the middle. They put bottles up underneath it. And all the way around that round stone, they put ridges in it that start off very shallow and get deeper and deeper and deeper until it goes to the middle. Then they take olives they place all over that bottom stone. Then they take a stone that is right above it held on by a rope, a huge flat stone, and it's lowered down on the bottom stone. And when that happens, those olives are totally crushed and the olive oil slips down into the ridges and goes all the way down and is collected in the bottle beneath. Gethsemane means olive press.

It means crushed. And folks, when Jesus was praying, he was absolutely crushed by the sorrow that was in his heart over what was going to take place. Folks, this was a spot where Jesus prayed often.

It was beautiful, it was private, and it was very quiet. And to get from Jerusalem, to get over to the Mount of Olives, you would have to cross over the brook Kidron. This was Passover season. And when Passover season would take place, there were so many Passover lambs that were slain that the Kidron brook was filled up with Passover lamb blood, and it turned just crimson red.

I have to believe that when Jesus stepped over that, at this Passover season, and he started walking up, all you could think of was this Passover lamb blood that's in the Kidron brook right now will just a few hours be my own blood. I read an article a while back about an atheist who was questioning the manhood of Jesus, because Jesus asked his father that if it were possible, that this cup might pass from him. And he stated that Jesus was wavering in the face of death, and that showed weakness. He said there were others that have not wavered in the face of death, like gladiators that would go out to face an opponent knowing that one of them was going to die, and they did it with boldness. And then like soldiers who were headed into charging against their enemy, where the enemy had greatly outnumbered them, and they went ahead and they fought anyway knowing that they were going to die. He said those people were tougher and more rugged than was the Lord Jesus Christ.

Folks, that's a good illustration of why atheists ought to keep their mouths shut. It was not physical death that Jesus was concerned about here. It was much more than that.

Something much deeper than physical death. It was the wrath of God that was going to come upon him. And it was going to come upon him like no one had ever experienced before, and like no one will ever experience again. If you have doubts about the courage or the bravery or the heart of Jesus, I want you to buckle up your pew belt this morning, because we are looking at a passage that should absolutely convince you that there has never been anyone that is braver, more courageous, or more loving than the person of Jesus Christ.

And what he did here, he did for us. Now what I want to do this morning is to focus on Gethsemane's cup. And Gethsemane's cup is a metaphor. It's a picture to show us about the absolute horrible torment that Jesus went through. I got three questions that I want to ask and answer from this passage.

Question number one is, what's in the cup? Mark 14 verse 32 through 36 says this, And they went to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, sit here while I pray. And he took with him Peter, James, and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And he said to them, my soul is very sorrowful even to death.

Remain here and watch. Father, he fell on the ground and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, Abba Father, all things are possible for you.

Remove this cup from me, yet not what I will, but what you will. I want you to picture the scene. Jesus and all the disciples are walking toward the garden. They get to the edge of the garden and Jesus stops them, tells the disciples to stay there. But he takes three of them, the inner circle, Peter, James, and John, and he says, you come on with me.

They go a little further into the garden. Jesus says, you stay here and wait and watch and pray. And then Jesus went a stone's throw ahead of them and he got on his face on the ground, not standing, not kneeling on his face on the ground. And he began to cry out to his father saying, Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me, but not my will, but yours be done. In Luke chapter 22 verse 14, Luke gives a further description. And being in agony, he prayed more earnestly and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

No one on the face of this earth has ever prayed with agony that Jesus did. The word in the Greek for agony is agone, and that word describes an intense wrestling match. I want you to picture, if you will, two strong wrestlers and they are with each other. They've got their hands around each other's neck and every fiber in their being, every muscle, every tendon, every bone is just is just reaching out with all of its strength to try to accomplish something. What are they trying to accomplish?

They are trying to accomplish the defeat of their opponent. Jesus is praying with that kind of intensity. Luke said that sweat was pouring off of his head like great drops of blood. His head is down in the dust now and he's laying on his face.

And so when he gets up, there's so much sweat that the dust has come up on his face and his eyebrows and his beard are just covered with mud and sweat. And he's asking his father, if possible, let this cup pass from me. Here's the question. What's in the cup?

What's in it? What was so vile and filthy that the very Son of God begged his father to remove it from him? Was it physical death by crucifixion?

No. Physical death by crucifixion is horrible. They nail the spikes through your hands and your feet, great, great pain. And then you go through many other terrible things. You lose your ability to breathe because you can't pull yourself up.

And then you start dehydrating through all the loss of blood. Folks, it was one of the worst forms of death that hell had ever created. And so was that what Jesus went through? Yes, Jesus went through that. But was that what he was dreading?

Other people had gone through that very same thing. And some of them had been crucified as joyful martyrs. I think of Peter. When they took Peter out to be crucified, he said, crucify me, crucify me upside down for I'm not worthy to be crucified like Jesus. So no, the cup was not the physical suffering that Jesus would endure on the cross. Well, was it an extraordinary attack from Satan? No, Jesus had been attacked from Satan before in the wilderness and he conquered him. He defeated him. And yes, Satan did hound him all the way to the cross.

But Jesus had no dread or fear of Satan. Well, what was it? Was it the betrayal of Judas or the denial of Peter? Was it the failure of the other disciples?

No. They were disappointments, but that was not the dread. So what was it? What was in that cup? The pollution of sin was in that cup. And you must remember that Jesus had never sinned. Hebrews chapter 4 verse 15 says that he was tempted in all points, even as we are, and yet he was without sin.

2 Corinthians chapter 5 verse 21 says this, For God made him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might become the righteousness of God in him. Do you know what was in that cup? Sin was in that cup. Who's sin?

The sin of every child of God from the time of Adam until the time that last person comes to know Christ before Jesus returns to this earth. The sin of the ages was in that cup. My sin and your sin, not some of our sin, but all of our sin, every vile thought, every evil deed, every hurtful thing, every hateful thing, every sin of every child of God who has ever lived, past, present, and future, was in that cup that Jesus had to drink. What was in that cup? The rape in that cup, sodomy, pornography, child abuse, spousal abuse, blasphemy, abortion, witchcraft, political corruption, lying.

Put it all, all of that filth in that cup. Here, Jesus, drink it, drink it, drink it. Jesus didn't just bear our sin. Jesus became our sin. Adrian Rogers said the following, you may not understand what sin is, but I can tell you Jesus knew what sin is. Jesus had seen sin turn angels to demons and men to beasts. Sin is a clenched fist in the face of God, and Jesus knew when he drank that cup, he would be numbered with the transgressors, and him whose name is holy, who is the complete other, the antithesis of sin would become sin.

So the pollution of sin was in that cup, something else in that cup, and that is the punishment of sin. Jesus knew that when he would hang on that cross, he would receive the punishment for all of the sins of all of the people of God for all time. Romans chapter 8 verse 32 says that God spared not his son.

Isaiah 53 verse 20 tells us that it pleased the Lord to bruise him. Jesus suffered our hell for us. You remember when Jesus was hanging on the cross, one of the things that he cried out was, my God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Did God the Father really forsake and abandon Jesus? I tell you, yes, he did.

Why? Because Jesus became sin. For three hours on the six hours that Jesus was on the cross, he became sin. And God the Father, who is too holy to even look upon sin, had to turn his back and break fellowship with his son.

That had never been done for all of eternity. For all of eternity, God the Father and God the Son were in perfect agreement, were in perfect fellowship, and now all of a sudden at this point in time as Jesus is hanging on the cross, the fellowship is broken. That's what Jesus is dealing with here.

Once again, listen to the comments of Adrian Rogers. At the cross, the sins of the world were distilled and the eternities were compressed, and Jesus being infinite bore in a finite period of time, what we being finite would bear in an infinite period of time. I'm telling you that Jesus Christ suffered an eternity of hell on that cross. The price that Jesus paid, only the damned in hell can begin to know, but they'll never know because they're only paying for their sin. He paid all the sin of all of God's people for all time.

And friend, if that doesn't move your heart, your heart is harder than a rock. No wonder Jesus said, Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me. Question two, does Jesus drink at all? Mark 14, 37 through 42 says this, and he came and found them sleeping, said to Peter, Simon, are you asleep?

Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. And again, he went away and he prayed saying the same words. And again, he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy and they did not know what to answer. And he came the third time and said to them, are you still sleeping, taking your rest?

Good enough, the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going, see my betrayers at hand. And Luke 22, verse 43 through 46. And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony, he prayed more earnestly. His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. When he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow. And he said to them, why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The Lord Jesus Christ drank that cup to its bitter dregs.

Not some of it, not most of it, but all of it. Did Jesus shrink back from that cup? Yes, he did shrink back from that cup. Does that make you think less of him? Makes me think more of him. Because now I know that what's going on here with Jesus is not a charade.

This was real. He saw right before his eyes the vileness and the filthiness of sin. So Jesus says, oh God, isn't there another way?

In silence from heaven, he said, no, there is no other way. We don't get this, do we? Because we've gotten used to the dark. Sin doesn't offend us like it should. Our conscience has become calloused. Our hearts have become hardened. So we can laugh at infidelity. We can condone homosexuality. We can gaze at pornography.

We shrug our shoulders and we say, so what? Jesus shrank back from that cup because Jesus could not say, so what? In my former church, I was officiating in a wedding service. I had the rehearsal and after the rehearsal we went out to a very fine restaurant. And I was seated at a table with the grandfather of the bride. We started talking.

I came to realize very quickly that this man was truly a man of God. The waiter came over and asked the grandfather, said, would you like some champagne? He had a big old champagne bottle. And the grandfather said, no, thank you, I'll take some tea. He gave me tea as well. And then the grandfather reached around and kind of whispered in my ear. And he said, Doug, he said my dad was an alcoholic. He said it caused our family all kinds of heartache and all kinds of problems.

It was tough. He said when I was 12 years old I made a vow to God that I would never touch alcohol again, that it would not be part of my life. He said I'm 82 years old now.

He said I've kept that vow for 70 years. He said I'm not one of those who believe that drinking a beer is going to send you to hell. But he said all my associations with alcohol have been bad. And then he said this. He said I don't try to force my conviction on others.

But he said for me alcohol is off limits. While we were talking one of the groomsmen came over. He took a little bottle of liquor and he poured it into the grandfather's tea. I didn't see it. The grandfather didn't see it. And then as we were sitting there the grandfather reached over and he grabbed the tea and he picked it up and he took a big swig. His eyes started watering. And he coughed. He said what is this? And he handed it over to me and I smelled it and I said that's bourbon.

Somebody's played a trick on you. And all of a sudden we heard all this laughing. He turned around and the groomsmen were over there and they were just howling with laughter and they were pointing at him and said hey grandpa you're not a virgin anymore.

What was that first drink like? And they were just, just laughing. Now there have been times in my life since I became a preacher that I would have liked to for about ten minutes not be a preacher. Because I would have loved to have gotten up right then and just smacked that guy right in the nose. I wanted to.

I didn't do it but I did want to. I looked over at the older gentleman and he wasn't mad. His face wasn't red.

He wasn't lashing out but his countenance had just dropped. And I said listen you didn't break your veil. You didn't do that.

You were tricked. And he said I know it but it just makes me sad. And as I was leaving that place that day I thought that's how we ought to feel toward all sin all the time. Every time we are faced with sin we ought to think of what it did to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Now let me ask you something. Fathers do your kids know that sin offends you? Do they really know it in their heart? Do your wives and your children know that you hate what Jesus hates?

If not they sure ought to know that. Jesus was presented with Gethsemane's cup. Will he drink it or will he not?

Three times in the Gospel of Matthew Jesus said Lord if it be possible remove this cup from me. Folks it was not the Father's will to let it pass. And you know Jesus didn't have to drink it.

He didn't have to drink it. He didn't have to die. He had a choice. Jesus said I laid down my life.

Nobody takes my life from me. You see Jesus was the only man who had that choice except Adam. He could have chosen not to die because Jesus was without sin. Wages of sin is death.

He never sinned. He didn't have to die. Now some people may say well a man committing suicide chooses to die.

No he doesn't. He's going to die anyway. For it's appointed unto men once to die and after that the judgment.

He may think that he chooses to die a little earlier than he would but he's going to die. Jesus did not have to. So what did Jesus say to God the Father? He said nevertheless not my will but thine be done. That's not what Satan said is it? Isaiah chapter 14 Satan's trying to assert the throne of God and he says God not your will but mine be done. In the Garden of Eden it was Adam who said Lord not your will but mine be done. But in the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus said not my will but yours be done. Jesus willingly voluntarily vicariously and victoriously said not my will but yours be done. If Jesus said no we would have all suffered in an eternal hell. There would have been no hope for us. All the Old Testament saints that were in Abraham's bosom waiting for Jesus to die on the cross and be resurrected would have been sent immediately to hell. But praise God Jesus said not my will but yours be done.

Now listen to me carefully. God will never overlook sin. He cannot. His holiness will not allow it. No sin can go unpunished. If God were to let one sin go unpunished then God would cease to be holy. Now if you were walking down the streets of Charlotte today and you started asking people what is the greatest attribute of God probably 90 percent would tell you. Well the greatest attribute of God is love and they would be wrong. The greatest attribute of God is not love. The greatest attribute of God is holiness.

You see all of the other attributes of God flow out of his holiness. You remember in Isaiah 6 when the seraphim were encircling the throne they were singing. What were they singing? They were not singing mercy, mercy, mercy or love, love, love.

They were singing holy, holy, holy. But God is love also. So how can a loving God punish our sin, still love and accept us? The answer is in Gethsemane's cup and that cup is a picture of Jesus suffering our hell for us on the cross.

All right question three. Was there another cup? Just a few hours before this moment in Gethsemane Jesus was instituting the Lord's Supper and he held up the cup to his disciples and said this is the blood of the new covenant that was shed for many through this in remembrance of me. Folks we have the privilege of drinking from the cup of communion because Jesus drank of the cup of Gethsemane. I would submit to you today that the agony that Jesus experienced in Gethsemane was probably the real war. Now the nails went into his hands when he was on the cross but the nails went through his heart in Gethsemane. The victory was won in Gethsemane.

It was paid for at the cross at Calvary. As I said before the word agony that is used to describe Jesus' praying is a word that means intense wrestling match. I want you to picture him if you can. He's praying. He's not praying standing up. He's on his face in the dirt and he's praying his heart out, intensely praying.

I've been with families, parents who have a child that's being operated on and the doctors are telling them it's about 50-50 whether this child is going to live. And to watch those parents pray, their hands shake, tears rolling down their cheeks and they're crying out to the Lord, Lord please, please have mercy on my child. I'll never forget a time that Eugene and I were called out to go see a family and we went over to the house not knowing what the problem was. We walked into the living room and the father, husband, was lying in the floor in a fetal position and he was shaking and crying like a baby. His wife was crying and he was praying as we went in. He was praying that his wife might forgive him because he had had an adulterous affair and he was praying, God please have mercy on me. I've seen people who are intensely praying but nobody has ever prayed intensely as Jesus did here. In Gethsemane, he wasn't standing.

He wasn't kneeling. In prayer, he was laying face down in the dirt. The scripture tells us that God sent an angel at that time. Why did he need an angel? I think that God sent an angel to be sure that Jesus wouldn't die there in Gethsemane before he could go to the cross. He did that for us. Jesus drank the cup of Gethsemane so that we could drink the cup of redemption.

I believe the agony in Gethsemane could have killed him but God would not allow that to happen. Jesus rose up from prayer. He walked over to Peter, James, and John. He looks like he's been in a downpour of rain.

He's so covered with sweat. He walks over to them and guess what these mighty disciples are doing? They're asleep, sound asleep. Jesus says, rise up, rise up and pray that you will not enter into temptation. When their prayer lives were a complete failure, what did Jesus say? He said, pray anyway.

What should we do when we're at a complete loss of what to do? We need to pray. Folks, take a look at the people of God and how they handle their problems all the way through scripture. I think of Job who lost his family, he lost his children, he lost his property, he lost his health.

What did he do? He went to the Lord in prayer. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. I think of Hannah who wanted a baby so bad.

She was just desolate. She cried, Lord, give me this baby and the Lord gave her Samuel. I think of Hezekiah who had the army of Assyria coming against them and it looked like certain destruction they were greatly outnumbered. He takes the request that he has for the Lord.

He writes them down. He lays them down in front of him and he gets on his face before God and prays. And that night God sends an angel and 185,000 soldiers, Assyrian soldiers were killed and they won the battle. I think of King Jehoshaphat who had three enemy armies coming against him and he began to pray. And he said, Lord, we don't have any might and we don't have any power.

We don't know what to do but our eyes are on you. And God confused the enemies. They fought against each other and Jehoshaphat was saved.

They won the battle without having to lift a finger. That's our God. But so it is with us. Is anyone here today ashamed or afraid? Is anyone confused? Is anyone discouraged? Is anyone desperate?

Is anyone aching with lowliness? What do you need to do? Pray. Pray.

When you don't know what to do, you don't know where to go, pray. Dr. James Montgomery Boyce is one of my spiritual heroes. He was the keynote speaker at a conference that Cindy and I went to back in the year 2000 in Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

And we left that conference just invigorated, spiritually invigorated and just pumped up by his preaching. Just about two months later, Dr. Boyce was diagnosed with liver cancer. He went to the doctor. The doctors told him that.

They gave him just a few weeks to live. The day he got the diagnosis was Good Friday. And so on Easter Sunday morning, he got up in the pulpit. He knew it and he shared with them the situation that he was in. And he says, I'm going to have to resign today from my being a pastor here at 10th Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

He had served as their pastor for over 30 years. It was an extremely difficult thing for him to have to do. And it was a heartbreaking thing. But he gave a resignation speech that I want to read to you very quickly. And as I read that speech after he had given it, it just spoke to my heart. And I can remember saying, Lord, I want to face death like James Boyce faced death. He said this, you've been praying, certainly.

And I've been assured of that by many people. A relevant question, I guess, when you pray is this, pray for what? Should you pray for a miracle?

Above all, I would say pray for the glory of God. If you think of God glorifying himself in history and you say, where in all of history has God most glorified himself? He did it at the cross of Jesus Christ. And it wasn't by delivering Jesus from the cross, though he could have. Jesus said, don't you think I could call down from my father 12 legions of angels for my defense?

But he didn't do that. Yet, that's where God is most glorified. If I were to reflect on what goes on theologically here, there are two things that I would stress. One is the sovereignty of God.

That's not novel. We've talked about the sovereignty of God here forever. God's in charge. When things like this come into our lives, they are not accidental. It is not as if God somehow forgot what was going on.

Something slipped by. God does everything according to his will. We've always said that.

But what I've been impressed with mostly is something in addition to that. It's possible, isn't it, to conceive of God as sovereign and yet indifferent. God's in charge, but he doesn't care. But it's not that. God is not only the one who's in charge, God is also good.

Everything he does is good. If God does something in your life, would you change it? If you change it, you'd make it worse. It wouldn't be so good. So that's the way we want to accept it and move forward. And who knows what God will do. Jesus drank Gethsemane's cup so that we could die like James Boyce died. Jesus drank Gethsemane's cup so that we could drink of the cup of redemption.

Let's pray. Father, I just read to this congregation the farewell speech of James Boyce to the congregation of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia. He prayed with total confidence in the sovereignty of God. His death was not a mistake. It was not a victory for Satan. It was God's providential will for James Boyce to enter into God's glory.

Boyce approached his death with confidence because of what happened through the prayer in Gethsemane, the pain of the cross, and the victory of the resurrection. Lord, help us to prepare for either our death or your coming. May we approach both with joy and full faith that we are yours and we will be yours forever. For it's in the holy, precious name of Jesus that I pray. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-26 12:23:40 / 2023-03-26 12:36:55 / 13

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