Todayís passage in Luke 22, takes place in a garden called Gethsemane.
The word Gethsemane means "olive press" for this place is on the mount of Olives, a place of olive trees.
It is the place where Jesus was accustomed to go with his disciples after a day of ministering and preaching in Jerusalem.
Gethsemane was probably a remote walled garden where Jesus went often for prayer, fellowship, and rest with His disciples.
It is accessed from Jerusalem by crossing the Kidron Valley, which is a deep ravine separating the Temple mount and the city of David on the west from the Mount of Olives on the east.
The Garden of Gethsemane would have been above the valley on the eastern side and was probably about a mile from the upper room where they had eaten the Passover supper.
In order to get as full an understanding of Christís time at Gethsemane we will read about this event from not only the gospel of Luke, but also from the gospels of Matthew and Mark for each gospel provides us with unique information.
Luke 22:39-46, And he came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him. 40And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation. 41And he was withdrawn from them about a stoneís cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, 42Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. 43And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. 44And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. 45And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow, 46And said unto them, Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.
Matthew 26:-49, Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. 37And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. 38Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. 39And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. 40And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? 41Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. 42He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. 43And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy. 44And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. 45Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me.
Mark 14:32-42, And they came to a place which was named Gethsemane: and he saith to his disciples, Sit ye here, while I shall pray. 33And he taketh with him Peter and James and John, and began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy; 34And saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch. 35And he went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. 36And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt. 37And he cometh, and findeth them sleeping, and saith unto Peter, Simon, sleepest thou? couldest not thou watch one hour? 38Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak. 39And again he went away, and prayed, and spake the same words. 40And when he returned, he found them asleep again, (for their eyes were heavy,) neither wist they what to answer him. 41And he cometh the third time, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: it is enough, the hour is come; behold, the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42Rise up, let us go; lo, he that betrayeth me is at hand.
It is obvious that the primary activity of these passages is prayer, the prayer of Christ contrasted with the lack of prayer by the disciples.
We learn in Matthew and Mark, but not in Luke, that our Lord instructed the disciples to pray three times.
And they were given specifics as to what they should pray for.
They were to pray that they would not fall into temptation.
We know that Jesus prayed and persevered in prayer.
But the disciples did not persevere and we see that they failed in obedience to their Master.
Jesus spent most of the night in prayer, in fact He had three different sessions of prayer while the disciples slept.
How good it is to know that he is our intercessor with God the Father, and not the disciples.
Many in this world pray to those whom they revere, those who have been declared saints, but it is to Christ that we are to turn, not to saints.
One thing we have learned in our study of the gospel of Luke is that Jesus Christ spent much time in prayer and that much time was spent in prayer before important events occurred.
Jesus was praying when the Holy Spirit descended upon Him at the beginning of His public ministry as we saw in Luke 3:21.
Jesus was in prayer when He was transfigured before the three disciples as given in Luke 9:29.
But the time of prayer coming from the lips of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane is a time of prayer like none other recorded for us.
This time of prayer is the final act of our Lord Jesus Christ before he is arrested, tried and crucified.
This time at Gethsemane contains His last words spoken to the disciples, His final instructions to them.
We also see here at Gethsemane a Jesus different from what weíve seen thus far.
The disciples, Luke tells us, are overcome by sorrow, which shows up in drowsiness and sleep on their part for sorrow brought fatigue to the disciples.
Jesus said, according to Matthew and Mark, "My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: (Matthew 26:38; Mark 14:34).
But this did not bring drowsiness and sleep to Jesus Christ but brought him to prayer.
We see then a picture of Jesus at prayer who is exceedingly and emotionally distraught.
We did not see him in this condition as he calmed a raging storm on the sea of Galilee.
We have seen him face the opposition of demons with total calm.
We have seen him face satanic temptations, and the constant pressure of Jerusalemís religious leaders, with distress.
But here in the Garden it is a different Christ, a Christ on the ground, agonizing in prayer.
For something terrible was going to happen, and that something terrible he fully knew for it was the cross that he was destined to be upon, in order to fulfil his Fatherís will.
Jesus knew it, and the disciples were also beginning to understand for Luke tells us that Jesus found them sleeping for sorrow.
They had been so prepared for a certain outcome but that outcome was no longer to be and their hearts were filled with sorrow and sleep was their only comfort.
Jesus knew what was to come.
He had told Judas "That thou doest, do quickly."
All things were in place.
He and his disciples, less Judas, came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives.
Remember how secretive Jesus had been about the location of the place where the Passover meal was to be celebrated.
There was to be no interruption of that time but this time was different.
He was completely open and predictable about the place where He would be on this unique night.
He did not depart from his usual custom, and he and his disciples acted according to a very predictable pattern.
This is understandable when you think about how predictable we become in everything we do.
Are you sitting in a strange pew this morning or have you found that comfortable predictable place you usually find each Sunday morning.
My wife and I call each day ground hog day.
But Judas, knowing the place that Jesus chose, would know exactly where to lead the arresting officers for he would lead them to the place where they had stayed every night.
Jesus took no precautions against that plan for it was the time for Jesus to be betrayed, it was the time to do the Fatherís will.
He will be taken, but it is not by any surprise at all, for he gave himself up willingly.
But before that was to happen communication with the Father was paramount.
Communication by himself and also by his disciples.
Both needed this time for different reasons.
He instructed his disciples that they were to pray, not for him, but for themselves.
They were not to pray for Him for they certainly would have prayed for other than the will of the Father.
They would have prayed that this cup be taken from Jesus.
Jesus, not instructing His disciples to pray for him, instead instructed them to pray that they fall not into temptation.
There is no request for them to pray that Jesus not fall into temptation.
There was no danger that Jesus would forsake His path to the cross in providing Godís plan of salvation, for that was settled from eternity past.
We always see Jesus about His Fatherís business and that determined purpose to do the Fatherís will continues here
But three times Jesus urged His disciples to "pray that they would not fall into temptation," that is, that they would not succumb to temptation.
I think that the temptation that Jesus was talking about was the temptation to overturn the Fatherís will.
What was it they were sorrowful about?
It was that their ideas and preconceived notions about the kingdom were not to be fulfilled according to their desires.
Early on as reported in the gospel of Matthew, Peter had attempted to rebuke the Lord for speaking of His own death (Matthew 16:21-23).
We have just been witness to the events of the upper room where disciples debated among themselves as to who was perceived to be the greatest.
We also find Peter boasting to Jesus of his faithfulness, even though Jesus has already told him he would fall.
The temptation is that the disciples would attempt to resist our Lordís sacrificial death on the cross.
This in fact happened later that morning when Peter drew his sword attempting to resist the arrest of Christ (Luke 22:49-51).
If Peter would have been in prayer as the Lord instructed, no doubt this show of force against the Fatherís will would not have happened.
The disciples were going to be tempted to resist the will of God for the Savior and for themselves, rather than to submit to it, and that was the temptation that Christ told them to pray for the Father to take away.
So after directing his disciples to pray for themselves, Jesus went off from them, about a stoneís throw, and began to pray Himself.
We are told this time of prayer was in three periods and it took quite a bit of time.
But the gist of his prayer was this statement to the Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.
Now this is not a plea for Jesus to avoid the cross but a plea that He do the Fatherís will.
It is a last question before the next events take place that what Jesus is doing is indeed the Fatherís will.
He is asking the Father if He has changed His mind, as it were.
Our Lordís submission to the Fatherís will is never a matter that was in question.
If there is any question, it is what the Fatherís will is.
In one way, Jesus is simply seeking one last "reading" as it were as to what the Fatherís will was, not some attempt to avoid it.
By also asking this question Jesus is showing us that there is no other way to achieve the salvation of men.
Jesus is asking the Father whether or not there is any other way for the sins of men to be forgiven.
And by asking this and what actual events follow, God the Father is telling us that the way of the cross is the only way of salvation.
By this prayer of Christ we are emphatically told that there was no other way for men to be saved than through the innocent and substitutionary suffering of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus had said it before. He is the way, the truth, and the life.
No man can come to the Father, except through Him, except through faith in His death on Calvary, in the sinnerís place.
We see by this Gethsemane prayer that if there were any other way of salvation that Jesus would not have gone to the cross, and the Father would not have sent Him.
If there were any other way to avoid this cup the Father would have done that for the cup which Jesus talked about was a dreaded cup.
if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.
There are passages in the Bible that tell us of this cup of dread.
Psalm 75 tells us that all of the wicked of the earth must drain and drink down its dregs.
So it is a cup for the wicked.
Isaiah 51 calls it a cup of Godís anger.
Jeremiah 25 tells us that the nations are made to drink of this cup and because of that will be made a ruin, a horror, a hissing, and a curse.
Revelation 14: 9-10, says this, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, 10The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb
So the cup which Jesus Christ so sorely dreaded was the cup of Godís wrath, poured out on sinners.
It is the cup which will be poured out on those who are unrighteous, whether they be Jews or Gentiles.
It is the cup of the wrath of God, beginning with the Great Tribulation, and enduring throughout all eternity.
The cup which our Lord dreaded drinking was the wrath of God, manifested in eternal torment.
No wonder our Lord was "sorrowful and troubled" (Matthew 26:37), and His soul was "overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death" (Matthew 26:38).
Jesusí agony was due to the cross which loomed before Him.
He was not in agony because He would be forsaken by men, but that He would be forsaken and smitten by God.
Jesus was dreading, suffering in the anticipation of His bearing of the sins of the world and the wrath of God which they deserved.
This text tells us that because Jesus bore the wrath of God (the "cup," as it were) in the sinnerís place, it is 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, and yet died in their place, bearing the wrath of God which their sins deserved.
Those who reject Christ and His atoning sacrifice must bear the wrath of God, which will be poured out on unbelievers in the future.
It is this wrath to which the Book of Revelation refers.
Christ saved those who believe on Him from that wrath for he took that wrath upon himself.
No Christian will go through the Tribulation which is the future outpouring of Godís wrath upon unbelievers.
The Great Tribulation is a horrifying repeat of the agony of Calvary, which men must endure because of their rejection of the Savior, and it will only come upon unbelievers.