Rev. Dick is pastor of Grace Protestant Reformed Church in Standale, Michigan.
I think I see Jesus now.
He is with the disciples launching out into a sea. It is the sea Gethsemane. Some see olive trees, and maybe a press to make oil of olives. But all i see is sea. And something pressing the perfect fruit
of a virgin womb. Something pressing Jesus, Captain of the skiff. So much so, that something will soon come out of Him….
No apparent reason, at first. For, as the writers, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, record, when the boat first launches, and they enter into the garden, it is a glassy sea, sanctuary calm. Fit for prayer. And so Jesus prays.
But what is this? In the midst of this peace and quiet—a tempest! The disciples, they are sleeping through it. But at the helm, fully alert, alone tipped to starboard and to port, and alone slammed against unseen wild waves is Jesus!
Tempest! Cyclone! Down under! In His soul!
Look! Agony. A soul exceeding sorrowful, even unto death. Great drops of blood falling. The Captain is hit! Something has come down upon Him. And it is this, this wave of something, which is pressing the life out of Him. Look more closely. Don’t you see? Upon Jesus in that sea that night— the weight of our sins and the wrath of God!
Listen! Look! How does He fare? How does He navigate? He might check the stars, and alter His course. He might take in the sail. He might throw out the cargo. He might create another boat, or another sea. He might use that glory we just know He has to calm this storm…. But no!
Listen! “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done!” And once again: “Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt….”
I think I see Jesus now.
Bleeding in the sea. But resolute, courageous, faithful Captain!
He will go to the cross.
And not one of His boat-church will be lost.
They are weak.
But He is strong!
I think I see Jesus now.
Another tempest! Another raging now contrary sea. And sea-monsters! Or are they pirates? And is there not lurking not too far below the surface of that sea…that old serpent?
It is the sea of nations. Roman secular-world-pirates. Jewish Pharisee-Sadducee-religious-world-pirates. This sea, these pirates would sweep the Captain overboard, make slaves of His crew, and sink His boat. Their Black Beard leads them and kisses Him, and thereby betrays Him into their hands. They would board ship and take them all. They would do what waves and monsters and pirates do…their will…to destroy….
But wait! The Captain is Captain even over pirates, Lord over every sea, and Prince of every Poseidon!
“Whom seek ye?” He inquires.
“Jesus of Nazareth,” they respond.
“I Am…,” He declares.
And at Jesus’ Word this devil storm falls back, is contained, is directed to do His will. The crew and the good ship are delivered. The Captain must go down alone. Without the ship….
I see Jesus now. Do I?
There are the disciples, sleeping through one storm, not able to man their posts for a minute, not able to watch, to pray as they ought. When they awake, and face the contrary sea, they still are not aware how the boat is to sail in the storm.
“Lord, shall we smite with the sword?” some ask (Luke 22:49). And WHACK! There is Peter, seeking to behead for Jesus’ sake.
NO! Jesus says. Not by swords. Not by fisticuffs. Not by politics, or any such thing. I AM your salvation! I am your Way. I am your port. My Word is your cannon. My Spirit will fill your sails….
So do i? Do we see and understand and believe Jesus? In the garden is a sea. The spirit is willing there, but the flesh is weak there! The disciples sleep, stab, and then slink away. Post-cross. Post-Pentecost. Now a twenty-first century Post-modern, Post-Christian sea. Is that the church I see—sleeping, not discerning? Doing swimmingly (as the news reports, and as efforts to improve society suggest), and yet not sailing by grace, preaching just the Word, relying only on the Spirit of God? Is that the church I see—with Rome? With the nations? Going in the same direction…?
God! Where is thy boat? Where is truth, and love for truth? Where is faith? Tell us, be with us, guide us I Am!
For Study, Meditation, & Discussion
1. Jesus’ prayers.
What do we learn about Jesus from the passionate prayers He makes in the Garden?
2. Sin in the garden.
What is revealed about sin in the garden of Gethsemane (Note: the sin of Judas, of the mob, of the disciples)?
3. Jesus’ suffering.
How does Jesus show His suffering in this history? What exactly was He suffering—was this an hour of temptation for Him? Was He bearing God’s wrath here—even before Calvary? Did the disciples add to His suffering?
4. Sovereignty and divinity.
How does Jesus show here His sovereignty and divinity?
5. Truth and Comfort.
How are both Jesus’ suffering and sovereignty a comfort to us?
6. The Christian and swords.
What is revealed in Gethsemane about Jesus’ view of Christians using swords to advance His cause? Is there evidence that the church today is crossing swords or joining swords with the wicked? What is the church’s true instrument of power? How does she use this? What kind of kingdom will such power establish?
7. Perspective (John 20:31).
What would you say is the main revelation of Jesus Savior in the Garden of Gethemane? How is this an encouragement to your faith? How is this an encouragement to stay in the boat, to stay on course, and to be at peace in the midst of today’s stormy seas?