BATTLE OF GETHSEMANE
by paul hoffmaster
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The Battle of Gethsemane was the doorway to Calvary and the securing of the “whosoever’s” forgiveness and consequent reservation in Heaven. So many times Christians overlook the struggle that Jesus went through on that night of nights in the Garden across the Kidron Valley. It was there that Satan would change his tactic from wanting Jesus crucified to challenging Him to reject the cross, thus thwarting God’s ultimate plan of reconciling fallen man to Himself. Satan had not forgotten the Battle of the Wilderness, where for forty days he had relentlessly tempted Jesus to reject God’s plan for mankind. Jesus withstood Satan’s endless temptations for over a month. Without physical nourishment, Jesus stood His ground against Satan’s attacks. At last, Satan released his final three temptations. Jesus responded with “It is written” and with that, Satan disengages the battle in defeat. The Bible states that he then left Jesus until an opportune time. He knew they would meet again and he would be ready. For the next three years, Satan would use anything and anyone at his disposal to hinder Jesus and His message. Demons engaged Jesus wherever He traveled. Whatever Satan threw at Jesus, nothing could impair the Living Word of God. Before the Last Supper with Jesus and His disciples, Satan entered Judas and influenced him to sell out Jesus for 30 silver coins. The Bible says that Judas was the treasurer of the group and that he was a thief, so to pick up a quick bag of money was quite enticing. (John 12:6)
Throughout Jesus’ three years of ministry, God was continually with Him, directing and leading Him. But from the time Jesus entered Gethsemane, He was on His own. Leaving eight men at the entrance of the Garden, He takes Peter, James, and John further into the Garden. He tells them that His soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death, and urges them to watch with Him. Going about a stone’s throw from His men, Jesus falls on His face and the battle of all battles begins. The Bible says that He is sore amazed, which is to be utterly astonished, to be filled with physical/mental anguish, to be filled with sudden wonder. (Strong’s Concordance) He cries out that if it’s possible, let there be a way other than the Cross. Between His sobs and retching He utters, “Nevertheless, not My will but Thine be done.” With sweat pouring down His body, He staggers back to His “watchful” disciples, only to find them asleep. He urges them to stay awake and pray. Returning to the battle, the intensity increases. All in all, He begs three times for God to offer another way. Satan is there telling Him it is not worth it to die for ungrateful people. The Bible says His sweat becomes like drops of blood. But every time, He gathers enough strength to proclaim, “Not My will, but Yours be done.” The battle rages and even an angel is sent to strengthen Him. Finally, He returns to His disciples and tells them the time has come and His betrayer is coming. He is seized and the way of the cross lies open before Him.
God did not answer Jesus’ cries for help. Paul would petition God three times to have his thorn in the flesh removed, and God answered by saying, “My grace is sufficient for you.” (II Cor. 12:9) But to Jesus, nothing was said. Oh, what love God had and has for this world. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…” He let His Son suffer that we might be forgiven and be called the children of God. On the cross, Jesus cried out, “My God, My God why have You forsaken Me?” God let it all happen and even watched His Son experience the consequences of man’s sin. Oh, how God loves us! Calvary was where, through Jesus blood, that the penalty for our sins was paid, but it was Gethsemane that made it possible. Let us never forget what happened there. Let us never forget the price Jesus paid for redeeming us. Let us never forget how much God loves us. God asks in return that we love Him with all our heart, mind, soul and strength. (Mark 12:30) Is that asking too much?
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