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Sorrow and Betrayal in the Garden (Matthew 26:36-56)

First Baptist Church https://fbcbartow.org

“Sorrow and Betrayal in the Garden”

(Matthew 26:36-56)

Series: God’s Fulfilled Promise [on screen]

Rev. Matthew C. McCraw, EdD

First Baptist Church, Bartow, Florida

October 25, 2020

The Passage

Matthew 26:36-56

36 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he told the disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 Taking along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 He said to them, “I am deeply grieved to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake with me.” 39 Going a little farther, he fell facedown and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

40 Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. He asked Peter, “So, couldn’t you stay awake with me one hour? 41 Stay awake and pray, so that you won’t enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

42 Again, a second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” 43 And he came again and found them sleeping, because they could not keep their eyes open.

44 After leaving them, he went away again and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more. 45 Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? See, the time is near. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Get up; let’s go. See, my betrayer is near.”

47 While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, suddenly arrived. A large mob with swords and clubs was with him from the chief priests and elders of the people. 48 His betrayer had given them a sign: “The one I kiss, he’s the one; arrest him.” 49 So immediately he went up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him.

50 “Friend,” Jesus asked him, “why have you come?” Then they came up, took hold of Jesus, and arrested him. 51 At that moment one of those with Jesus reached out his hand and drew his sword. He struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his ear.

52 Then Jesus told him, “Put your sword back in its place because all who take up the sword will perish by the sword. 53 Or do you think that I cannot call on my Father, and he will provide me here and now with more than twelve legions of angels? 54 How, then, would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen this way?”

55 At that time Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out with swords and clubs, as if I were a criminal, to capture me? Every day I used to sit, teaching in the temple, and you didn’t arrest me. 56 But all this has happened so that the writings of the prophets would be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and ran away.

Introductory Comments:

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I don’t care for olives, but I’m a big fan of olive oil. Olive oil is essentially olive juice. Like any other juice, it’s made by putting the olive fruit under pressure until the juice, or oil, comes out. The oil is then processed and used for various purposes. Olive oil was a very popular agricultural product in Jesus’ day and it is still popular today. 

In today’s passage, we hear about Jesus praying in a garden. It’s a garden of olive trees at a place called Gethsemane. You may not know this, but Gethsemane means “oil press.” It was probably a place near many olive trees that had a press used for pressing oil out of olives. 


Well, much like olives that are pressed under extreme pressure, in this passage, Jesus is facing extreme pressure. We will see here that Jesus is being pressed with the reality of betrayal, the reality of abandonment, the reality of denial of Him, the reality of injustice towards Him, the reality of impending crucifixion, and worst of all, the reality that He will have to endure the wrath of God. 

Today, we will see sorrow and betrayal in the Garden of Gethsemane. 

Before we go any further, let’s pray and ask God to speak to us. 

(prayer)

I’ve been telling you for weeks that Jesus is getting nearer and nearer to His crucifixion. He’s been questioned by the religious rulers over and over, He’s been plotted against, He has said that someone would betray Him, and now it starts to go down.

In today’s passage, Jesus will be betrayed, He will be arrested, and His disciples will abandon Him. The events at the end of Jesus’ life are starting to unfold. 

Let us now see three of the ingredients that make up this part of the end of Jesus’ life. 

First, let us . . . 

I. See the sorrow of Jesus (vv. 36-46) [on screen]

In Matthew 26:36-46, we see our Lord experiencing intense sorrow. 

Look at verses 36-46:

36 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he told the disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 Taking along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 He said to them, “I am deeply grieved to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake with me.” 39 Going a little farther, he fell facedown and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

40 Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. He asked Peter, “So, couldn’t you stay awake with me one hour? 41 Stay awake and pray, so that you won’t enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

42 Again, a second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” 43 And he came again and found them sleeping, because they could not keep their eyes open.

44 After leaving them, he went away again and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more. 45 Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? See, the time is near. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Get up; let’s go. See, my betrayer is near.”

Notice what is happening: after the disciples and Jesus have finished the Passover Meal He takes them to Gethsemane. Jesus tells them that while He is there He is going to pray. He leaves most of the disciples but takes Peter and the two sons of Zebedee (whom we know to be James and John). These are His three closest disciples. He goes off to pray but tells Peter, James, and John to remain at a distance and pray as well. 

Jesus tells Peter, James, and John that He is sorrowful and troubled. He tells them that He is deeply grieved to the point of death. In other words, He feels so terribly sorrowful that He feels like He could die. Jesus is not just having a bad day. He is so sorrowful that it seems to be affecting Him emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, and physically.  

Well, why is He so upset? We get the answer to this question as we have a glance at the intimate prayer that Jesus prayed to God the Father. 

Look at verse 39: “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me.”

Jesus is referring to something that causes Him such great sorrow that He goes so far as to ask the Father to take it from Him. 

Well, what is this cup Jesus references? The Old Testament refers to a cup that contains the wrath of God towards sin and sinners. This is the cup to which Jesus is referring.

Jesus will suffer betrayal, abandonment, arrest, imprisonment, torture, beatings, mocking, and crucifixion. However, worse than all of that, Jesus will experience the burden of the wrath of God towards sinners on His shoulders.

Jesus has no sin for which He should experience the wrath of God. However, Jesus came to set the sinner free. He came to redeem lost souls. He came to pay the penalty of sin. He came to be the ultimate Passover Lamb. The only way He could do that was to drink the cup of God’s wrath. Jesus would bear the burden. Jesus would take the punishment. Jesus would be pressed and crushed as an olive is pressed and crushed at an oil press. 

Jesus is sorrowful and He comes to the Father with His prayer for deliverance. 

Notice, also, the progression of Jesus’ prayers. 

First, as we see in verse 39, He comes to the Father and prays that He will let this cup pass from Him. Jesus knows the end, but in His human nature, He is acknowledging that He does not want to suffer the wrath of God. Catch this, church: look at what He says in verse 39, “Yet not as I will, but as you will.” More than escaping His own sorrow, Jesus seeks to be obedient to the will of the Father. What faithfulness. What obedience. What love. 

We see in the second prayer a progression where Jesus is facing the reality that He will suffer. In verse 42, He says, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.”

Finally, Jesus goes on to pray a third time. He is praying for God’s will to be done above all else. He knows that His time has come. 

Jesus knows what awaits Him and it brings Him great sorrow to the point of death. 

See the sorrow of Jesus. 

Next, . . .

II. See the weakness of the disciples (vv. 36-46) [on screen]

Let’s look at three examples of the weakness of the disciples found in this passage:

Verses 40-41 say, “40 Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. He asked Peter, ‘So, couldn’t you stay awake with me one hour? 41 Stay awake and pray, so that you won’t enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.’”

Verse 43 says, “43 And he came again and found them sleeping, because they could not keep their eyes open.”

In verse 45, we see that they are still sleeping. Jesus says, “Are you still sleeping and resting?”

Now, surely the disciples are tired. They’ve been celebrating the Passover, hearing of betrayal, learning about the Lord’s Supper, and learning that they will abandon Jesus. It is now well into the night. Let’s acknowledge the fact that they were probably pretty tired. 

However, this is the most grief-filled moment that Jesus has experienced on this earth and His followers can’t even stay awake to pray with and for Him. They didn’t seem to grasp the serious nature of what Jesus was going through. 

Jesus even warned them to, “stay awake and pray,” because, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Yet, they still didn’t seem to get it. They still couldn’t stay awake and pray for Jesus. 

Also, we see at the end of our passage this morning (let’s skip ahead to it) the disciples did desert Jesus. 

Look at the second part of verse 56. Matthew tells us, “ . . . Then all the disciples deserted him and ran away.”

Even though each of them said that they would die for Jesus rather than desert Him, when the rubber met the road, they all abandoned Him in His greatest moment of need. 

Jesus was ready for what was about to come; the disciples were not. What a tragedy. Jesus would never leave them nor forsake them, yet at the first sign of trouble, they abandoned their Lord. 

Listen, church: there is within us the same temptation that led to Judas betraying Jesus, the same fear that led to Peter denying Jesus, and the same panic that led to the disciples abandoning Jesus. We must understand our own weakness. We must cling to the truth that the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. We must beg God, by His Holy Spirit, to keep us close to Him, focused on Him, and faithful to Him. 

See the weakness of the disciples. 

Finally, . . .

III. See the fulfillment of Scripture (vv. 47-56) [on screen]

Jesus knew that this moment was coming, He knew that this was His purpose, and He knew that this was a fulfillment of the prophecies concerning Him. 

Remember, He said in verse 45, “See, the time is near.”

Let’s look at this next section of Scripture as we see the fulfillment of Scripture. 

Look at verses 47-56.

47 While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, suddenly arrived. A large mob with swords and clubs was with him from the chief priests and elders of the people. 48 His betrayer had given them a sign: “The one I kiss, he’s the one; arrest him.” 49 So immediately he went up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him.

50 “Friend,” Jesus asked him, “why have you come?” Then they came up, took hold of Jesus, and arrested him. 51 At that moment one of those with Jesus reached out his hand and drew his sword. He struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his ear.

52 Then Jesus told him, “Put your sword back in its place because all who take up the sword will perish by the sword. 53 Or do you think that I cannot call on my Father, and he will provide me here and now with more than twelve legions of angels? 54 How, then, would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen this way?”

55 At that time Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out with swords and clubs, as if I were a criminal, to capture me? Every day I used to sit, teaching in the temple, and you didn’t arrest me. 56 But all this has happened so that the writings of the prophets would be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and ran away.

We already knew that Jesus knew Judas would betray Him. We already knew that Jesus knew He would be arrested. We already knew that Jesus knew His disciples would abandon Him. Jesus is ready for this and He clearly states in verse 56, “ . . . all this has happened so that the writings of the prophets would be fulfilled.”

Remember, Matthew is writing his Gospel so that the Jewish people might know that Jesus is their Messiah; He is the fulfillment of all the Scriptures and the prophets; He is God’s fulfilled promise.

As we look at this section, let’s talk just a moment about some of the details. 

Notice that there was a mob of people who came to arrest Jesus. Jesus had never shown any indication of violence, but they wanted to make sure that they got this right. They wanted to make sure that they got Jesus!

Judas kissed Jesus to indicate that He was the one. By the way, it wasn’t odd for men to kiss each other on the cheek in Middle-Eastern culture, and it’s still not today. Perhaps the reason for this was because it was dark and the mob members didn’t know exactly which one was Jesus. The kiss by Judas would serve as an indication of Judas’ evidence against Jesus as well as point out exactly which one was Jesus. 

Jesus asked why Judas had come, but of course, He knew. He was letting the moment sink in for Judas and those around. 

At the arrest, one of the disciples (who we know to be Peter from the other Gospel accounts) struck one of the mob members and cut off his ear. We also know from the other Gospel accounts that Jesus healed the man’s ear. Jesus, even at His arrest, was full of compassion and healing. 

Jesus points out to Peter that this arrest has to happen. Jesus doesn’t need his help. Jesus can call an army of angels to take out all of the bad guys at any moment. However, this is Jesus’ purpose; this is the plan; the is the fulfillment of the Scripture. 

As Jesus speaks of a fulfillment of Scripture and prophecy it is best to view what He is speaking of as the collection of prophecies and Scripture written about Him, His purpose on earth, and the events leading to the end of His life on earth. Everything is coming together. Jesus’ time has come. 


See the fulfillment of Scripture. 

Concluding Thoughts:

We see the sorrow of Jesus, we see the weakness of the disciples, and we see the fulfillment of Scripture. Let us see these three segments that make up this passage.

Most of all, let us see Jesus. Let the words of the writer of Hebrews encourage you. 

Hebrews 12:2 – Keeping our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy that lay before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. [on screen]

The suffering of Jesus was terrible, but I’m thankful for it because His suffering spared me from eternal suffering. 

That takes us to our bottom line:

Bottom Line: The sorrow of the Savior was essential for the salvation of sinners[on screen]

(repeat)

If Jesus did not drink the cup of the wrath of God, if He did not suffer the sorrow that laid before Him, there would be no First Baptist Church Bartow, there would be no salvation for our souls, and there would be no hope for the world. 

The plan of God was for Jesus to experience sorrow and to suffer. Let us be forever grateful. 


Challenge yourself this week to live out the beauty of this passage in the following ways:

Weekly Challenge: [on screen]

1. Thank Jesus for His faithfulness[on screen]

Have you thanked Jesus lately for His faithfulness?

Thank Him through prayer, thank Him verbally, thank Him by singing. 

Let the faithfulness of Jesus move you to gratitude. 

2. Pray for your faithfulness[on screen]

We need the power of God in our lives to be faithful. Pray for your faithfulness.

The twelve disciples failed in that moment because they were relying on their own strength and their plans. We need the power of God and the plans of God in our lives. 


Let the faithfulness of Jesus move you to be faithful. 

3. Call others to faithfulness[on screen]

Jesus was faithful so that we could faithfully be the people who God created us to be. So also, God is calling others to faithfulness. Will you call them to God?

He wants to use us to accomplish His plan. Will you be faithful? Will you call others to faithfulness?

Let the faithfulness of Jesus move you to call others to faithfulness. 

Closing:

Jesus suffered so that you could be free and new. Are you living a free and new life?

(Gospel presentation)

(closing prayer)

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