Sermon Manuscript . . .
GOOD FRIDAY 2020
Mark, under the oversight of the Apostle Peter, gave us the very first New Testament gospel, the book of Mark. In chapter 14, verses 32 and following, there is an event which shocks the reader over the weight of the sacrifice to shortly come. The first communion service has just occurred in the upper room and Christ and His men have retreated to the garden of Gethsemane to pray. Christ has yet to be arrested. But it is here, possibly more than any other time, when you realize the great sacrifice which is about to occur, and the cost which was paid for your salvation.
Listen to these words in verses 32 to 36, “They came to a place named Gethsemane; and He said to His disciples, ‘Sit here until I have prayed.’ 33And He took with Him Peter and James and John, and began to be very distressed and troubled. 34And He said to them, ‘My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death; remain here and keep watch.’ 35And He went a little beyond them, and fell to the ground and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass Him by. 36And He was saying, ‘Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.’ ”
This place was a favorite getaway for Christ and His men and Jesus comes here one last time. But it is here where Jesus experiences a divine struggle. After the cross, this is the greatest moment of agony the world has ever seen. It’s an intimate and profound look at God Himself. It is open heart surgery on Jesus Christ. You will see things here you can’t see anywhere else. What is happening at this second greatest agony?
Christ, who is God-incarnate, is anticipating God’s wrath poured out on Him. Christ, who is perfectly holy, is readying Himself to become sin for us. And the pressure and sorrow is so great, it came close to killing Christ. This conflict is actually staggering to the God-man. It is so great, He asks His men to remain awake and pray for Him. And in order to have the support of intimate friendship and for this event to be recorded in the future, Jesus takes His closest friends, Peter, James and John, with Him to a secluded spot to support Him in prayer.
Verse 33b says, “and began to be very distressed and troubled. 34And He said to them, ‘My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death; remain here and keep watch.’ ” Focus on those three dramatic phrases–do you see them?
Distressed comes from a verb that actually means amazed. Now what in the world could amaze the all-knowing God? There is something the God-man has never experienced. This is completely alien to Christ. In fact, it causes Jesus to be . . .
Jesus says He is anguished to a level that cannot be comprehended. What is causing this? Judas’s betrayal, the disciples’ desertion, Israel’s rejection, the coming unjust trials, the mockery, scourging, crucifixion or dying . . . is that it? Those things do cause sorrow. But this amazed anguish is far more deep and painful to our Savior. What is it? Christ is anticipating His role as a sacrifice for sin–to become sin for you and me. To bear our sin upon Himself. This is completely alien. Holy God has never known sin–He can’t sin.
You and I know sin, from our dead nature, to our pleading with Christ to free us from its power and penalty–we know sin, its trouble, its lie, its consequence. But not the Son of God. Christ felt the full weight of temptation, but His holy nature, sinless purity, complete righteousness, and perfect obedience as God Himself never allowed Him to sin.
But here God is asking Christ to embrace sin as a sin bearer–not as a sinner, but as a sin bearer, to pay the wages of sin and to accept our punishment for sin. Second Corinthians 5:21, “He made Him who knew no sin, to become sin.” Isaiah 53:4 to 5, “He would be pierced for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities.”
This is more than Jesus died for me, friends–the punishment for sin is not only death, but bearing God’s wrath. And the wrath we deserve for our sin against God was not a momentary expression of wrath, but we deserved God’s wrath poured out upon us for all eternity. Our just punishment for our sinful nature and sinful choices is an eternity of God’s wrath against us. We deserve the torment of God’s wrath poured out on us in Hell forever. So when Jesus bears the wrath for our sin against Himself in our place, He’s bearing an eternity full of wrath for each believer. For every sinner He died for, Christ took that sinner’s eternal wrath. For the millions of sinners for whom He died, Jesus took a million eternities of wrath on the cross, and He bore that wrath for His children past, present and future all at once on the cross.
Now can you begin to get an idea of why Christ is experiencing amazed anguish? Now do you get why His struggle is so great? This is a divine holy pressure you will never experience, but it is a holy pressure that our Savior bore for you. It was so overwhelming, that Christ was also . . .
Third Deeply Grieved
Verse 34, “And He said to them, ‘My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death; remain here and keep watch.” Deeply grieved means being surrounded by sorrow–you are drowning in emotional pain. Deeply grieved tells us Christ is engulfed in this grief, emotion, and pressure. It is so bad, Christ is grieved to the point of death. Christ has reached the very limit of stress, emotion, grief, distress and anguish.
The Bible–God’s Word, always true, declares Jesus (right here) is about to physically die. Luke 22 describes the pressure so intensely on His body, that He began to sweat drops of blood. Luke 22:44, “And being in agony, He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground.”
HEMATIDROSIS–(heema TY drosis) under immense stress, the capillaries gorge, inflate and explode and the blood comes out of the sweat glands. This is the maximum amount of stress a human body can take. The pressure is so great, the Father actually sent an angel “to strengthen Christ” in order to rescue Christ from premature death in Luke 22:43. Christ might have bled to death from the stress of it.
And how could our Savior not be deeply grieved? Not only is our Jesus perfectly holy, yet about to bear the ugliness of our sin. Jesus is God, so our Lord knows the justice of God’s wrath against sin–and now He’s about to have a million eternities worth of God’s righteous wrath poured out on Him. He knows what’s coming. Christian, Jesus Christ did all this for you. In the midst of this battle, Jesus commands His closest friends, “remain here and keep watch” (verse 34b). What did they hear?
Verse 35, “And He went a little beyond them, and fell to the ground and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass Him by.” Jesus goes beyond the three in the garden and falls to the ground in prayer. His agony was so great, He could not stand up. When Mark says He went a little beyond them, Luke 22:41 clarifies Jesus is only a stone’s throw away from the disciples. Luke 22:41, Jesus “went to His knees”–and then in Matthew 26:39, He fell “to His face.”
Fell is a descriptive tense, capturing a vivid picture of seeing Him falling. The three saw our Lord, verse 35, fall to the ground. Can you imagine how they felt when they saw His knees buckling, then falling to His face, with blood dripping from His pores? Does Jesus cry or feel sorry for Himself? No–Christ prays. His prayer is not because He’s fearing a dark destiny, nor because of the physical suffering He will endure, but rather the horror of being separated from His Father as He bears the sins of the world. Jesus Himself is about to become the object for the Holy wrath of God against sin.
And in this prayer, Jesus is anticipating His coming cry on the cross in Mark 15:34. At the ninth hour, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” But what does Jesus ask here? Verse 35, “He began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass Him by.” Jesus is asking the Father, “Is there another way . . .”
1 Can I pass on bearing the weight of sin, and . . .
2 Can I pass on bearing your just wrath for the sins of your own, and . . .
3 Can I pass on breaking oneness in some manner with You, my Father?
The hour is coming–Your chosen time for My sacrificial death is about nine hours away. Can I let this hour pass me by? Can I fulfill My Messianic mission in some other way? But with the rest of Christ’s prayer in verse 36, you hear His divine heart. And He was saying, “Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.”
“Abba Father” affirms the incredible oneness and intimacy of the Father and the Son. “All things are possible” affirms God’s ability and power. “Yet not what I will but what you will” displays the submission and humility and dependence of the Son upon the Father. They both know Christ can’t miss the cross. The Trinity knows this has been God’s plan from the beginning. The Son knows without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. Jesus must drink the cup–the cup of God’s wrath.
Charles Spurgeon said it best. “It seemed as if Hell were put into His cup; He seized it, and, in one tremendous draught of love, He drank damnation dry.” Now you know what Christ did for you–being born a man, living a perfect life, but then bearing your sin, and God’s wrath for sin upon Himself on the cross. It is Good Friday because, it is God saving sinners like you and like me. It is Good Friday because it is when the greatest act of love ever occurred. It is Good Friday because Christ was willing to go through eternal agony as our substitute, in our place.
Salvation is the admission that you are sinful to the core and deserve eternal wrath in Hell. Salvation is the embracing of all that Christ did on the cross, then rising from the dead three days later. Salvation is being transformed by Christ so that you actually follow Him as Master for your entire life.