by Jeff Noble, Lead Pastor at our Blacksburg campus
What event do we all associate with our forgiveness of sins? What symbol has come to represent for us our salvation? It’s the cross. From songs to steeples, the cross is and will remain the primary symbol for the ultimate sacrifice that resulted in our forgiveness.
However, these verses show that as important as the cross was, the real battle for our souls may have been fought in the same place it all started- in a Garden.
Jesus and his disciples had just finished the Jesus’ last meal as a man. They traveled from there to the garden, which John tells us, Jesus had used often (John 18.2).
Once in the garden, Jesus left his disciples except for his closest three – Peter, James and John. These three disciples were Christ’s “inner circle.” Only these three will see him now in sorrow and despair. It is among these snoozing disciples that the world’s greatest spiritual battle is fought.
What was Jesus distressed about? Look at 2 Corinthians 5:21.
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
This prospect of becoming our sin, of bearing our sins, so “deeply grieved” Him that scripture says Jesus could have taken no more. The battle was so intense that it almost killed Him in the garden.
Here He asked the Father a very simple question. He wanted to know if there was any way for man to be saved other than by His having to die on the cross. The cross was fearful, but the thought of not doing the Father’s will was even more horrible to Jesus. So He said, “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” What a picture of pure obedience.
What does the Garden of Gethsemane mean for us?
- Thanksgiving for a new understanding of the price Christ paid for our salvation.
- Prayer. If Jesus needed to pray to his Father, how much more so do we? Jesus made the most important decision of His life on His knees in prayer. Do you go to God with your important decisions?
- Obedience. Obedience is so much more than staying out of trouble (passive, defensive). It is getting into good (offensive).
- Grace. Jesus loves us even when we let Him down. In the midst of betrayal and disappointing behavior from his closest friends, Jesus demonstrated a commitment to extend grace to us. His work is a model for us to give grace to others.
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