Sermon by Rev. Trevor Johnston
Lenten Series, Week 2 – The Garden – The School of Gethsemane

Lent is a time for introspection, a time to prepare our heart and renew our commitment to Christ.  In this Lenten sermon series, we are looking at some of Jesus’ most difficult moments on earth to see what we can learn from how He handled them.

  1. What do you tend to do when you’re facing difficulties?
  1. Read Matthew 26:36-46: Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.”

37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” 

40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”  43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 

44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.  45 Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners.  46 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”

  1. What questions or comments come to your mind as your read this passage?

Jesus’ struggle in the Garden of Gethsemane teaches us several lessons about how to get through difficult times in our own lives.  The first lesson is in Matthew 26:36-39.
LESSON 1 – You need friends

When Jesus refers to “this cup,” it’s a metaphor for his upcoming crucifixion.  He knew that He was going to experience a brutal, awful, painful death and take on the sin of the world, which would then separate Him from His Father – something so horrible that we can’t even imagine it.  As Jesus anticipated that, He wanted to be with some of His closest friends.

  1. Note that Jesus’ life included solitude, but it was not a solitary life. What is the difference between “solitude” and “solitary”?
  1. Each of us should have some people we could call in a tough time to pray for us and support us.  Note that Jesus didn’t hide His moment of weakness and struggle from His closest friends. Why do we sometimes hide our struggles from our friends?

The next lesson comes in Matthew 26:40-41:
LESSON 2 – You need to be connected to God’s strength

6. Jesus asked His disciples to stay awake and pray with Him, but they kept falling asleep. Jesus says of them, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”  What does Jesus mean by that?

7. When we are going through a difficult time, how do we connect to and receive God’s strength? What are some ways you’ve experienced God’s strength in a difficult time?

8. Craig Keener says, “One’s best intentions cannot protect one in the time of severest testing, unless one has learned how to seek God in prayer.” What does he mean by that?

9. Note that as Jesus repeated His prayer over and over to His Father, it gradually changed from:
My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.
My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.

What was taking place inside of Jesus through this time of prayer?

This leads to the third lesson in this passage:
LESSON 3 – The Prayer of Relinquishment

10. What do we mean by “the prayer of relinquishment”?

11. Andy Stanley said: “(I am) way more inspired by the people who have the kind of faith that endures a ‘no’ from God than those who claim their faith arm-twisted ‘yes’ out of him.”

The more mature you are spiritually, the more you understand that prayer is not a tool to get what you want, but rather it is a way to communicate with God and let Him change your desires to be in line with His desires.
Share about a time when you started out praying for a situation to change, but in the process of praying about it, God ended up changing your heart and desires.

12. Pastor Trevor gave us three things to remember about the prayer of relinquishment. Discuss these three points, explaining what he meant by each one.

  • It’s a process. Keep praying.
  • Acknowledge then release your desires to God
  • Surrender to God’s will
  1. How do we surrender to God’s will? What does that look like?  What do we do?

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