GOSPEL OF MARK – ROBBY GALLATY – Program 50
By: The John Ankerberg Show
|By: Pastor Robby Gallaty; ©2011|
|We will have the awesome privilege of journeying back to the spot where Jesus lifts up the final prayer to His Father in the Garden of Gethsemane.|
Are You Sleeping in the Garden?
The title of the message this morning is Are You Sleeping in the Garden? This morning you and I have an awesome privilege of journeying back to the spot where Jesus lifts up the final prayer to His Father in the Garden of Gethsemane. Join me, if you have your Bibles, in Mark 14:32. What an awesome privilege we have to hear Jesus getting alone with the Father. And I want you to ask yourself the question as we begin: Have you been sleeping in the garden?
Mark 14:32: “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 and 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.’ [Pray, stay awake.] And going a little farther, 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.’ And he came and found them sleeping, and he 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 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 him. And he came the third time and said to them, ‘Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.’”
I’ll give you two overarching aspects of the prayer, and it’s really the contrast in the text. The first one is this: simply, Jesus is fervent in prayer. Jesus is fervent in prayer. As we look through the book of Mark, we see Jesus on a number of occasions praying. He always got alone with the Father, always spent time in prayer. We see here it’s not different. Verse 32, “And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I [What?] pray.’”
Now, this is one of three incidences in the New Testament, especially in the book of Mark, where the devil is trying to dissuade Jesus from going to the cross. Jesus came to save the world from the sins that we are in, to redeem us. And the way to do that, according to the plan of God was to go to the cross and to die. The devil, on three different occasions, tried to dissuade Jesus from doing that. Let me show you the first one. Go back to Mark 1. Right out of the gate of Jesus’ ministry, you see the temptation of the devil. Matthew 4 has an extended version of it, but we’ll stay in Mark. Verse 12: “The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by [Who?] Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.”
Jesus spent 40 days and 40 nights in the wilderness fasting and praying. And then at the end of this period of fasting, the enemy approaches Him and basically says, Jesus, you’ve done a lot of hard work. Why don’t you take these stones and turn them into bread. I mean, after all, you’re hungry. You deserve to eat, don’t you? He tempts Jesus to stray from the plan of God. Then he takes Jesus and says, Jesus, listen to me. Why don’t you jump off this tower? You see, you can call angels from heaven to come and catch you. Why don’t you just do it? You can prove to the world that you’re really the Messiah. You can show the world you’re true identity and show them that you really are the Son of God. Why don’t you just do it? And then if that wasn’t enough, he takes Him to the tallest building and he says, Look out at all these buildings and all these kingdoms and all this authority and all this power can be yours, Jesus. You earned it. I mean, you deserve it. Why don’t you just get off the path, Jesus? You don’t need to endure suffering. You don’t need to go to the cross. Just say the word and it can be yours. Constantly the enemy was trying to tempt Jesus to keep Him off the path to the cross.
The second instance is found in Mark 8:31. Jesus began to teach the disciples that He must suffer at the hands of the corrupt authorities. He must die and be raised from the dead. Through the use of Peter; Jesus is pulled aside and Peter says, Jesus, all this talk about death, that’s not what we’re here for. We’re here for power. We’re here for victory. We want to take over the world. The Messiah’s not supposed to die. He’s supposed to be killed other people not be killed! And Jesus looks to him and says what? Get behind Me, Satan! Through the use, the devil used him as an instrument to tempt and steer Jesus away from the cross again.
And then we go back into Mark 14. We see the third attack to keep Jesus from the cross. Jesus takes His disciples to a place called Gethsemane. Gethsemane is another word for olive press. It was an orchard that was known for having this olive press, and as we’ll see in just a few moments, our Lord is pressed to the point of breaking as His human body is sweating blood. It’s becoming so overwhelming for Him. And why is it so overwhelming? Because the devil is after Him. He is feeling—get this—the full force of the attack of the enemy upon Him.
Now, I don’t want you to down play that. You and I say from time to time the devil made me do it or I was tempted by the devil. No, you weren’t. See, the devil is not omnipresent like God. He can’t be at all places and at all times, and I doubt really seriously if you and I have ever been really attacked by the devil himself. But make no mistake about it: Jesus is being attacked by the devil. The full authority of hell is against our Savior at one place, at one time, in the garden. And that’s all He could do is fall on His face and pray. He experiences the weight of the enemy.
He brings the 11 to a place of prayer and then he walks James, John, and Peter a little further and then Jesus says, You guys wait here and watch and pray. I’m going to go over here. And the text says He walks a stone’s throw further. In Luke, it says He gets to His knees. In Matthew, it says He falls on His face and begins to pray to the Lord.
So the question is, Robby, what did He pray? Go to Hebrews 5. The author of Hebrews gives us an insight in verse 7, I think, which is helpful here. Speaking of Jesus, “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications [How?] with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death.” So we can imagine our Lord pouring His heart out to the Father.
Jesus is specifically asking—back in Mark 14—for the cup to pass from Him. When Jesus says the cup, He’s talking about death. Is there any way for this to pass from Me? Now, don’t miss this. Jesus is not asking to do something contrary to the plan of God. He’s just asking God is there any other way that we can accomplish the same purpose going a different path? Ultimately, as difficult as it was to endure the cup, Jesus finishes every request with these words: nevertheless [what?], not my will but your will. See, the ultimate desire for our Lord was to please the Father.
What was in the cup, Robby? As Jesus gazed into the cup, He saw two things. It was a two-fold requirement for Him to drink the cup. Jesus saw the sins of the world—write this down—and the wrath of God. Jesus saw the sins of the world and the wrath of God. As the sacrificial lamb of God, Jesus, up to this point and even to His death, did not commit one sin. Jesus did not have one impure thought. Jesus did not commit one impure action. Jesus did not do impure motive or perform one impure motive. He was absolutely holy. Yet, He must endure all the sins of the world: 2 Corinthians 5:21 tells us for our sake, Jesus or for our sake, God made Him to be sin who knew no sin so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.
Jesus—get this—is about to experience all the sexual immorality. Jesus is about to experience all the disease of the world. He’s about to experience all the sickness of the world, all the profanity of the world, all the idolatry of the world, all the pornography of the world, all the greed of the world, all the anger of the world, all the rage of the world, all the drunkenness of the world, all the depravity of the world of every sin that was committed before He came and every sin that will be committed until the end of eternity will be placed squarely upon the sinless, spotless lamb. That’s what He saw in the cup.
What does that mean, Robby? This pure vessel is about to be contaminated with pollution and corruption and waste. I imagine it would be the equivalent of a person who had never experienced his entire life, never experienced any amount of pain and then, all of a sudden, his arm gets completely severed off. That’s probably the beginning of what Jesus experienced. Could you imagine staring the cup in the face?
But as difficult as the cup of sin was, it dulled in comparison to the wrath of God. This holy, just and righteous judge has to punish sin. There has to be a sacrifice for sin and for God to be just, He has to be justifier and to punish sin. Ephesians 2:1 says, And you were dead [that means you and I were dead] in our trespasses and sins in which we once walked following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, this spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience among who we all once lived carrying about the desires of the body and the mind and [get this] we were by nature children of wrath. What does that mean, Robby? That means you and I, before we came to the Lord Jesus Christ, and for those in here who have never completely surrendered to Christ, you are an object of God’s divine wrath. Now what does that mean? That means that you’re under judgment. You’re under the condemnation of God.
But Jesus made a way for us, which is an amazing truth in the Bible. Galatians 3:13, turn there. I want to show it to you personally. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse [for who?] for us.” When Christ was made to be a curse for us, He became the object of God’s divine wrath. On the cross, Christ bore the sanction of the law upon His body; the wrath of God that was meant for us was placed upon the head and absorbed by Christ. All of it was absorbed by Christ. When Christ looked into the cup, all of hell looked back at Him. I want you to imagine that. He saw the sins of the world and He saw the wrath of God and because of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, you and I now have access to God. What an amazing truth. Think about that. That’s why Jesus Christ is the only way to God because He’s the only that absorbed the sin of man and became the wrath of God for our salvation.
And I want to challenge you today. If you’ve never put your faith in Christ, if you’ve never repented of your sins, my friends, you don’t have a sacrifice, a substitutionary sacrifice that will stand for you on the day of judgment. Would you do that? Have you done that? Have you cried out to the Lord, asked for forgiveness of your sins, placed your complete faith in Him alone as the once and for all sacrifice?
Now you understand why Jesus Christ in the garden began to sweat drops of blood. Luke says this in Luke 22:44, “And being in an agony [great pain, our Lord] prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” No disciple is there to comfort Him. No family is there to console Him. No angels are there to minister to Him. Our Lord is all alone, isolated in the garden praying to the Father.
And I want you to understand this. During the most challenging, demanding moment of the earthly ministry of Jesus, what is our Lord doing? He’s praying. He’s praying. I think—don’t miss this—I think we can learn something from this. If Jesus Christ, as the immortal God, in the flesh, the sacrificial Lamb, the Suffering Servant, the Way, the Truth, the Life, if Jesus Christ as the immortal God prayed, how much more to you and I as mere mortals need to pray?
How often are you praying? What do you do during the most demanding, trying time of life? Are you praying? I imagine, if you’re like me sometimes, God’s the last one we go to, right? We go to our co-workers for advice. We go to our family members for advice. We go to our friends. We want to go to doctors and psychologists and lawyers and friends and co-workers. We go to everyone else but God and then when all else fails, I think I’ll give God a try. Not the Lord Jesus. When push came to shove, when He was tempted and tried, where did He go first? He went to God. Jesus Christ, as we see through the Bible and through the gospels, was fervent in prayer.
Now, Robby, where do we take the shift in the text? Here it comes. We’re going to take a shift from looking at our Lord, who was fervent and diligent to pray, and we’re going to turn and look at the prayerlessness or the failure to pray of the disciples. Go back to Mark 14. Jesus had to come back not once, not twice, but how many times? Three times to pray.
Now, in order for us to get the thrust of the passage, we have to go back to verse 26 of chapter 14. And the first point under failure to prayer is this: it’s better for you and I to listen than to speak. Did you catch that? It’s better to listen than to speak. Jesus goes to Peter and says, Peter, you’re going to deny Me. And that’s what I want to focus on right now. I want to focus on one person of the eleven, and his name is Peter. Jesus gives Peter a word. Peter, you’re going to deny Me. But Peter was so interested in trying to tell Jesus all the great things he was going to do for Jesus that he didn’t listen to the Lord. Peter, you’re going to deny me. No, Lord, not me. Peter, you’re going to deny. No Lord, you don’t understand. That’s not me.
You know, sometimes we can get like that. We have all these great ideas that we want to do for God, right? All these great things that we want to tell God that we want to do, right? God, we’ve got all these ideas. I want to travel the world. I want to write books, Lord. I want to own a big company and I want to have a big house and I want to go on mission trips and I want to preach to thousands and I want to sing in front of hundreds and I want to pastor a big church one day, Lord. You know, we can have all these plans of ministry but, sadly, they don’t last. You know why? Because they’re our plans. Because they’re our ideas.
Many of us are so interested in putting our burdens on the Lord that when, was the last time you actually listened to what burdened the Lord? When was the last time you went to the Lord in prayer and said, God, I’m not going to put in my heart the things I want you to do. How about you put on my heart the things you want to do in me? God, why don’t you help me hate sin the way you hate sin and love people the way you love people. Have you ever done that before? God I want you to put on my heart the things that are important to you. You know, Peter is like many of us. He was so interested in telling God the things he wanted to do.
But that’s not the reason he fell in the courtyard. That’s not the reason he denied Jesus in the courtyard. You have to go back to the text to see why Peter failed Jesus in the courtyard. Jesus brings the disciples—look at verse 32—to the Garden of Gethsemane. You know what Gethsemane symbolizes? Gethsemane is your prayer closet. Gethsemane is the place you get alone with the Lord. It could be your office. It could be a room in your house. It could be a meeting room here at the church. It could be in your vehicle, as one of the men I discipled years ago. He couldn’t find anywhere to pray so he would go in his truck at lunch and for one hour, pray. Gethsemane is a place of prayer. See, not many people want to go to Gethsemane. There’s not a lot of glory in Gethsemane. There’s not a lot of respect in the prayer closet. There’s not a lot of dignity by going to the garden. No one knows you’re in the garden. But don’t miss this. It was in the garden where God spoke to His Son.
Friends, I want to make a suggestion to you this morning and that’s this: the reason Peter fell in the courtyard is because he was sleeping in the garden. He was sleeping in the garden. It’s better to listen than to speak. It’s better to pray than to sleep. It’s better to pray than to sleep.
Jesus brought the disciples to the garden to pray. He wanted them to pray for themselves, but you know they had to be praying for Him. Jesus told them time and time again, I’m going to die. I’m going to be crucified. I’m going to be raised from the dead. And you know they had to share that burden with the one they loved. But while Jesus is praying, the disciples are sleeping. And three times He goes back, Come on guys! I’m moments away from the cross. Can’t you just watch for an hour? And then He goes and prays and He comes back and it’s the same story.
You know, as a pastor, we share people’s struggles. My pastoral staff, we deal with problems. We’re in the problem-solving business. That’s what the Lord has given us, the ability through the Word of God to help people walk through issues in their lives. And people come to me with all kinds of problems. You can imagine: Marital problems, financial problems, problems in their business, problems in their family, problems with their kids, problems with their sons, problems with their daughters. And I hear from time to time, Pastor, we just don’t know what happened. We don’t know where our son went array. We don’t know how we’ve gotten here. We don’t know where the marriage went wrong.
I don’t want to put more on them than they can handle, but my question is always this: Have you been faithful to pray in the garden? We don’t know why the business has gone belly-up. Have you been faithful to pray in the garden? We don’t know why our church is splitting, Pastor. Have you been faithful to pray in the garden? We don’t know why our kids are addicted to drugs and alcohol. Have you been faithful to pray in the garden? We don’t know why our marriage has ended in divorce. Have you been faithful to pray in the garden? I don’t know why I have lost my job. Have you been faithful to pray in the garden? And normally the answer is no.
Andrew Murray said, God’s child can conquer everything, everything by prayer. Is it any wonder that Satan does his utmost to snatch the weapon from the Christian or hinder him from the use of it? So many Christians in church are sleeping. I mean, yes, you’ve come today and, yes, you’re part of the church and, yes, you show up, or maybe you’re joining us by television or radio. But many of you are sleeping. You’re like walking zombies. You’re listening, but you’re not following the direction of God. You’re not awake.
A recent study was done with 17,000 members of a major evangelical denomination, and they studied these members who actually went to prayer conferences and prayer seminars. You would think that the men and women who took the extra step to go to the prayer conferences and the prayer seminars would be better prayers, correct? They did a study and by their own admission, they polled the people—men and women—and they found out that on average, the different people a part of this denomination, prayed on average five minutes a day. Believers, born again, redeemed from their sins, filled with the Spirit of God, pray on average five minutes a day. What was even more shocking was that they polled the pastors and their wives. Now, you think pastors and their wives, that has to more, right? That has to be higher. Pastors and their wives, by their own admission, say they pray on average seven minutes a day. Seven minutes a day.
My friends, we need men and women who are listening to God. Wouldn’t you agree? We need men and women in this country and in this world that are not listening to the local television, that are not interested in the internet, they’re not following the blogs or the latest fad in the world. We need God-ordained men and women filled with the Spirit of God who love nothing more than God and hate nothing more than sin.
I wonder how different our churches would be if the pastors would begin to spend an hour in prayer for their people. I wonder how different your family would be if the husband or the wife would pray for one another. I wonder how different our schools would be if the headmaster of our schools or the board members would begin to pray for the students that come to the school. I wonder how different our children would be if we prayed every single day fervently for our children. I wonder how different our President would be if we stopped criticizing him and started praying for this man to be saved? I wonder how different this country would be if we started praying for God to revive the land and turn the people back to Him.
Can you not pray one hour? Can you not pray one hour, Jesus said. Can you not pray one hour? See, that’s what He told Peter. And Peter obviously couldn’t pray an hour. And so He goes back and He says, Guys, that’s all right. You blew it. The time I needed you the most…. that’s okay. Judas is coming. It’s too late. And Judas comes in. You know the story. He kisses Jesus on the cheek. The crowd attacks Him. They take our Lord into custody. They bring Him into the courtyard. And the all of a sudden Peter decides he’s going to follow Jesus. The rest of the eleven stray, ten of them stray and Peter follows Jesus to the courtyard.
I want to take you there and show you what happens. Luke 22:54. Peter’s in the courtyard. There’s a fire going. Verse 56, a young servant girl sees Peter, as he sat in the light, and looking closely at him said, this man was also with Him. But Peter denied it. Woman, I do not know Jesus. That’s what he’s saying. And a little later someone else saw Peter and said, you also are one of them. Peter said, Man, I am not! And then an interval of about an hour still another insisted saying, certainly, this man also….
What’s interesting is Peter had one hour to think about the two times he denied Christ and he gets one more shot, one more shot. “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.” We understand. We can see you. We listen to the way you talk. But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed.
Peter arrives in the courtyard. They start questioning him. He’s not far from Jesus. Jesus is being tried while all this is going on, right? They’re slapping Him in the face. They’re jeering at Him. They’re humiliating our Lord. And Peter is just a stone’s throw away and Jesus knows Peter is there and Peter is watching Jesus. And all of a sudden, time stands still. Look at it: “…the rooster crowed.”
The trial was disrupted. The seconds turned into minutes. The minutes turned into hours and time stands still. And all of a sudden, Peter realizes and hears the rooster crowing. But not only Peter heard the rooster crowing. Jesus heard the rooster crowing, and that’s all it took. Jesus didn’t say a word to Peter. You know, I would’ve probably said Peter, I TOLD you so. Why didn’t you listen to Me? I told you this was going to happen. Jesus doesn’t say a word.
Notice what the text says. Verse 61: “And the Lord turned and looked at Peter.” That’s all it took. Peter heard the rooster. He looked at our Lord and the Lord looked at Peter. Peter realized at that moment he had failed our Lord.
I wonder this morning if the Lord would look at you, what would He say? Friends, I believe the reason Peter failed Jesus in the courtyard is because he slept in the garden and I’ll prove it to you. When Jesus is in the Garden of Gethsemane, who is the first person he comes and asks, why are you sleeping? Who is it? It’s Peter. Jesus, what about James? James is there. What about John? John is there. No it’s not James. What about Matthew or Bartholomew or the disciples over there? No, it’s Peter; because Peter said, Lord, I will never deny you. And Jesus said, Peter, stay up and pray and now, in the courtyard, that’s all it takes is a look from the Lord Jesus Christ.
If Jesus were to look at you this morning, would He say that you’ve been faithful to pray in the garden or have you been sleeping in the garden? I pray this morning that you’ll take an honest look at yourself and say, Pastor, I’ve been sleeping in the garden. Husbands, your wives need you to be awake in the garden. Wives, your husbands need you to be awake praying for them in the garden. Parents, your kids need you to be praying for them in the garden. Your families need you to be praying for them in the garden. Kids, your parents need you to be awake praying for them in the garden. Listen to me, your pastor and your pastors here need you to be awake praying for us in the garden. No Christian can live close to the Lord if he or she has neglected to stay up and pray and to watch. I wonder how many times you’ve fallen into temptation like me because you were sleeping in the garden.
So the question is what are you going to do about it? You know, it’s one thing to hear a great challenging message from the Word of God about prayer. It’s another thing to do something about it. My friends, could you get up one hour and pray early with the Lord for your family? Can you pray for your kids? Can you pray for your church? Can you pray for this city? Can you pray for this country? Can you tarry with the Lord one hour? Maybe some of you used to come to our early morning prayer time on Tuesday morning but over the course of time, you’ve fallen away. Has it been a priority to you? Maybe you need to refresh and rejuvenate that commitment to the Lord. I don’t know what the Lord is calling you to do but I know He’s calling you to pray and the question is, what are you going to do about it?