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Dec 1 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

November 27, 2011

And He came out and proceeded as was His custom to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples also followed Him. When He arrived at the place, He said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” Luke 22:39-40 (read vv. 39-71)

INTRO: If you have been to Israel, remember what it looked like and felt like when you were on the Mount of Olives

That is where we catch up with Jesus in this story
– what do we learn from being here and witnessing these events?
– but before we make that discovery . . .

Do you have a secret — a secret fear? longing? sorrow? experience? pain?
– the reason we keep secrets is because we don’t trust others:

  • that they can deal with it
  • that they can help with it
  • that they will be able to understand it

Some secrets we keep from ourselves (the Greek word for secret also means hidden)
– so then we remain blind to what drives us – we never figure out why we act as we do

One more jump and then we’ll begin tying all of this together . . .

Every human has certain basic needs – if not met we either
– try to meet them ourselves (but without the necessary  skills or know-how)
– or we go through life with an emotional disability or at a social disadvantage
– our basic needs include:

  • safety – protected from pain, injury, illness
  • love and belonging – someone who is sensitive to the person
  • loyalty – network of support
  • affection – touch
  • acceptance, respect

The result of not having these met is some form of suffering
– our own suffering or that which we inflict on others

As we go through the passage, I want to point out how Jesus experienced the loss of these basic necessities

Verses 39-44, Jesus’ agony – the loss of safety

“. . . and the disciples also followed” — they had been following him ever since he first called them (5:11, 27) — following Jesus is what defines discipleship
– his instruction to them is brief and simple, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation”
– we are most vulnerable when something has triggered strong passions within us
Prayer can be used to release releasing emotional energy so we are able to regain our focus
– something was coming and they weren’t prepared – prayer would help divert them from temptation

“withdrew” and “knelt down”
– at times, we move away from others to draw close to God
– kneeling was not a formality or rule for Jesus — he did not observe formalities, but responded to the impulses of his heart in every situation

Jesus begins his prayer as a child, “Father”
– appeals to his Father’s heart, “If You are willing” – notice how this cry echoes the cry of the leper in 5:12
– he tells his Father what he wishes would happen — implicit in his request is the dread he feels
– he ends his prayer in surrender – he gives up his will for the Father’s

The wrestling in prayer is important – Jesus had to face the tension between the Father’s will and his own
– he surrenders, because he knows his Father can be trusted
– perhaps because he also knows that his human feelings cannot be trusted

What he learns is that his Father is not going to protect him from pain and death
– he has to go forward without a safety net

An angel came, not to rescue him, but to strengthen him to face the suffering ahead

Watching Jesus, we see something we have already learned for ourselves
– agony produces greater fervency in prayer

Luke does not give as much space to Jesus’ suffering as we find in Matthew and Mark
– but with one sentence, he reveals the immensity of Jesus’ emotional intensity
– sweat dropped like blood, as if he were pouring out his life

Verses 45-46, Jesus is alone – the loss of companionship

Verses 47-62, Jesus is abandoned – loss of anyone who cares

“While he was still speaking . . .”
– two horrible things happen this evening while someone is still speaking

  1. This moment, when Judas arrives with the mob
  2. The other, when for the third time Peter denies being with Jesus (v. 60)

That the next event overlaps someone’s speech indicates how quickly the wheels are now turning

The kiss was a customary act of greeting
– but using a kiss to betray a friend is a horrendous act of abuse

The sword – in our irrational zeal for Jesus, we inflict wounds
– it is a great blessing when he heals those wounds
“Stop! No more of this” – no more brandishing the sword and hacking away at people

Jesus points out the irony of this moment to the mob that came armed — as if he were a robber
– he had already pointed out, they had made the temple a den of robbers (19:46)
– he had taught out in the open each during the day, while those who came to arrest him were doing their dirty work at night
“this hour and the power of darkness are yours

Notice the verbs in verse 54 (they become even more aggressive in v. 63)
– during his arrest, Jesus spoke and the mob was silent – he was in control
– but now he is being led around and roughed up

Peter first followed “at a distance” from Jesus, but soon found himself sitting “among” the anti-Jesus crowd
– he got himself into a situation where he could not help but fail
– self-preservation overrode his devotion to his Lord
The cold drove Peter to the warmth of the fire where its light revealed his identity
– “with Him” – compare with verse 33 where Peter had said, “With You I am ready to go both to prison and to death!”

No one in this whole episode is sensitive to Jesus as a person
– and no one wants to be associated with him

v. 61, A glance that captures this entire tragic evening
– “wept bitterly” – this says a lot, doesn’t it?
– what thoughts or feelings were stirring in Peter that would cause him to weep bitterly?

Verses 63-65, Jesus is abused – the loss of affection

It is one thing to have to live without affection, but another to be abused
– abuse produces in us the opposite effects of affection

Verses 66-71, Jesus is accused – the loss of acceptance, respect

The purpose of the trial was to determine Jesus’ guilt – did claim to be the Messiah?
– it comes down to Jesus’ identity, which has been the theme that Luke has emphasized all along
“Who do the people say that I am?” (Lk. 9:18-22)

Jesus’ quotation recalls his riddle from same Psalm (Ps. 110:1, which he quoted in Lk. 21:41-44)
– it is fascinating that he refers to himself as the “Son of Man” and they say, “Son of God
– the answer to his earlier riddle is that the Messiah is both Son of Man and Son of God

“You say that I am” – as if to say, “This is your accusation, and I am confirming it for you”

Until now, Jesus had not made a public claim to be Messiah
– he does now, only when he is facing death — when it will do him no good and only lead to further harm
– in other words, when there’s no worry that making a bold declaration of who he is will interfere with his mission
– he can tell them now, because as he just said, “If I tell you, you will not believe”
– he now wants to go on record with his claim

CONC: Leo Tolstoy wrote in his diaries that he had spent time living with those who worked his land

He shared their tasks and rugged lifestyle to show his love for them and commitment to them
– when he asked them if they understood why he did this, they answered that it was all a show – he had no credibility
– the decisive factor for true solidarity was missing: At any time, he could choose to stop working and go home
– but they were trapped by the oppressive circumstances of their lives and were unable to fight or change them

When Jesus entered our human condition, was it just for show?
– the whole point of going over what he suffered as all of his basic human needs were denied is to grasp the real nature of his experience
– Jesus descended into our secret wounds and our most intense suffering

You have to know this! You are not alone

What is our natural reaction to suffering?
– the disciples illustrate it perfectly, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?”
– we want to lash out at someone or something — we want to fight

Usually in life we have to fight to get anywhere, to accomplish anything
– but when it comes to our inner life, only love can heal its wounds, only trust in God can protect us

The approach we take is the prayer of Jesus
– total surrender to the love of God
– “Heavenly Father, I can’t, but You can”

In the nineteenth century, Jean-Pierre de Caussade wrote, The Sacrament of the Present Moment
– the original title was, Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence
He said,

“No moment is trivial since each one contains a divine Kingdom …”
“But what is the secret of how to find this treasure . . .? There is none. It is available to us always, everywhere.”

Life has its demands, the things we must do anyway
– while meeting these demands and doing our work, we can enjoy the blessing of God’s nearness if we surrender to the will of God in each moment

This ability to live in moment-by-moment awareness of God is what we seek to develop and strengthen through our time in contemplative prayer
– this is how we move closer to the God who has come close to us through Jesus Christ

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