The Great Reversal
The Last Supper: Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denial, The Garden of Gethsemane
Mark 14:17 In the evening Jesus arrived with the Twelve. 18 As they were at the table eating, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, one of you eating with me here will betray me.”
Mark 14:19 Greatly distressed, each one asked in turn, “Am I the one?”
Mark 14:20 He replied, “It is one of you twelve who is eating from this bowl with me. 21 For the Son of Mana must die, as the Scriptures declared long ago. But how terrible it will be for the one who betrays him. It would be far better for that man if he had never been born!”
Mark 14:22 As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take it, for this is my body.”
Mark 14:23 And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. 24 And he said to them, “This is my blood, which confirms the covenanta between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice for many. 25 I tell you the truth, I will not drink wine again until the day I drink it new in the Kingdom of God.”
Mark 14:26 Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives.
Mark 14:27 On the way, Jesus told them, “All of you will desert me. For the Scriptures say, ‘God will strikes the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’
Mark 14:28 But after I am raised from the dead, I will go ahead of you to Galilee and meet you there.”
Mark 14:29 Peter said to him, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I never will.”
Mark 14:30 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter—this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me.”
Mark 14:31 “No!” Peter declared emphatically. “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” And all the others vowed the same.
Mark 14:32 They went to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and Jesus said, “Sit here while I go and pray.” 33 He took Peter, James, and John with him, and he became deeply troubled and distressed. 34 He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
Mark 14:35 He went on a little farther and fell to the ground. He prayed that, if it were possible, the awful hour awaiting him might pass him by. 36 “Abba, Father,”a he cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
Mark 14:37 Then he returned and found the disciples asleep. He said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? 38 Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”
Mark 14:39 Then Jesus left them again and prayed the same prayer as before. 40 When he returned to them again, he found them sleeping, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open. And they didn’t know what to say.
Mark 14:41 When he returned to them the third time, he said, “Go ahead and sleep. Have your rest. But no—the time has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Up, let’s be going. Look, my betrayer is here!”
Spring is a great time of year.
The crocuses are in bloom and the tulip leaves are pushing through the ground. The earth comes alive. Soon it will be time to enjoy the garden.
The thought of relaxing in a nice garden brings pleasant thoughts to most of us.
But in our reading we find Jesus far, far from relaxed, in the garden called Gethsemane.
We have just heard that:
Jesus has shared his last supper with his disciples. He has inaugurated a new covenant using bread and wine as symbols of his own body and blood.
He has predicted Peter’s denial.
And then they all, except for Judas, have retreated to the garden of Gethsemane to camp for the night.
“And they came to an olive grove called Gethsemane, and Jesus said, ‘Sit here while I go and pray.”
33 He took Peter, James, and John with him, and He began to be filled with horror and deep distress.”
Jesus, like the Old Testament King David, is surrounded by body guards, if you will, in the midst of battle… but this time , it is with two rings of prayer support.
On the outer edge of the garden are the eight disciples, Inside his closest friends, Peter, John and James.
Jesus’ prayer reveals an inner struggle and sorrow at what lay ahead.
It is a struggle somewhat similar to the temptation in the wilderness.
‘My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death.”
Many times the Psalms had given Jesus words to express his prayer.
On this night, he partly quotes from Psalms 42 and 43:
‘O God my rock,’ I cry, ‘Why have you forsaken me? Why must I wander in darkness, oppressed by my enemies?’ Their taunts pierce me like a fatal wound. They scoff, ‘Where is this God of yours?’
Why am I discouraged? Why so sad?
I will put my hope in God!”
These Psalms accurately express the soul’s deep longing for God…at the same time they end with an affirmation of faith in a God who vindicates.
A God who is with us, in the time of trial.
So it is at this crucial moment Jesus expresses His anguish and he shares it with his three best friends.
“He went on a little farther and fell face down on the ground. He prayed that, if it were possible, the awful hour awaiting him might pass him by.
36 ‘Abba, Father,’ he said, ‘everything is possible for you.
Please take this cup of suffering away from me.
Yet I want your will, not mine.”
In Jesus’ day standing with hands lifted was the usual posture for prayer, we can only guess the anguish of his soul as he fell with his face to the ground praying.
And Yet at the same time, he trusts God enough that he can call on him in the most intimate of ways, Abba, Father.
Is there another way?
The answer is no;
It is not possible for Jesus to be the Saviour, Lord, Messiah, God with us, and avoid drinking the cup of suffering.
This moment of greatest intimacy with his Abba Father, his desperate prayer to an all powerful God who could save him, is also the moment that clinches His fate. He must face the cross.
‘Yet I want your will, not mine.’
This sums up all of Jesus’ life and ministry.
Obedience to His Abba, Father, and that obedience was perfected on the Cross.
We should remember that Prayer and obedience are two sides of the same coin.
“Then He returned and found the disciples asleep. ‘Simon!’ He said to Peter. ‘Are you asleep?
Couldn’t you stay awake and watch with me even one hour?
38 Keep alert and pray. Otherwise temptation will overpower you. For though the spirit is willing enough, the body is weak.”
The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.
We know it only too well.
So Jesus rebukes the disciples for falling asleep on the job.
We can never trust in the strength of human nature.
“Then Jesus left them again and prayed, repeating his pleadings. 40 Again he returned to them and found them sleeping, for they just couldn’t keep their eyes open.
And they didn’t know what to say.”
Even the usually vocal Peter is lost for words.
“When He returned to them the third time, He said, “Still sleeping? Still resting? Enough!
The time has come. I, the Son of Man, am betrayed into the hands of sinners.
Up, let’s be going. See my betrayer is here!”
Like the three temptations in the wilderness the third visit to the sleeping disciples gives a sense of finality and completeness.
There is no turning back now.
The crisis of decision is over, Jesus has pushed through in prayer.
However just then, Judas the betrayer arrives with his own group.
We know the story:
Jesus will be abandoned by all of them, betrayed with a kiss, and taken captive in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Let me say this as we close:
There is another Garden that figures prominently in the Bible.
Of course it is the Garden of Eden.
It was the home of the first man, Adam.
The New Testament writers describe Jesus as the Second Adam.
Jesus: the second Adam, went into Garden of Gethsemane to restore what the first Adam had lost in the garden of Eden.
The first Adam sinned in the garden.
Jesus took this sin upon himself in the Gethsemane garden.
The garden of Eden had the tree of life.
Gethsemane brought Jesus to death on a tree.
Adam’s sin forfeited his right to the tree of life and brought death to all mankind. He who was crucified on the tree conquered death and by His resurrection restored the tree of life to all who believe.
The beautiful garden where Adam fell has long since disappeared but there is a wonderful reversal coming!
Jesus who suffered in our place, alone in Gethsemane, will restore ALL things!
The curse will be lifted, the lion will lay down with the lamb (Isaiah 11:6-8), the dry lands will disappear, the earth will yield her increase abundantly (Amos 9:13), and Jesus will reign to bless His people in his forever kingdom in heaven. (Rev 21:3).
Rev. 22:1 Then the angel showed me a river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb. 2 It flowed down the center of the main street. On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, with a fresh crop each month. The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations.
Rev. 22:3 No longer will there be a curse upon anything. For the throne of God and of the Lamb will be there, and his servants will worship him, forever.
Contrary to popular opinion, the Christian vision of the future is not “other worldly”. It is “new worldly”.
St. John’s description of the new garden in the book of Revelation, is God’s original earthy dream, brought to completion, because of Jesus.