1997-12-18 - The Garden
The Cross Series, Part 21
The Garden of Gethsemane
John 18:1 When Jesus had spoken these words, He went forth with His disciples over the ravine of the Kidron, where there was a garden, into which He Himself entered, and His disciples.
If you look at a map of the city of Jerusalem and the surrounding terrain, you will notice to the east of the city the Kidron Valley. On the other side of the Kidron Valley is the Mount of Olives. I have friends who have visited the area. Even today the area is fairly peaceful considering the number of tourists and the bustling city nearby. Jesus came here to pray privately with His Father on that last night before He went to the cross.
I have spoken of the meaning of Kidron earlier, but will review it again quickly. The word Kidron means black. Above the Kidron Valley sits the Temple. During the passover, over 250,000 lambs would be slain for the sacrifices of the people. The blood would flow from the Temple down the side of the hill leading to the Kidron Valley. The blood from the sacrifices would dry on that hillside and turn black. It was a stark reminder of the price of sin and the grace and mercy that God provided in His coming Messiah. The Romans cited this mass of blood drying on the hillside as a health hazard and Herod had an aqueduct built to bring water to wash away the blood. The blood and rushing water would run down into the Brook Kidron.
Jesus must cross this Black Valley to reach the Mount of Olives and His favorite place to pray, the Garden of Gethsemane. As the Lord crossed the brook, there would be no missing the water tinted pinkish red with the blood of the sacrifice of a quarter of a million lambs. He would be reminded that His blood would be poured out as a sacrifice in the morning. He would cross the Black Valley again that night, in the custody of soldiers.
I am impressed with the fact that Jesus is urgently seeking a place of no distractions to speak with His Father. His business is urgent indeed. The salvation of the race of humanity is at the crux of the matter. Time must now seem to be racing to the disciples as they leave the Passover minds reeling from the things that Jesus has spoken to them and shown them. They must have known Jesus was going to pray. One or two might have hoped that He would reach the top of the Mount of Olives and keep right on marching. But Jesus has already made it abundantly clear that He is in Jerusalem to die.
Heb 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.
Jesus was tempted in every way like us. We have been given a survival instinct, a sense of extreme danger to protect us. Jesus was fully deity, and yet every bit as human as you and I. But He had no sin nature for those temptations to take hold. He knew the cross was coming. It was not a guess, it was a fact. In the next few verses we will see Jesus ask the Father if there is another way to save humanity other than Him going to the cross and bearing the sins of humanity. Even when the answer was no, He did not run. He did not invoke His deity. He prayed and angels, who would have drawn their swords for Him at a word, came and strengthened Him. He prayed.
In moments of crisis, do we pray? Sadly, even in these moments when God is our best choice, we struggle on our own. Prayer for the growing Christian is not an option. It is a requirement for strength, spiritual support and protection. One thing the enemy loves to see is a Christian who is not praying.
Prayer is a two way conversation, patience and time in prayer will develop your ears to hear what God is saying to you. It can be a quick prayer in traffic, at your desk, jogging or on your knees at your bedside. It can be a quiet time, a planned break with God for reading and prayer. If you are not in the habit of praying, please start. Start small, but be consistent. It takes some time to work on any relationship. As time passes, and the relationship becomes more comfortable there will be wonderful things that open to you. There will be opposition from the world, your flesh and the enemy. Ask Jesus to help you guard this time and remain consistent. In prayer with Jesus are treasures waiting for you, but you have to come and invest the time in the relationship to reap the rewards.
Dear Lord, help those of us who struggle with our prayer lives. Give us the courage to admit that we need the time with You. We ask for the strength and the help to keep the time consistent with You. This is a time when we can get to know You better. We know that You will always be waiting to spend that time with us. Help us to see the value that You place on prayer and our relationship. Amen.
Grace & Peace,
All verses are from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) unless otherwise noted.