Sorry about my absence. I don’t have internet service at my new house yet. For those of you who have followed my blog for a while, we are now officially moved into our new house. God is good and He provides exactly what we need and when we need it. We would not have chosen the timeline that we experienced but we are convinced that He chose that timeline for a reason.
Here are my notes from my Junior Church Lesson on the Garden of Gethsemane.
Timeline of events
- Jesus is arrested
- Jesus goes before the high priest
- Peter denies Christ
Each of the gospel writers tell details about these events that the others don’t. By putting them all together we get a more complete picture of what happened.
Review - Passover
The Passover marked the Jewish New Year. It was the time of beginnings for the nation of Israel. The annual feast marked the historic event from when they were in captivity in Egypt. Great plagues had ruined the land of Egypt in Moses’ day. But these failed to get the Pharaoh to release the Israelites. God instructed the Hebrew people to select a lamb. The lamb was to be kept in their home for four days. On the 4th day the lamb was to be killed and its blood sprinkled on the doorposts of each Jewish home. The lamb itself was to be roasted and eaten. The night this happened, God’s death angel swept through the land of Egypt. Each home unprotected by the blood of the lamb suffered the loss of its firstborn son. But the homes marked with blood were safe as the angel of death “passed over” their home. This event caused Pharaoh to release the Jews. God then commanded them to remember this event and celebrate it each year. Each generation was to be taught that freedom only comes through the shedding of the blood of the lamb.
This specific Passover that Jesus and the disciples were celebrating not only looked back to the Exodus out of Egypt but also looked forward to the cross. (Remember John the Baptist called Jesus the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. - John 1:29)
Read Matthew 26:31 - 35
On the way out of Jerusalem, Jesus told the disciples that they would all flee and leave him to face his fate alone.
How did Peter react?
Peter said no way. He said he’d die with him before he would desert Jesus. All the disciples agreed with Peter.
Read Matthew 26: 36 – 46
What was the name of the garden?
Arrived at a garden called Gethsemane
What did Jesus ask His disciples to do?
Jesus asked His disciples to wait as He went aside to pray
He took three disciples with him a little farther – who were they?
He took Peter, James, and John part way with him.
What did he tell these three disciples?
He told them that he was overwhelmed and sad and asked them to keep watch with him.
Then what happened?
Jesus walked a bit further by himself
What did Jesus pray for?
He prayed for God’s will to be done.
It says He fell with his face to the ground. This is interesting because the typical Jewish prayer was said from a standing position. Here Jesus kneels perhaps to reflect his urgency and humility. Most pictures of Jesus show him with his hands folded or fingers entwined. This is probably not accurate. There was no such Jewish tradition.
Jesus was under a lot of pressure at this point. He knew what was about to happen.
What did Jesus ask His Father for?
Jesus is asking if the Father can create a way for Jesus to avoid the cross. Jesus’ desire was for the Father’s will to be done. He was saying only if my prayer can be answered within the scope of your plan do I want it answered. Only if the Father desires to do it. Jesus takes time to listen for an answer. He prays the same prayer three times. It was a long night in Gethsemane.
When we pray, we tend to toss God out our ideas of what should happen and ask Him to just approve our plans. Just tell me yes, God, and I won’t bother you anymore. We often times don’t seek God’s will.
Our prayers should not be for what God will permit to happen but for what God desires to happen.
The greatest temptation Jesus faced was to turn his back on the cross. As the cross drew nearer, the prospect of the spiritual death that he would suffer filled Jesus with terror. Luke talks about His sweating great drops of blood and His need for angelic assistance. (Luke 22:43-44)
There were two times that the Scripture talks about the Father dispatching angels to attend to Jesus’ needs.
What was the other time?
When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness.
What does he mean when He says “take this cup from me”
The word cup in often associated with the infliction of punishment associated with the wrath of God.
He ends His prayer with not my will but yours.
Jesus is telling God that His will comes first. Jesus is voluntarily surrendering to God. Jesus stated what he wanted – the cup to be taken away . He was honest before God but then he surrendered to what God’s will would be.
It is important when we pray to state what our own will is and then surrender that will to God. Then choose to be OK with whatever outcome God chooses.
When he finished praying he returned to the disciples. What were they doing?
They were sleeping
How did Jesus feel?
alone, sad, frustrated
Then Jesus spoke to one specific disciple? Who was that and what did Jesus say?
He told Peter to watch and pray that he wouldn’t fall into temptation. Notice that he doesn’t say to pray that they won’t be tempted but to pray that they won’t give into temptation. Temptation is part of life and you can’t escape it. You resist temptation through prayer.
Jesus was warning them of what was to come. They are about to undergo a crisis and they don’t even know it. They are about to see Jesus arrested. They are about to see him spat upon, tried, convicted, sentenced, crucified, dead, and buried. And most of them do not avoid the temptation that awaited them.
Then Jesus went away a second time to pray and when He came back what did He find?
The disciples were sleeping again.
Then Jesus left them a third time and went and prayed some more. What did He find when he returned the last time?
Are you still sleeping again?
Why did Jesus keep coming back to the disciples?
Perhaps he was seeking their companionship and encouragement. He was fully human and he could have just been seeking comfort. He didn’t even find that in his closest friends.
I’m about to get betrayed. Look here comes the man who is going to do it.
Read Matthew 26:47-56
Judas finally arrives with the arresting force. Using a signal, he identifies Jesus.
What was the signal?
How would you have felt if you knew one of your closest friends was betraying you? Judas had been one of the 12 disciples. Those disciples were with Jesus round the clock for the past three years. Judas had seen the miracles and heard all the teachings. Think about how Jesus must have felt. He knew all along that Judas was going to do this.
Then the Bible says that one of Jesus’ companions draws his sword to fight. (John identifies him as Peter.)
What does Peter do?
Cuts off the ear of the high priest.
How does Jesus react to Peter’s actions?
Jesus rebukes Peter and tells him to put his sword away. Luke 22:51 says that Jesus then healed the man’s ear.
Would you have done the same? I think I would have cheered Peter on. I know what the people are there for. Not Jesus, he willingly surrendered.
Jesus had preached that we were to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. He was now living out what he had said.
He tells them that if he wanted to be saved from this, he could call on the angels to save him. But Jesus knows that he must surrender in order for the Scriptures to be fulfilled.
What did the disciples do next?
They fled. They were afraid they would be arrested, too. So, Jesus was left alone with the men who had come to get him.
Peter was the only one who stuck around at all. He followed at a distance because he was afraid. He wanted to see what would happen to Jesus. (Luke 22: 54)
Read Matthew 26: 57 – 68
They took Jesus to Caiaphas, the high priest. The high priest was in charge of making a lot of decisions. They tried him at night which was an illegal act according to Jewish law. False witnesses were brought forward to accuse him but not even all their lies were enough for a death sentence.
Finally the high priest asked Jesus a question. What did he ask him? (verse 63)
“Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.”
How did Jesus answer?
“Yes, it is as you say.”
The high priest then recognized that Jesus had just equated himself with God.
He tore his clothes as a sign that he didn’t believe what Jesus was saying and said Jesus had spoken blasphemy. Blasphemy is a crime in the Old Testament and the punishment was death. Jesus knew that when he admitted to being God’s son. So, when the liars couldn’t get him, Jesus willingly gave the testimony that sealed his fate. They immediately started treating him like a convicted criminal. They slapped him, spit on him, and mocked him.
Read Matthew 26:69-75
So Peter took off after he heard what happened.
What happens with Peter next?
Three times people ask him if he was with Jesus and all three times he denies knowing Jesus.
Then the rooster crows and Peter remembers that Jesus had prophesied that this would happen. Peter starts to cry. How could he have done this to Jesus?
Principles from this lesson for us to consider:
- Jesus was strengthened by prayer.
- The way to the cross was far more costly for Jesus than we can possibly imagine.
- We are to do things God’s way and not our own way. We need to ask what God wants us to do and then do it.
- When betrayed by a friend, we need to love them and pray for them. We are not to strike back.
- We must learn to watch and pray so that we may resist temptation.
- We must stand for Jesus and not deny knowing him. That is harder to do than it is to say. Peter never planned on denying Christ but when the tough situation arose, he didn’t have the strength to tell the truth.
Choose your friends wisely.
- Do your friends have a relationship with God so that when you are in need of prayer, they can and will pray for you? Would they stay up all night praying for you if you needed it?
- Have you chosen good friends? Can you count on them when you are in a crisis? Do they help you grow in your relationship with Jesus?
Are you a dependable friend?
- Would you have fallen asleep when Jesus was counting on you?
- Do you spend time praying for the needs of others?
- Can you be counted on when your friends are having a difficult time?