This is a sermon I preached at Capital City Rescue Mission on July 19, 2014.
Matthew 26:36-46 Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”
The point of this passage is the anguish, terror and suffering of of our Lord in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Listen to His words spoken to His disciples in verse 38.
Verse 38 “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death.”
The KJV says, “exceeding sorrowful.” the word “sorrowful” in the Greek carries the idea of being “overcome with sorrow so much as to cause one’s death.” And this is exactly what Christ says in verse 38.
Why is He overcome with sorrow? Why is He suffering such extreme terror and anguish? The answer is found in the very next verse.
Verse 39, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me…”
What is the “cup” referring to? It refers to the cup of God’s wrath.
The word “cup” that Christ uses often signifies the wrath of God in the Bible. For instance Isa 51:17; Job 21:20; Ps 11:6; Ps 75:8; Jer 25:15
Christ was about to suffer the wrath of God for sinners. He was about to drink the “cup” of God’s wrath intended for you and me?
Think about it for a moment. This holy and righteous man. God in the flesh, who was from eternity in sweet fellowship and communion with His Father, One who had never sinned, nor had ever experienced any guilt over sin whatsoever was about to experience the full weight of His Father’s wrath for sins that were not His own. And not just a a few sins, but the sins of the whole world!
This terrified Him. Why? Wayne Grudem in His book Systematic Theology
Now Jesus was perfectly holy. He hated sin with his entire being. The thought of evil, of sin, contradicted everything in his character. Far more than we do, Jesus instinctively rebelled against evil. Yet in obedience to the Father, and out of love for us, Jesus took on himself all the sins of those who would someday be saved. Taking on himself all the evil against which his soul rebelled created deep revulsion in the center of his being.
Having to take upon Himself our sins brought Christ overwhelming sorrow.
Think about the many times your own soul was overcome with sorrow from your own sins. Think about all the times you felt the weight of your own guilt and shame over the sins you committed. How horrible you felt. All of us with a conscience have experienced this.
Now imagine Christ, the holy One, Creator of the Universe, second Person of the Trinity, the God Man, perfect in righteousness and purity, about to take upon Himself the disgusting, putrid, rebellion and sin of the world “in his body on a tree,” 1Peter 2:24, 2Cor 5:21
But not only did Christ suffer overwhelming sorrow over bearing our sins in His sinless body, He also trembled in anguish over bearing the full weight of the wrath of Almighty God. Listen again to Wayne Grudem:
As Jesus bore the guilt of our sins alone, God the Father, the mighty Creator, the Lord of the universe, poured out on Jesus the fury of his wrath: Jesus became the object of the intense hatred of sin and vengeance against sin which God had patiently stored up since the beginning of the world….at the cross the fury of all that stored-up wrath against sin was unleashed against God’s own Son.
God’s wrath against sin is so terrible that it brought Jesus Christ, who is God in the flesh, to such anguish that His sweat was like great drops of blood, Luke 22:44. If the wrath of God terrified Christ for sins that were not His own, imagine the terror that sinners will face as they suffer the full wrath of God for their own sins.
Now, I want to apply this passage to three potential groups of people:
1. To those whom the Holy Spirit has awakened. You know that you are a sinner, and that you deserve the wrath of God. The judgement of God makes you tremble and quake with fear. You may even be questioning whether or not God will forgive you because your sins are too great. I want to encourage you not to be afraid to come to Christ. The reason that you feel the terror and guilt of sin is because God has awakened you, and if He has awakened you He will definitely save you. The arms of Christ are wide open. He has already drank the cup of wrath for your sins. He has already had the punishment of God poured out on Him for your sins. He was your substitute on the cross. Since He has already suffered for your sins, it is impossible for Him to turn you away.
Listen to His comforting words in John 6:37. He promises that He will never drive away anyone who comes to Him. God requires two things from us. First, that we obey His Law perfectly, without flaw. And second, that their be punishment for every sinner who breaks His Law at any point. This is bad news because all of us have failed to keep His Law, and are deserving of punishment. But there is good news! Because the very God who demands we keep His Law has done for us what He requires from us. He sent His Son to keep His Law for us. And then to go to the cross and suffer the punishment for every time we broke His Law! Again, it is impossible for Him to turn you away, because He has already drank the cup of wrath for you. The Father will gladly receive you, because His anger has already been poured out on His precious Son. Now by faith and faith alone you may receive this precious gift of forgiveness free of charge because Christ has paid the full cost required for your forgiveness!
2. The Second group I would like to speak to are Christians who are struggling with sin. Every Christian struggles with sin, and any one who claims to be a Christian and says that they don’t struggle probably is not a Christian, 1John 1:8. Christians can find great comfort and encouragement in this passage because Christ drank the cup of wrath. We never have to fear that because we struggle with a particular sin, or sins that God will put us on a shelf, or even abandon us. Satan however, often whispers in our ears saying, “Now look what you’ve done. You have gone too far now. God is angry with you beyond measure. He will never forgive you for this sin. He has given you chance after chance and you’ve blown it again! Don’t even bother going to Him for forgiveness. You are ruined. You might as well just quit.” Now it is true. When a Believer sins he or she does bring displeasure to the Father. But that should never discourage us from coming to Him forgiveness and mercy. Remember, He is no longer our great Judge, but our loving Father. His discipline in our lives is for our good. Hebrews 12:5. God will not put His children on a shelf, or abandon them. He will not waste the precious blood of His Son. Christ drank the cup of wrath for all the sins of God’s people. We have the promise of Philippians 1:6. We also have the assurance of our election: Ep. 1:4. Those whom the Father elected, or chose before the foundation of the world He will not ever abandon. We have these preciouse promises that speak of our election and are meant to bring us great encouragement and comfort; Ro. 8:28-29; 2Th 2:13. Election is meant to give us great encouragement by showing us that,
1. Our salvation is not dependent upon us.
2. God will never abandon His elect children that He forknew before the creation of the world.
3. The third group that I want to speak to are those here tonight who could care a less about what I am saying up here. Christ means nothing to you, and sin is a small matter to you. You love your sin, and you hate your Creator. You may have had some seemingly godly desires in the past, but those desires have been for your own personal gain. God’s wrath doesn’t scare you, and there is no fear of God before your eyes. This should terrify you because it means that God hasn’t awakened you to your sin. Jesus trembled over bearing the wrath of God for the sins of the world. The Holy, Righteous One, the Creator of the world trembled over the wrath of God for sins that were not His own; How much more should we tremble for the sins that we have committed. Pray that God will awaken your hearts tonight so that you will be saved. Pray that God would show you your sinful state and would grant you repentance, because repentance is a gift from Him; 2Tim 2:25; Acts 5:31; Acts 11:18.
So again, tonight, you whom the Spirit has awakened, believe that Christ died in your place, repent of your sins and be saved!
And you who are saved, but are struggling with sin, remember, the loving arms of the Father are waiting for you, no matter how many times you have blown it! He will forgive you because Christ has already suffered for your sins. Don’t be afraid to return to Him
And finally, you who are mocking this message in your heart, you have no guarantee that you will not meet your Maker tonight. “What is your life? It is but a vapor that appears for a moment and then vanishes away.” I assure you, if you die tonight having rejected the only way of salvation you will stand in judgment before God for your sins, and be cast into hell until that final day when you will be thrown in the lake of fire. Repent, and turn to Christ that you may be saved! Amen.