Easter 3) The Obedient King

The Obedient King

Text: Luke 22:39-47

 

Welcome to sermon three of Westside’s six-part Easter series! Now if you haven’t been here for the last couple of weeks, or you’ve somehow had a mental blank, we’re currently journeying through the last days of Jesus’ time here on earth, 2000 years ago, and are focussing on the KINGSHIP of Christ. Though Jesus isn’t the sort of King that we think of when we hear the word, he remains the king of kings. The Christ, the Messiah, the promised one. Though he wasn’t what his followers and disciples had in mind during his time on earth, he was EVERYTHING that God had in mind. So over the past couple of weeks Josh has brought us through the Gospels to see Jesus as firstly a humble king, who rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, and also as a sacrificial king, who came to die for his children. Now today we’ll be primarily going through the Gospel of Luke to see that, yes Jesus is a humble king and a sacrificial king, but also an obedient king.

Let me ask, when was the last time you heard of a king who was obedient to the will of others? Who selflessly submitted themselves to someone else’s will? Kings don’t do that…they’re the king, they’re the man, they’re the boss, they’re the one who calls the shots, they’re the top dog. They may be advised on things, but in the end…they make the final decision, they make the final call. But then we hear of Jesus the obedient king? Now this whole idea doesn’t really gel in our minds. But this is truly one of the things which makes Jesus unique in his Kingship. Jesus, the King of kings, was obedient, was submissive to the will of his Father in heaven. So we’re going to see from the passage Nick just read for us that Jesus is an obedient King.

 

And in coming to this truth we’re going to take a walk through the Garden of Gethsemane during one of Jesus’ lowest hours.  The Passover supper has just been shared and eaten and Jesus and his disciples have crossed the Kidron Valley to the Mount of Olives, and specifically to the Garden of Gethsemane. The cross now looms large on the horizon. Jesus will pray in the Garden, returning twice to His disciples, only to find them sleeping. He’ll urge them to pray that they don’t enter into temptation, before returning to His own agonising prayer. Jesus would then be arrested. The arrest of Jesus would lead to His trials, and then to His crucifixion. The cross was not only near in time, it was also heavy on the mind of our Saviour.

 

1) Just the Usual

But let’s focus in on the Garden of Gethsemane which brings us to our first point which I’ve entitled, “Just the usual” – it sort of sounds like we’re in a coffee shop. Now, as mentioned earlier, a major theme which comes out in this passage is about Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah, the King…but not only the King…but the obedient king.  Jesus was a different King. Jesus was obedient to his Father’s will!  Jesus was pressing on to His own cross out of obedience, even while in the Garden of Gethsemane. Luke tells us that Jesus  “went out AS USUAL to the Mount of Olives” (verse 39).  And we’re told that Jesus and his disciples “reached THE place”, not just A place but THE place (verse 40). This was all a part of the plan. Already in the first words of this story we can see that Jesus is an obedient King! How good is that!?

Let me explain, while Jesus had deliberately been secretive about the location of the place where the Passover meal was to be celebrated, He was completely open and predictable about the place where He would be on that God ordained night. He followed His custom, He acted according to a very predictable pattern. Judas would know exactly where to lead the arresting officers, at “the place,” the place where they had stayed every night. There’s no elusiveness here, there’s no vagueness! Jesus knew that it was his time to be betrayed and he was obedient to that fact. He’ll be taken, but it’s not by surprise. Everything is proceeding according to the plan of his father in heaven.

 

2) Jesus’ first act of obedience – Prayer.

 This brings me to my second point entitled “Jesus’ first act of obedience – prayer”. And we are flying! On reaching “the place” Jesus instructed His disciples to pray you’ll see there. And we can see that there was a specific purpose, and verse 40 tells us, “that YOU will not fall into temptation.” The disciples were to pray that THEY wouldn’t give in to temptation. And it’s important to note that Jesus didn’t conduct a prayer meeting here, he didn’t say “right guys let’s all find a nice patch of grass and sit in a circle and pray.” And Jesus didn’t ask His disciples to pray for Him either, as though he himself might give in to temptation. Jesus can’t give in to temptation, he’s God in flesh, to give into temptation would be sin! And God can’t sin.

But please understand me here, just because Jesus can’t sin, just because Jesus can’t give into temptation, this doesn’t mean that he couldn’t be tempted. Jesus was both fully God AND fully man! This means that his temptations were REAL, as real as ours - they appealed to his human desires.  Hebrews 4:15 says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses [the writer’s talking about Jesus here], but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.” Jesus was perfectly obedient, not because he wasn’t tempted but because he submitted himself to God, and resisted the devil who fled from him. Jesus finished his prayer by submitting himself to God’s will – submitting himself to the cross.

It was the disciples who were in danger of failing, not Jesus. It was the disciples who were in danger of giving into temptation, not Jesus.  Nowhere in this text (or any of the other Gospels for that matter) is there any reference to Jesus being in danger of forsaking His path to the cross. Why? Because Jesus was perfectly obedient! And Jesus was perfectly obedient because he submitted himself to the Father. And let me drive this point home, Jesus wasn’t perfectly obedient just because he was never tempted, we’re in danger of dehumanizing Jesus if we think temptation wasn’t real for him – Jesus really was tempted to bypass the cross – but the point is that he chose to do God’s will instead. Neither Jesus nor his plan of salvation were EVER in danger here. That had been settled in eternity past. Go and read the Gospel of Luke in one sitting and you’ll see that throughout the account of Jesus’ life, Jesus has a determined purpose which is to do the Father’s will, to go to Jerusalem, to be rejected by men, and to die. And that same determined spirit continues here.

According to the Gospels, Jesus urged His disciples three times to “pray that they would not fall into temptation,” that they wouldn’t give into it. Now you got to ask yourself the question, cause it doesn’t say it in the text,  what do you think the temptation was that Jesus was referring to?

Well it was a specific temptation, not a general one. And we can see this from the context of Jesus’ words. So what was it, in the context, that the disciples were in danger of doing, that was considered by Jesus to be giving in to temptation? The temptation was based on how the disciples thought the kingdom of God would come. Josh has said it in the past, the disciples had a completely different idea about what Jesus would do during his time on earth. They had a completely different idea about how he would usher his kingdom into this world.

They believed he was the promised Messiah, They believed he was the king sent by God, they believed he was the Christ, but they ALSO believed that he would come in and take the Romans by storm, that he would put a stop to the current oppression, that he would triumphantly defeat all of God’s enemies including the Romans. Their view of Jesus’ purpose on earth was distorted.

Yes, Jesus would be triumphant, but it wasn’t just over the Romans...in the way that the disciples thought…it was over Satan, and sin, and death. This was God’s grand plan of salvation. And Jesus would do this, not by storming the castle so to speak, but by being obedient to the Fathers will…by dying on the Cross for the sins of the world, in accordance with his Fathers plan.

In Matthew 16, Peter had attempted to rebuke Jesus for speaking of His own death. However, this isn’t recorded in Luke’s Gospel. In Luke’s Gospel, in the immediate context of Luke’s gospel we find the disciples debating among themselves about who was the greatest, like Jesus’ kingdom was about to be set up on earth. We also find Peter boldly assuring Jesus of his faithfulness…that he would never leave his side, even though Jesus has already told him he would fall. The danger is that the disciples would attempt to resist Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross, this is even happening when Peter drew his sword in an attempt to resist His arrest later on in the chapter we’re reading from.

The disciples were going to be tempted to resist the will of God for Jesus and for themselves, rather than to submit to it. And this is why Jesus told them to pray that THEY wouldn’t fall into temptation. It wasn’t Jesus who was running the risk of being disobedient, but his disciples. He didn’t ask his disciples to pray for him, that he wouldn’t fall into temptation that he wouldn’t fail in his walk to the cross. Jesus’ obedience was never wavering.

Having told his disciples to go and pray for themselves, Jesus went off from them, Luke tells us about a stone’s throw away, and began to pray Himself. And his prayer can be summed up in Luke 22:42 when he says, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”

 What was Jesus praying for here? What’s He asking from God the Father? Is Jesus, at the last moment, trying to escape from His commitment to go to the cross? Is he bailing? Is he having second thoughts? Is He seeking to change the Father’s mind? Does the fate of all mankind hang in the balance here? Was there a very real danger that Jesus might change His mind? That Jesus would not be obedient to the Fathers will?

Well let me point out first of all that it wasn’t Jesus who was in danger of changing His mind. Jesus was seeking to learn from the Father what His will was. Jesus was being obedient. Jesus was, all along, committed to doing the Father’s will. Jesus has not changed His mind about obeying the Father. Jesus was probing the matter of the cross with His Father to see if there was any other way to achieve salvation for sinners. Jesus is asking the Father whether or not there is any other way for the sins of mankind to be forgiven. But the answer is obvious. The purpose and plan of God stood firm, and Jesus faithfully pursued it. In obedience to the Father’s will.

Let me pause for a moment to underscore this very important point: THERE WAS NO OTHER WAY FOR MANKIND TO BE SAVED THAN THROUGH THE INNOCENT AND SACRIFICIAL SUFFERING OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. Jesus had said it before. He was the way, the truth, and the life. No man could come to the Father, except through Him, except through faith in His death, in the sinner’s place.

How often we hear people today speak of the cross as a way, just one option among many to attain eternal life. Let me say that if there was any other way to be saved, Jesus would not have gone to the cross, and the Father would not have sent Him. The prayer of Jesus that we read about in the Garden of Gethsemane just highlights the fact that there is only one way, and that way is the shed blood of the obedient but sinless Saviour, spilt for sinners.

Let me ask you, As Jesus asked his disciples to turn to God in prayer, and as Jesus himself in perfect obedience turned to God in prayer, do you do the same? Especially in the face of temptation, do you turn to God in prayer, or do you tend to role with it, do you just give in and satisfy yourself. Do you bow down, do you obey your sinfulness?  Like the disciples who were tempted to resist the will of God, do you resist the will of God in your life? Well let me tell you, you’re kidding yourself if you say you’ve never been tempted to steer away from Gods will for your life!

As humans we have a natural (sinful) tendency to do our will instead of God’s will, to fulfil our own purposes and dreams, to meet our own desires and wants. We love doing what we want. We love fulfilling our own desires. We love building our castles. We love upgrading our lives. We love the thought of other people being impressed by what we’ve built or achieved or done. But just because we love it, doesn’t mean it’s right and God honouring. We need to pray that we’re not tempted into doing our own will instead of God’s will in our lives.

“But Jeremy”, you might say, “How am I supposed to know the difference between God’s will and my will for my life?” And I would say to you, well pray and find out! Find a quiet place, close those eyes and spend time with God in prayer. And more than just once. Spend time in his word. And more than just once. If you do these things, you will in turn find God’s will for your life, you will in turn become more in tune with the voice of God. Its not rocket science! In fact it’s not science at all!

Also, you need to be careful that you don’t let yourself twist things into a way that makes it sound like it’s the will of God. But fully knowing close to your heart that it’s your own will and desire.

Some extreme examples to paint the picture for instance may be, “honey, we need that boat because I’d like to use it for events at church,” or “It’s probably not a bad thing to look at some porn if I am going to understand what some of the young guys in our community are dealing with”, or “I need to start drinking a bit more so I can eventually share the gospel with my buddies from work,” or “I should probably spend a bit of time on Facebook looking into people’s lives, whether they know it or not – this way I can add them to my list of people to pray for.” And it goes on. So be careful of this. Don’t twist your will so it looks like God’s will.     

We need to turn to God in prayer and ask what his will is for our lives. All the time! In order to overcome our temptation, we need to pray. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” And that way out is prayer. Talk to God. Talk to God about what you’re going through, what you’re feeling, how you are struggling, what your desires are.

And as a practical measure, when being tempted in the moment, stand up. Walk out the room. Walk out of the meeting. Walk out of the shop. Walk out of the moment. Go outside. Get some fresh air. Pray to God. Still feeling tempted? Pray again. Still feel a desire to do your will? Keep praying. Wait on God, read his Word, and he will speak to you. This is what you can pray, “Jesus, HELP ME! Help me to overcome this temptation before me. Your word tells me that I can overcome this temptation in your strength. Fill me with your Spirit, renew my mind, and redirect my eyes to you and your will for my life. Amen.”  

 

3) Jesus Shows Obedience by Drinking the Cup

Now getting back to our text, and coming to our third point entitled  “Jesus shows Obedience by Drinking the Cup”, we also need to note from Jesus’ prayer in the Garden that He greatly dreaded…“the cup” it says. And that it was this “cup” that Jesus was asking to be removed, if possible. We need to ask ourselves, why is “the cup” such a dreaded thing? I mean, I like cups, especially when they’re full of Vanilla Coke. Well we need to first ask, what is “the cup” that Jesus was referring to? And we can see the answer so clearly in the Bible. There’s many passages in the Bible that speak of this “cup” that Jesus dreaded so greatly, so let’s check out just two, enough to see that Jesus’ dread was fully justified.

Isaiah 51:17 says, “Awake, awake! Rise up, Jerusalem, you who have drunk from the hand of the Lord the cup of his wrath, you who have drained to its dregs the goblet that makes people stagger.”

 Revelation 14:9-11 says “A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives its mark on their forehead or on their hand, they, too, will drink the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. They will be tormented with burning sulphur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb.”

So what’s “the cup”? It’s the cup of God’s wrath, poured out on sinners. It’s the cup which will be poured out on those who’re unrighteous, those who have turned their backs on the Christ. It’s the “cup” which was foretold in the Old Testament, and which is still prophesied in the Book of Revelation. It’s the cup of the wrath of God, which will be poured out at Christ’s return and will endure throughout all eternity over those who have rejected God. The cup that Jesus dreaded drinking was the wrath of God, manifested in eternal torment.

No wonder Jesus was “sorrowful and troubled” as Matthew 26:37 puts it, and His soul was “overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” it goes on to say. Jesus’ agony was because the cross loomed before Him. He wasn’t in agony because He would be forsaken by his disciples and the nation of Israel, but that He would be forsaken by God. That God would pour out the cup of wrath upon him. I mean, he would have been upset that his disciples abandoned him, and God’s people rejected him, but it just wasn’t on the same scale.

Jesus was full of sorrow and dread because he knew he would need to bear the sins of the world and the wrath of God which mankind deserves. Yet, even in the face of this fact, he remained obedient.

This text tells us that because Jesus bore the wrath of God, “the cup,” as it were, in the sinner’s place, it’s not necessary for men to drink this cup as well. Salvation comes when a person comes to faith in Christ as the One who was innocent, the one who in obedience died in their place, bearing the wrath of God which their sins deserved. We don’t drink the cup of God’s wrath because Jesus drank it for us. When Jesus said “it is finished,” he may even have been referring to draining this cup. There’s nothing left in it for us to drain, it’s all gone! God harbours no anger against those who trust Jesus, there’s no wrath left for us, only God’s undeserved grace.

However, those who reject Christ and His atoning sacrifice must bear the wrath of God, which will be poured out on all unbelievers in the future. But if you put your faith and trust in Jesus, if you are his son or daughter, if you are bought by the blood of Jesus, you no longer need to drink the cup of God’s wrath, Jesus did that for you when he died on the cross.

 So what should we do in response to the obedience of Jesus which led him to die in our place on the cross, which led him to drink the dreaded cup of God’s wrath out of obedience to the Fathers will? What should we do? How should we respond to this? Well we ourselves should show our obedience, should show our full submission to the Fathers will in our lives. We should live for God and his purposes. Out of a response of what Jesus did for us, out of a response to the obedience that Jesus showed when he drank the cup of God’s wrath in our place. But what does our obedience look like? What are some practical ways we can submit ourselves to God and his will for our lives? Well our obedience and submission to God isn’t always easy. I mean, sometimes we’re on fire for God, we’re living for Jesus! We’re doing his will! We’re submitting our lives and being obedient and sensitive to God’s purposes in our lives.

But then at other times. We’re a total mess. We’ve completely lost the plot. We forget what it means to submit to God and often we don’t care! We’re too preoccupied with our own lives.

But in the face of our total mess moments, let’s have a look at some practical ways that will help us head to a life of obedience and out of submission to God in response to what Jesus did for us on the cross:

Firstly, it will help if we strive to love God and read his word daily. Be undivided, be zealous because a love for God will incline our hearts to obey him. Jesus says, “If you love me, you will obey my commandments.” So a love of God will lead to a life of obedience.

Secondly, try and memorise and recall Gods Word! Get that brain ticking, and when you have memorised parts of the Bible, start audibly saying them throughout the day - whether you’re at home, at work, or out and about, recall God’s word, his gospel, his grace. People might think you’re going crazy because it looks like you’re talking to yourself but if you study and recall the Bible you will know God more and his promises for you – and this will lead to a life of obedience.

Thirdly, continually admire God for who he is and what he has done through Jesus and is doing every day in your life. Its healthy for your heart to often be in a position of admiration of God and what he has done for you - because out of this comes a desire to respond with your own life in obedience and submission.

Fourth, ask God to continually teach you more! Sit under as much sound biblical teaching as possible. Whether that be on Sunday morning, through reading books, by listening to Podcasts, by watching YouTube…Pray and ask God to teach you through various forms. Because by learning more and applying it to your life, your desires will change, your heart redirected to a life of obedience.

And fifth, communicate God to others. Declaring Gods word to others not only benefits them, but also yourself. It’s an effective way of keeping your eyes fixed on Him, teaching yourself, sharpening yourself, reminding yourself of God’s grace in your life. And this will lead to a desire to live in obedience and submission to God’s will. So try these practical things which will help head to a life of obedience in response to what Jesus did for us on the cross.  

 

4) Strengthened To Obey

This leads us to our final point entitled “Strengthened to Obey”. We then get to verse 43 and 44 where it says that “an angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.”

The Greek term “strengthened” is found one more time in the New Testament, in Acts 9:19, where Paul was said to be “strengthened” after taking some food, after his three day fast. And here, it’s obvious that Paul’s strengthening was physical. I mean this guy needed something to eat. Imagine not eating for three days, how shaky would you feel? Well this goes to show that Jesus’ strengthening by an angel in verse 43 was also primarily physical.

But why would Jesus have needed physical strengthening here? Well Matthew and Mark both tell us that Jesus was sorrowful to the point of death. And I don’t know about you but I take this very literally, and not in some metaphorical sense. Luke, a doctor mind you, tells us that sorrow was the cause of the disciples’ drowsiness in verse 45. And if these disciples were sleepy from their sorrow, with as little knowledge of the situation as they had, how do you think the sorrow of Jesus must have affected Him.

And Luke doesn’t leave us to our imaginations here. He goes there. He tells us in verse 44 that Jesus’ agony was so great that “his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” “Hematidrosis” is a rare, but very real, medical condition where one’s sweat will contain blood. The sweat glands are surrounded by tiny blood vessels. These vessels can constrict and then dilate to the point of rupture where the blood will then effuse into the sweat glands. It’s cause – extreme anguish and stress!

Jesus’ sorrow was so great that He was virtually at the point of death. And I’m not sure that Jesus would have even died on the cross if it wasn’t for the angel that God sent, He would have died in the Garden of Gethsemane. His agony was so great at the thought of the cross and all that it implied, Jesus was sorrowful to the point of death. Though Jesus was God, he was also very much human, and the agony he was experiencing would have had a toll on his body.

So the physical strengthening was meant to carry Jesus on through all of the physical and emotional demands of His arrest, trials, and crucifixion, but also to sustain Him through His night of prayer. And we can see this in verse 44, after He was strengthened, Jesus returned to His prayer in the garden, praying, as Luke tells us, even “more earnestly.” This also shows us that even though Jesus’ human body was beginning to shut down because of his degree of suffering. His obedience to the Fathers will still never wavered.

 So we can now ask the question, how does God strengthen US to serve him and obey his will in the context of our passage today? Well God strengthens us in many ways…but two ways he is strengthening us in the context of the Garden of Gethsemane account is through our temptations and trials, and also through the Gospel.

So firstly, God strengthen us through our temptations and trials. Just as Jesus and his disciples were tempted in the Garden of Gethsemane, so are we. But God strengthens us through this.

James 1:2-4 says “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” Temptations and trials in our lives will be there – they’re a given. We need to learn to be content in in our trials, because they produce strength. Trials and temptations are a means that Jesus uses to “train” us, they produce strength and endurance. God uses the trials and temptations in our lives to bring us to the end of ourselves, so that we can say that Jesus alone is our strength, and in his strength, we can live a life of obedience, submitting to God’s will in our life.

And secondly just to finish, God strengthens us through the Gospel! Romans 16:25-27 says, “Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from faith— to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ!” God uses his Gospel to strengthen believers so that they will persevere in the obedience of faith and draw all attention to the glory of God. What’s the gospel? It’s the Good News that Jesus is everything. It’s the power of God. The Good News that Jesus has come, lived, died, and ascended is something that we are in constant need of reminder! The Gospel strengthens us in our faith, in our hope, in our love, and in our passion for Jesus. The Gospel strengthens us in every aspect of our lives. No matter what your situation or circumstance, not matter where you are, no matter how down and out you are, Christ is our strength, and he is strengthening us through suffering, trials and the gospel. And when we recognise these things we can proclaim, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Amen.

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