The Testimony of Gethsemane - Part 3 (Your Final Exam)
Gethsemane was quite probably the location of the most intense emotional experience ever recorded. From the scene of the last supper, the son of man's journey to the cross visited this place of the olive press for a critical interlude. The account of this interlude is a love story so deep and vast it can only be understood in reality by following in our Lord's footsteps, not by walking in the physical location on the Mount of Olives but on your way to the cross. In this article, I will show how the willingness to follow Y'shua to the cross will be a basis for the eventual threefold division of his beloved church. Picking up the theme of division from understanding that the location is on the Mount of Olives, we are now able to learn the significance of what happened there and glean fresh insight into why it was such an emotional time. And, we learn why it has such relevance to you and I, who greatly desire to be presented to the Bridegroom as a pure and chaste Bride.
Though the moon was nearly full, arising in the East over Jerusalem as Y'shua and his disciples were supping together in the upper room, the twilight arrival of this Nisan 13 swiftly became a deeply dark time as the heaviness of what was about to happen began to build towards the extreme sorrow of the Gethsemane experience.
Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." 37) He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38) Then he said to them, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me." 39) Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." 40) Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. "Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?" he asked Peter. 41) "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak." 42) He went away a second time and prayed, "My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done." 43) When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy.#1 44) So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing. 45) Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, "Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour is near, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46) Rise, let us go! Here comes my betrayer!"
I want to point out a technical feature of this passage. It is at the center of an introverted structure. The surrounding context points inward to it from either side, highlighting it as the focal section. Given the emotional intensity of Y'shua and the disciples as they sorrowed, that's not too surprising an observation, but since it's so emphatically brought to our attention as students of the deeper things we ought to make appropriate note of it.#2 The stage is set for high drama! There are very important lessons for us to be learned from what took place in the heart of that passage, friends!
Given the intensity of the prophetic scenario pouring out of the pages of the record of that most dreary 13th of Nisan, it seems likely that the reason our Lord was exceeding sorrowful was because he was cognizant of the millions of martyrs who would join him on his journey to the cross over the next two millennia. It is no secret that martyrdom is a key theme in the context of Gethsemane because our Lord was on his way to the cross, but he has invited us to follow him, not symbolically in some shallow and insincere imitation, but literally walking as he walked the path of shame and suffering that led even unto death. Although the voice that seems to be heard all too commonly today says, "Because Jesus suffered and died for us, we no longer have to suffer and die," a study of what the Bible really says shows otherwise. The church has ever been and will continue to be tested tried and proven for its qualities of faith and love. As the end of the age approaches, the test will reach "final exam" stage. Friend, the time has drawn near. We will find one crucially practical directive in conclusion, and I beg you to pay very close attention because there are precious few things you'll ever read as important as this. Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation, the temptation to save your own life instead of offering it as a willing sacrifice.
The word martyr has an interesting etymology. It comes to us from the Greek word martus. In the Bible, it's Strong's #3144: “martus, mar'-toos; of uncert. affin.; a witness (lit. [judicially] or fig. [gen.]); by anal. a "martyr":--martyr, record, witness.” A martyr is a witness. When a person shows a willingness to die for something, that level of commitment, that degree of willingness testifies of their great love giving honor to what is loved. The practical result of the martyr's ultimate act of love is that their cause or belief is furthered. When I hear about the courage and determination of my brothers and sisters in the Lord who have suffered and been put to death for the sake of the Lord Jesus Christ, Y'shua HaMashiach, I am deeply touched. I know that they genuinely loved the Lord and that the Lord blessed them a lot. I admire them. The supreme sacrifice has a great impact upon those who remain. Most importantly, however, the ultimate sacrifice for the Lord's sake is a witness to the Lord himself of the martyr's love for him!
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13) Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14) You are my friends if you do what I command.
Do you want to be Jesus' friend? Then, do what he commands. What did he command? Love each other as he loved us. He loved us with the greatest love, laying his life down for his friends. Are you paying attention? In the context, it's not too difficult to see the implication that he laid his life down for those who do what he commands, Bride candidates. 3 Now, listen up. If the Lord is truly your friend, lay down your life for him. This is love that is real, genuine, sincere, and there is no greater. This is a lifestyle and also martyrdom. This passage is within the scope of the Gethsemane context, (as I will shortly discuss) teaching us vital truths in preparation for that most intensely emotional account's lesson.
And you also must testify, (martureo) for you have been with me from the beginning. 16:1 All this I have told you so that you will not go astray. 2) They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God. 3) They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. 4) I have told you this, so that when the time comes you will remember that I warned you. I did not tell you this at first because I was with you.
Did you notice that the word "kills" is used and not "persecutes"? Yes, martyrdom is the issue here. This is the martureo, the testimony that must be borne. It is related to the question, "Do you really love the Lord?" Although this test has been relevant to this present church since the time of Stephen's stoning in Acts 7, the particulars of the Gethsemane account reveal that there is a more specific application intended for an appointed time yet future at this writing.
The Lord allows us to be tested, tempted and tried as an evaluation of our love. The ultimate test is to see if we are willing to suffer and die for his sake. This critical evaluation distinguishes between those in the church on the basis of love. People will be sorted according to whether or not we are willing to suffer for his sake. It quite effectively separates those who are insincere from those who really do love the Lord. If you think I've got a twisted view of love, you may find satisfaction in knowing that you're in the majority. However, the majority you're in company with is not good company and any satisfaction is merely temporary. The Lord chastises those whom he loves. If you don't yet know the Lord's chastisement, may I suggest that you yourself might be in serious jeopardy?
Along with the invitation to come along all the way to the cross, the Lord who knows the greatest love offers comfort in the promise of great reward.
Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
The ultimate price paid purchases the highest reward. Its comforting, too, to know that James went through it as well as thousands of others. Their testimony is proof that the Lord comforts his people as they suffer. This is encouraging, but the encouragement necessary for you will come as you yourself endure suffering for His name's sake.
Temptation in this matter comes into the picture when it's time to choose whether or not to try to escape from persecution by denying Y'shua. If we fall to that temptation, we will be separated out and suffer further consequences instead of entering into reward. The directive to watch and pray so that we won't fall into temptation isn't just a suggestion, an option you may want to think about. Its a command; a necessity. If you can hear it. Perhaps for some of you, I've already said enough about the matter but I will continue to lay it out as I see it so you can find further inspiration and motivation to prepare yourself, watching and praying with zeal until the appointed time arrives.
There are three sets of overlapping triples I will address in this article. The first in sequence of this triad of triples appears as the Lord addresses Simon Peter by naming him three times. The next triple begins in that same brief address as the Lord declared that this man would deny him three times before the rooster crowed. Before the account of the denials draws to its conclusion, the third triple occurs as Jesus prays to his father about the removal of the cup then returns to the separated threesome of disciples. Each triple is very closely related in meaning to the other two, revealing truths about the threefold division of the church.
Because there's so much information to assimilate in the large scope of the context under study, I've assembled a rough table of events and corresponding scripture references.
|Event:||Matthew 26||Mark 14||Luke 22||John|
|Y'shua prays that Simon’s faith will not fail||31-32|
|going to the Mount of Olives||30||26||39*||14:30-31|
|Y’shua prophesies that all will fall away on account of him||31||27||13:36|
|Peter denies that he will fall away||32||29||*33||13:37*|
|Prophecy of Peter disowning Y’shua three times before the rooster crows three times||34||30||34||13:38|
|Peter and the other disciples deny that they will ever disown the Lord||35||31|
|Y’shua tells the disciples to pack their stuff and take some swords||35-38|
|extensive dissertation and prayer - lots about love /obedience /unity, etc.||14:1-17:26|
|going to Gethsemane, the olive grove||36||32||39*||18:1*|
|Y’shua prays while disciples sleep||36-46||32-42||40-46|
|Judas comes with the Roman soldiers, chief priests and Pharisees||47||43||47||18:2-3|
|Y’shua and those who had come to arrest him speak. They draw back and fall to the ground when Y’shua says, "I am he."||18:4-9|
|Judas betrays Y’shua with a kiss||48-50||44-45||47-48|
|Y’shua is seized and arrested||50||46||54*||18:12|
|Simon Peter cuts off Malchus’ right ear||51-54||47||49-51||18:10-11|
|"Am I leading a rebellion?"||54-56||48-49||52-53|
|The disciples flee and are scattered
|The young man in the linen garment fled naked (when they seized Y’shua)||51-52
|Y’shua is led away
|Another disciple known to the high priest and Peter followed at a distance||54 (only
Peter is mentioned)
|54 (again, only Peter is mentioned)||18:15|
|Y’shua being beaten and questioned||57-68||55-65||63 ff||18:13-27|
|Peter disowned him three times before the rooster crowed||69-75||66-72||55-62||18:16-27|
The First Triple
Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; 32) but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” 33) And he said to Him, “Lord, with You I am ready to go both to prison and to death!” 34) And He said, “I say to you, Peter, the cock will not crow today until you have denied three times that you know Me.
This took place after the last supper on the 13th of Nisan and, while still prior to the crossing of the Kidron over unto the Mount of Olives, it is relevant within the context of what happens at Gethsemane. It is the Lord’s pronouncement of a coming test of faith, a test that would separate based upon the endurance of one’s faith.
I chose to show the NASB rendering of this passage instead of the NIV because the NIV adds an extra occurrence of the name “Simon” that textual criticism doesn't seem to support. When the Lord initially addresses him, saying “Simon, Simon,” the repetition suggests division, the meaning of the number two. This is perhaps our first clue in the passage leading up to Gethsemane that the corporate church symbolized by the man Simon Peter will be divided. The Lord then names this man a third time, calling him Peter. If you think this observation is insignificant, you’re still ignorant of the fact that nothing in the Bible is trivial. Our Lord was not just being colorful in his speech when he addressed his disciple in this fashion at this time. Perfection is exhibited in every detail of our Lord’s communication, and most certainly in the matter of numbering as the man we know as Simon Peter was named a total of three times in this one brief address.
The meaning of the names used are important as well. The name Simon is the Greek form of "Simeon", meaning "hearing". Others of the names for this man could have been used, but the Lord selected this particular name to repeat. Therefore, the aspect of hearing, brought to our attention by use of the name Simon, is a determining factor in whether or not faith fails. Did you catch that? The ability to hear (which absolutely includes the doing of what is heard) is key to faith that will not fail. We need to be able to hear! Simon could certainly hear and understand exactly what the Lord was talking about as evidenced by his reply, “Lord, with You I am ready to go both to prison and to death!” He was Simon - hearing! In verse 34, the name “Peter” is used in a very rare instance of the Lord addressing this man by this name alone. I believe it is even the sole occurrence of the Greek word of the form petre. (There is a connection between this occurrence and one in Matthew 16:18 where the name used refers to a weak, insubstantial or easily movable stone rather than a strong, substantial and immovable rock.)
Simon was the name used the first two times and Peter the last, comparing to the character of each of the three divisions of the church in order. The first two divisions (the Bride and then those who are the subject of Revelation 7:9-17) are the “Simons,” those who will indeed hear and heed the warning about resisting the temptation to resist martyrdom. The final division of the church will consist of those who succumb to the temptation and deny the Lord, being the "Peter" company, the weak and insubstantial “living stones” in the temple of God.
Now that I've addressed the significance of the naming, let's observe from the focal passage that when the Lord said he had prayed for Simon, he didn't pray for Satan to not sift Simon. He prayed so that Simon’s faith would not fail when he would be sifted!
So, what is meant by the sifting of wheat? Both this man known as Simon and the grain mentioned are symbols used in Scripture to represent the church. Simply, sifting wheat separates it. The Greek word for “sifting” is used only once in the Bible - here in Luke 22:31. It is Strong's # 4617- siniazo: “sin-ee-ad’-zo; from sinion (a sieve); to riddle (fig.):--sift.” according to the American Heritage Dictionary, riddle, means: “To put (gravel, for example) through a coarse sieve.” Another meanings is, “To distinguish as if separating with a sieve.” With regard to its relevance here, it is interesting that the usage they give is: “sifted the candidates for the job.” the meaning given for the verb, sieve is, “To sort into different parts.” A list of some of the synonyms exhibits how perfectly this meshes with the Mount of Olives theme and reveals God’s purpose in allowing Satan to sift Simon.
Synonyms: separate · divide · weed out · winnow · sort · assort · choose · filter out · cull · pan · pick · refine · screen · sift · strain. In the processing of wheat, the grain is separated from the stalk and chaff by threshing and winnowing. During threshing, the grain can get “dirty” due to conditions at the threshing floor. A sieve was used to separate the impurities from the grain. The prophetic application of the sifting of the grain is similar in principle to the purifying process for metal we read here:
"See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty. 2) But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers’ soap: 3) And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. 4) Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years.
Satan will do the sifting primarily via the agent who has been assigned to the task, who will be allowed to sift the church as he is also allowed to refine and purify the sons of Levi (See also II thessalonians 2:9).
The Lord desires and will have a clean grain and a fine flour for acceptable sacrifice from out of this harvest age! The Lord will receive the best of the harvest from this age from the barley harvest and then from the wheat. As Eve was taken from out of Adam, the Bride will be taken from out of the Body, a Bride without spot or wrinkle - a barley people. Then, the wheat people will be separated out as well.
I find it very interesting to note the subject of the passage that appears immediately prior to the passage that has thus far been the subject of this article. Should we not infer that there is some connection between them?
You are those who have stood by me in my trials. 29) And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, 30) so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
I submit to you that the most valuable of the grain that is sifted, passing the trial of faith, qualifies to sit on thrones and rule over a kingdom, and will eat and drink at the Lord’s table in his kingdom. What an awesome privilege to be accounted worthy of such an honor... and what a price to be paid!
Now, from Luke 22:32, we note that what is being tested in the trial of sifting is Simon’s faith. Those in the church with faith that will fail will be separated from those whose faith does not fail. Faith in what? Faith in the Lord's great ability to sustain or to even raise from the dead, and further grant according to every promise. (Mat 10:32, 33, 39) Faith can and often does fail when confronted with the threat of suffering and death. Y'shua prayed so that Simon's faith would not fail. Was his prayer request denied? Did his faith really fail? Let me ask again: Did Simon's faith fail? In Simon Peter's trial where he was given three opportunities to deny the Lord and he did, it sure looks like his faith failed. But that just wasn't the end of the story for Simon Peter, was it? There would come forth a people after the pattern of Simon whose faith would not fail. Simon Peter himself would be among them, as a great company of the Bride would be brought forth over the following two millennia, willing to lay down their lives for their friend Jesus. There is no greater love than this, and no more unfailing a faith.
Pay close attention now: Peter’s response to the Lord’s revelation lays bare the nature of the trial that sifts.
And he said to Him, “Lord, with You I am ready to go both to prison and to death!”
Luke 22:33 (NASB)
Although you can find a similar statement made by Simon in other gospel accounts, this account in Luke is unique with regard to what our Lord said that prompted this reply. It is found here in Luke because it belongs here in this precise context. Based upon what Y’shua had just said about Satan’s desire to sift him like wheat and having prayed for him so that his faith would not fail, we might ask why Simon might assume that what he said had anything to do with readiness to go with his Lord to prison and to death. Up to this point in time, neither Simon Peter nor any of the other disciples had shown that they really understood about Y’shua having to suffer and die. The one called Hearing must have had insight, “hearing ears,” in order to be able to understand the relevant truth. You see, the Lord didn’t rebuke him and say, “Whoa, where are you coming from with that crazy statement?” Consider an earlier exchange of words between Peter and the Lord Jesus with regard to the same theme to see his ignorance about Y'shua's fate.
From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. 22) Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” 23) Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” 24) Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25) For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. 26) What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? 27) For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.
While Peter didn’t yet have in mind the things of God at the time of the above, the way of martyrdom had surely entered his mind on the way to Gethsemane.
Given that Y’shua was now on a rather direct route to the shame, suffering and death on the cross, this process of sifting to be granted satan should be recognized as the process of separating people on the basis of whether or not they are ready to go that same route, on the basis of their willingness to be martyred. Are you ready to go both to prison and to death, my friend? This sifting proves who will have the greatest love and faith that will not fail. This will become even more clear as we progress through the study.
Let's consider the Lord’s plan for some whose faith is tested.
but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”
Luke 22:32 (NASB)
As we know from the biblical account, (to be addressed in the next triple) the man Simon Peter was tempted to deny the Lord three times and his faith did indeed fail. This is a popular interpretation and a viable one, but what is its prophetic meaning? According to E.W. Bullinger, the Greek might better be read in the sense of, “When thou hast once turned again,” so the NASB rendering is quite good. There seem to be multiple levels of application here; for the Bride (the first "Simon" whose faith will not fail) and for the Rev: 7:9 saints. (the second "Simon" company whose faith will fail initially, causing them to be left behind at the theft of the Bride but who then will turn to declare Jesus before men.)
Let me address the application for the Bride first. I can't elaborate upon this at the present time, but those Jesus prayed for that their faith would not fail, their faith will not fail because our Father in heaven grants that request. Not every saint will be caught in the sieve during the sifting, okay? So, the implication of our Lord's statement, "when once you have turned again," is that there will come such a time when the Bride will turn again. There is evidence that seems to suggest that after the Bridegroom has stolen the Bride away, possibly after the marriage and honeymoon phase, if you will, she will have the ability to interact on some level with the church left behind for the purpose of strengthening them. This doesn't seem unreasonable since it has already been well established that at the time immediately following the theft, the Bride will play an important role in the revelation of Y'shua to the 144,000. What a joy and privilege this will be for the Bride, because her heart and life has been so invested in her brothers. Her heart and passion is for the Lord first, but where is his heart also but for his other sheep? She so loves the Bridegroom's flock that she has to be told to forget about them at the wedding.
Daughters of kings are among your honored women; at your right hand is the royal bride in gold of Ophir.
10) Listen, O daughter, consider and give ear: Forget your people and your father's house.
Although I believe the application for the Bride is in view here in Luke 22:32, the primary application of this interesting directive appears to be for the wheat saints of Revelation 7:9-17. I have no doubt that when these sleeping sheep are left behind when the Bridegroom comes for his Bride, they will wake up and attend wholeheartedly to the task of strengthening or establishing their brothers. Isn't this the example Peter set having denied the Lord initially, failing to go to the cross with him but some time later rising up to serve with unfailing faith? He strengthened his brothers in the Lord until the time appointed for his arrival at the cross, to which he willingly went.
The teaching about this turning back and strengthening Peter's brothers seems to be further developed in John 21.
The Second Triple
Peter denied the Lord three times, thus, another triple in the account of Gethsemane.
Jesus answered, "I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me."
The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: "Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times."
This triple continues the theme of a test of willingness to be martyred that was previously established in the tripled naming. Consider the various gospel accounts and the context where the prophecy about the denials is made. Here's a verse that immediately precedes and two that immediately follow it.
But he replied, "Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death."
But Peter declared, "Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you." And all the other disciples said the same.
But Peter insisted emphatically, "Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you." And all the others said the same.
Is there any question that the denials came in the face of just such a threat as suffering and death?
There are hidden time elements in Luke 22:34 and 61. Did you notice the appearance of the words "three times"? These words notify the watchful student of prophetic context that the time of a resurrection is in view. (See Resurrection on the Third Day) Have you ever heard a rooster that sounds a bit like a shofar? Imagine the sound of the trumpet call of God and the shout of the archangel announcing a harvest of men in the earth! Immediately after Peter denied the Lord for the third time, the rooster crowed! "Quick, get up!" comes to mind! Resurrection morning, comes to mind! The Sun is up, the Bridegroom is here! Consider also how the rooster crowing watch is the third watch of the night, the watch shown by many proofs to be the resurrection watch. (See also Passing Through the Iron Gate - Part I)
The phrase "rooster crowing" (alektor phoneo) is found in many scriptures but all are found in the same context, that of Peter's denials. A very closely related word is found in only one verse. This verse lists each of the four night watches as they were known and observed at the time roman forces occupied Israel. They are given in order.
Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back--whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn.
The phrase "when the rooster crows" is translated from the Greek word, alektorophonia. (Strong's #219. al-ek-tor-of-o-nee'-ah; from G220 and G5456; cock-crow, i.e. the third night-watch:--cockcrowing.) It refers to the cock crowing watch - which is the third watch of the night. Note that it is clearly in the context of our Lord's return.
My point is that the antitypical fulfillment of what was prophesied in Peter's denials will occur at the close of this age very near the time of the resurrections. The record of this man Simon Peter and the three denials relates a message about the church in its final days of the age. In denying the Lord, Peter represents those who will choose rather to deny him than to accept martyrdom.
The Third Triple
Now, at last we come to the heart of the passage. Let's read what happened in the garden according to Mark's Gospel.
They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, "Sit here while I pray." 33) He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 34) "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death," he said to them. "Stay here and keep watch." 35) Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 36) "Abba, Father," he said, "everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will." 37) Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. "Simon," he said to Peter, "are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? 38) Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak." 39) Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. 40) When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him. 41) Returning the third time, he said to them, "Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42) Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!"
The incredible stress felt by our Lord at this time has been attributed by most students to his concern about his upcoming beating and crucifixion, but I submit to you that he was rather more concerned about those who were with him. It was very important to our Lord that his disciples were where they were supposed to be and doing what they were supposed to be doing at this time. Was it out of concern for his own benefit and well-being that he asked them to watch and pray? Did he once ask them to pray for him in his personal hour of need? No, not once, though we might assume that if they had been paying attention they should have been praying for him. Y'shua's concern was for their benefit, so that they would not fall into temptation. Our Lord was entreating His Father on his own behalf, but entreating his disciples on their behalf. Beyond being a matter of concern for merely those disciples who were present, his overwhelming sorrow must have expressed his feeling for the multiplied thousands whom he knew would eventually follow in his footsteps. His sorrow is said to have been "to the point of death," an expression used in the narrative not to enhance the dramatic impact but to reveal truth. It speaks to me not only of the level of grief but also of his foreknowledge of the martyrdom which would befall him and everyone who would take up his cross after him.
Now, follow me closely here, because it's important that you understand about this temptation Jesus prayed they would not fall into. Since the disciples were unable to follow Y'shua's directive, (they were sleeping and resting instead of watching and praying that they would not fall into temptation) we may reason that they did indeed fall. Had they been able to follow his simple directive, it follows logically that their prayer request would have been granted and they would not have fallen into temptation. And, if they hadn't fallen, it must be assumed that their roles in the scenario would have played out differently. Since the Bible records that they were separated from him and scattered as sheep when the shepherd was struck, the implication is that, had they not fallen into temptation, they would have followed the shepherd, been beaten and even been crucified along with him. It seems plain enough to me that the temptation was to deny the Lord in the face of martyrdom. This temptation couldn't merely have been to resist sin in a non-specific or general sense. The temptation to resist arrest or whatever abuse may come upon us for the Lord’s sake must therefore be resisted. The strength to resist must come from the Lord, and this is why we must stay awake and pray. The ability is not to be found in our flesh because it is weak. (Matthew 26:41) But, and here's the key, the spirit is willing. And with that willingness is sufficient ability to keep a person from falling into temptation!
Self-preservation is just not to be our concern, which goes against all our natural survival instincts and tendencies. We are to put even our very lives in the Lord's hand and trust entirely in his provision. If he wants to preserve this life which is ours to steward, so be it. If not, so be it. Let it be according to the master's will. If it is truly his life you are living, you will adopt this attitude and find great reward in the Kingdom to come.
Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35) For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.
Continuing along this same line of teaching, we should understand the matter of the cup Jesus prayed about. At the time he prayed about the cup, we should note that he had just previously spoken of it at the last supper.
In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. 21) But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table.
The cup is the new covenant in his blood. The blood represents his life. (Leviticus 17:11) The cup contains and represents his blood which is poured out. The cup is mentioned in the account of the last supper, followed immediately by the mention of the betrayer, exactly like here at Gethsemane. The cup is further associated with Y'shua's death.
In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me." 26) For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.
I Corinthians 11:25-26
So, the cup is Y'shua's cup, but others will also drink from it. This means that the lives of others would also be poured out as a willing sacrifice. Martyrs. He was speaking to the sons of Zebedee in the following verse.
..."Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?" "We can," they answered. 23) Jesus said to them, "You will indeed drink from my cup...
Matthew 20:22 and 23
And so they did, as history records.
Martyrdom continues to be the lot for true disciples of Messiah and will be for some time to come. Drinking from this cup is far more than the religious ritual of sipping grape juice while sitting in a church pew, isn't it? Those who truly eat that bread and drink the Lord's cup don't usually do it sitting in a pew. And, their offering doesn't just go in a plate or basket. It requires the ultimate sacrifice!
Now, I'd like to address some of the features of the focal passage of this triple in Mark that signal a specific last days application. Our Lord had separated himself from his disciples and rejoined them three times, praying each time while he was gone and returning to address them. When we read about our Lord "Returning the third time," (verse 41) the author's calling our attention to the time of a resurrection.
On one level, these three cycles correspond to the first three of the seven famine years. It can be seen in Mark and from Matthew 26:47 that it was during "the third time" Y'shua addressed the sleepy disciples that the one doomed to destruction arrived. This speaks of the arrival of the lawless one during the third time, or year. When the lawless one foreshadowed by Judas in the garden does arrive in his appointed time, Jesus will certainly be involved addressing his disciples about staying awake and praying that they would not fall into temptation.
Since all the events under consideration occurred on Nisan 13, this passage has a crucial application in the day the lawless one is revealed. Adding further support to that insight, Judas appears directly in the record as a type of the lawless one, betraying Y'shua to those who had come to arrest him. The betrayal was a handing over through identifying the particular man as the one they sought. Judas betrayed him with a kiss, a sign of affection. Judas' show of affection could not have been sincere, but deceitful, intended to hide his wicked deed from Y'shua and his friends. Deceit is the dominant theme in the working of the lawless one, according to Thessalonians 2:10-11.
Division of the Church
Y'shua's very deliberate separation of his troupe into three is a parable of the division of the church into three. This peculiar separation was what initially grabbed my attention. This simple insight opened the way for a series of discoveries that includes the Mount of Olives as a symbol of division, everything you have been reading here about Gethsemane, the three-fold separation of the church and even the Bride Theft!
They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, "Sit here while I pray." 33) He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 34) "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death," he said to them. "Stay here and keep watch." 35) Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him.
The church have some who follow after the pattern of our Lord, some after the pattern of Peter, James and John, and some after that of the other disciples. These divisions or companies might also be labeled according to the sequence of naming in the first triple I addressed; Simon, Simon and Peter companies. The first two names referring to the church-type man are Simon. These two companies are characterized as having "hearing" ears. These are first, the Bride, and then the saints of Rev. 7:9. They hear and obey, submitting to the Lord even unto following the way of the cross. The Peter company is comprised of the "insubstantial stone people," who never develop ears to hear and deny the Lord to save their own lives. They will never learn obedience. They are, in tabernacle terminology, the outer court Christians, furthest from the throne. The Bride is the most holy place company and the Rev. 7:9 saints, the holy place company. The first Simon company, the Bride, are the barley to be harvested at Pesah. The second Simon company are the wheat to be harvested at Shavuot. The Peter company will be as grapes harvested at Sukkot. Some believe that Matthew is a gospel that is most relevant for the Bride, Mark, for the Rev. 7:9 saints and Luke, the outer court Peter Christians. John's gospel, because John symbolizes the 144k Jews, would be most particularly for them.
Gethsemane. What a rich lesson we learn from the experience in the garden! May we learn it well! Pray, my friends. Get up and pray that you will not fall into temptation.
1) The Greek word for heavy is Strong’s # 916. bareo, bar-eh’-o; from G926; to weigh down (fig.):--burden, charge, heavy, press For an “eye-opening” study you may want to look at each of the six occurrences of this word. Return
2) Just prior to the Gethsemane account and just after it, the unity/division contrast appears. (John 14:1 - 17:26 / John 18:2-9) Bracketing that, the matter of the swords appears. (Luke 22:35-38 / Luke 22:49-53) Bracketing those, the matter of the rooster crowing, denying and falling away appears. (Mark 14:27-31/Mark 14:50-72) Return
3) Titus 2:11-14: "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. 12) It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13) while we wait for the blessed hope--the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14) who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good." Return