Accompanying John MacArthur sermon: The Agony of the Cup
Accompanying Robert Rayburn sermon: Gethsemane
The Lord had told his disciples many times over the past year that he was going to Jerusalem to be arrested and killed. He entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday in a way designed to throw down the gauntlet to the religious authorities and to precipitate their plans to seek his death. His public teaching during the days of the Passion Week was such as to offend and provoke the priests and scribes still further. The Lord knew what was coming. Far from acting to prevent it, he hurried it along. He had come into the world precisely for this and his hour had come. No one took his life from him; as he once said, he laid it down of his own accord.
But, and this has often surprised and even troubled readers of the Gospels, before the cross came Gethsemane, a moment in which the entire matter of the Savior’s calling and purpose was reconsidered. As the agony of his death drew very near, the Lord passed through a crisis of his own. At this last hour, would he continue to surrender his will to that of his Heavenly Father? Would he continue on the course that had been set for him and that he had so obediently followed those past three years? As it turned out, our salvation – yours and mine – in a manner of speaking was won not on Golgotha or Calvary, but in an olive grove on the lower slopes of the Mount of Olives. Once the Lord Jesus finally and conclusively submitted his will to that of the Father in heaven, the triumph of the cross was assured. But that submission was itself an act of supreme and terrible self-surrender.
Rayburn brings up a few mysteries about this passage, including how Jesus is very clearly "man" in this passage, having set aside His deity.
He also makes a great point that it is not suffering and death that Jesus is dreading here. Obviously, He's not looking forward to it, but that's not the cause of this struggle. (Sorry this quote is so lengthy, but I had not really thought of it in this way before, and really appreciate this perspective).
“…of one thing we may be certain: it was not fear of death that made Jesus shrink. Many martyrs have faced the last hour unflinching with a song upon their lips – and Jesus was braver than them all. It was not death that made him cry to God; it was sin. It was the shame of all the world, the burden of all the sons of men, which in that dread hour he was taking upon his own sinless heart. It was the sudden sense of sin’s sheer horror and loathsomeness and Godforsakenness. It was, as Paul with characteristic daring expressed it, one who ‘knew no sin’ being ‘made sin’ for men.” [J.S. Stewart, The Life and Teaching of Jesus Christ, 150-151]
Monday's scripture focus: Mark 14:43-52
Sunday's passage: Ezekiel 45-46
Monday's passage: Ezekiel 47-48, 1 John 4