The Challenge of Easter: The Gethsemane Challenge

Acts 10:38-41 & Matthew 26: 36-46

Have you ever had to perform a task that was very challenging? This task tested your will power, you were not sure that you could accomplish the steps but you determined that you would pursue the task no matter how difficult it might get. I remembered accepting the task of leading a team of 4 families to plant our current church. The magnitude of the task overpowered me, just after I signed the lease for the new worship site.

The weight of the responsibilities seemed to multiple. How am I going to do this? What if it fails? Those were some of the questions that came to mind. But in that moment of feeling powerless the Holy Spirit whispered to me that He is in charge and He will give me what is necessary to perform the task. My requirement was to remind in prayer and be faithful to the task.

This Easter season I want to focus on the challenges that Easter had on Jesus and how we can embrace the challenges that this God of Easter is calling us into.

For many of us Easter has become a ritual. We look forward to fasting through Lent, worshipping on Palm Sunday, Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday. We have often focused our thoughts and worship around the Resurrection Morning. This truly is the focus and it is the resurrection that has sealed our hope of eternal life in Christ. But I want to take you a little deeper past the resurrection because indeed there was a struggle before the resurrection. The challenges to get to the resurrection were many but Jesus faced them and was victorious because He determined to do the will of God the Father.

Every challenge is manageable when viewed through the will of God. So, what is the challenge or challenges that God has placed at your feet? Accept it and fulfill the will of God.

Luke documented this in Acts 10:38-42, How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.  And we are witnesses of all that He did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him on he third day and made him to appear, 41 not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.  And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead.”

Our Christian walk is filled with challenges. We are always endeavoring to accomplish something. Let us look at the Gethsemane Challenge and see what truths can be applied to our everyday Christian walk.

Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem marked the final moments in His journey to Calvary. It is in the last moments leading up to fulfilling your task that the burden gets extremely heavy. The days following the triumphant entry Jesus gave may hints as to his intending purpose. His ultimately challenge was to do his father’s will. In the garden of prayer documented in Matthew 26:39, Jesus cried, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Here again, Jesus demonstrated that His purpose was to fulfill the will of God the Father. On the cross, He declared that it is finished, indicating that his mission was accomplished. The ultimate mission was to become the substitution for you and I.

Jesus was not afraid to die but I believe that the humanity of Jesus was on display in this passage. He knew of the pain of isolation. He would be isolated from his close friends and most of all, His father. This was going to be happening at the time of his greatest need. The weight of the sins of the world and the separation from his father was too much to bear. In thinking about this hour Jesus found a way to deal with the pain that he was experiencing. He found a way to always realign himself with the will of the Father. Here are six (6) things Jesus did in His effort to realign with the Father’s will.

1. Jesus found a place where he could meet God – verse 36

The verse tells us that Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane; Jesus found a place that was symbolic and meaningful but at the same time provided Him some isolation. It is important that as we continue in our journey that we find meeting places. These are places that we can pour out our heart to God. Places were we could be real with God. These are places that you will not be judged and looked down on. Jesus found a place call Gethsemane, a place of submission versus resistance. As with every aspects of Jesus ministry the significance of this place cannot be overemphasized. The meaning of Gethsemane is “oil press”. “At the Mount of Olives was a private garden which Jesus often had used as a retreat (John 18:2). Gethsemane means “oil press,” a significant name in the light of our Lord’s agony in that Garden.”[1] Your meeting place will provide room for you to be pressed into pure oil.

2. Jesus met his challenges with prayer – verse 36-39

The verse continues to say that Jesus told his disciples to “Sit here while I go and pray over there.”[2] Jesus wanted some personal time with His Father. As demonstrated throughout Jesus’ ministry, prayer was a key ingredient in his ministry. It was so pronounced that when He asked his disciples for what they wanted him to teach them they said teach us to pray. Prayer is a key ingredient in our Christian walk. We cannot face our daily challenges without prayer. We must get in the habit of praying for everything no matter how insignificant. Develop a prayer list and watch God answer those prayers. Everywhere Jesus went and no matter what he was going to do He always makes time to pray. He began his ministry with 40 days of prayer and fasting.

3. Jesus had people around him during his challenge – verse 37

Verse 37 indicated that Jesus had people around Him that He could share His burdens with. The scripture states, “And He took with Him Peter and kthe two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed.”[3] In the middle of our challenges we should find people that can help us pray. Sometimes they might fall asleep during the intercession but the fact that they have come to your Gethsemane is important. Not everyone can be with you at your Gethsemane. This is a place pressing. It the pure oil is going to come out of your soul you will undergo a pressing. If you could see past the pressing and see the end you will cry out press me Lord.

Jesus took Peter, James and John with him. These three have seen Jesus up close and personal. They have witnessed His glorification on the mount of transfiguration; they have had intimate discloser of Jesus ministry. And now at the time of the ultimate fulfillment they were the ones that Jesus took with Him. Not everyone that is around you can witness your moments of challenge. These challenges sometimes push you towards the point of giving up. Therefore, you must take care as to who you share your struggles with, because it can have lasting impact for both you and the hearer.

4. Jesus shared His burden or challenge with His friends – verse 38

Once you have Identified trusted intercessors do not be afraid to allow them to help you bear your burden. In verse 38 Jesus said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.”[4] Oh how we all need to have people in our lives that can hear and bear our burdens. Jesus found this in Peter, James and John. Leading up to this moment there was a sense that something was on Jesus’ mind. And now he was revealing it to His friends. Jesus recognized that His time remaining with His disciples was limited and He realized that they did not fully understand His purpose. It was here in the garden of Gethsemane that Jesus was going to fully reveal the struggles He is facing.

When facing ones own mortality you can understand the pain but when you have to face your mortality in place of others imagine the pain you will experience. I believe that Jesus was at this point, the weight of what He was about to undergo was heavy and He needed time with His father to walk through this part of the journey. When we are at our point of ultimate challenge as we turn to others for comfort and consolation we should turn to God first, who alone can help us accomplish the task. As we form these small groups I pray that lasting and meaningful relationships will develop. We need others to stay and watch with us. There is strength in numbers. Do not think you can fight the battle by yourself.

5. Jesus separated himself to be alone with God the Father – verse 38- 39

In verse 39 the Bible stated, “He went a little farther and fell on His face, and mprayed, saying, n“O My Father, if it is possible, olet this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, pnot as I will, but as You will.[5] Even in the company of his closest disciples Jesus still needed a more personal time with his Father. He went a little further and prostrated before God. The sense of insufficiency must have overcame him. He recognized that He needed His Father to help Him through the next level. You and I must not think we can fulfill God’s plan without God’s help. It is sometimes perplexing to see Christians claiming to be doing God’s will but pursuing it on their own terms. There is no greater help that that which comes from God. The Psalmist echoes this by stating in Psa. 121:2, “My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.” Oh how we can learn from this example, Jesus found a place and the time to be alone with God the Father. At the moment of deepest testing He found comfort in the presence of God the Father.

6. Jesus submitted to His father’s will – verse 39-46

Imagine knowing that you have ultimate power to counter any challenge. You have full knowledge of the severity of the task or challenge and you know with just one word you can stop it. You even know, that those you are going through this process to help do not even know they need help and even when they know they will turn their backs on you. How would you react? The pressure was great but Jesus submitted to the will of the father.

We too should learn to submit to the will of the Father. Even if we determine that it is not worth the effort we should still submit to the will of the father. Three times Jesus prayed if it is possible, olet this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, pnot as I will, but as You will. That should be our constant cry; Lord, I which this too will pass, I wish I do not have to do this and Lord please pass on me this time never-the-less whatever you want, Lord your will be done. In the end Jesus was able to face his challenge he said to his disciples in Matthew 26, “Behold, the hour 9is at hand, and the Son of Man is being sbetrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand.” [6] He face is destiny with a resolve; no matter what I will face I will go forward in the power of the Lord. You and I can learn from Jesus’ challenge and move forward and face your destiny.

As we face the challenges of our various situations let us imitate Jesus’ behavior. We can apply these 6 principles to any challenge that we are facing. I pray that you will allow the Easter Challenge to realign you to the will of God. For this realignment to occur you must:

  1. Find a place where you could meet God – verse 36
  2. You must meet your challenges with prayer – verse 36-39
  3. You should have people around you during your challenge – verse 37
  4. You should share your burden or challenges with your intercessory friends – verse 38
  5. You should separate yourself in order to be alone with God the Father – verse 38- 39
  6. Once you are alone with God submitted to His will – verse 39-46

This Easter will you face your challenge with a resolve like Jesus had one that said I would do what God’s will is for my life.

[1] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1996), Mt 26:31.

[2] The New King James Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Mt 26:36.

k Matt. 4:21; 17:1; Mark 5:37

[3] The New King James Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Mt 26:37.

[4] The New King James Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Mt 26:38.

m Mark 14:36; Luke 22:42; [Heb. 5:7–9]

n John 12:27

o Matt. 20:22

p Ps. 40:8; Is. 50:5; John 5:30; 6:38; Phil. 2:8

[5] The New King James Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Mt 26:39.

o Matt. 20:22

p Ps. 40:8; Is. 50:5; John 5:30; 6:38; Phil. 2:8

9 has drawn near

s Matt. 17:22, 23; 20:18, 19

[6] The New King James Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Mt 26:39–46.

Leave a Reply