When Christ was Uniquely Alone

Brent Aucoin August 27, 2017 Matthew 26:36-56

When I was in 4th grade, my sister, who was 3 years older than me was starting in a brand new junior high school building in Lawton Ok.

When I say brand new, the junior high building was a brand new building.

For some reason, I cannot remember why, I went with my sister to enrollment or orientation day at the new MacArthur Junior high school. Maybe because I wanted to see the new building.

It was a beautiful new building. As with any new building, there were final construction details to fix.

While in the new building, I had to go to the bathroom. So, I walked in to the bathroom. Is was empty. I was alone in the bathroom. It was a very nice new bathroom. So, I took care of my business then I washed my hands. Then I attempted to walk out the door I came in.

I say “attempted,” because I reached for the door handle. There was no door handle. I pushed on the door. The door wouldn’t budge.  I reached down to look at the gap between the door and the floor so I could get my fingers under the edge and attempt to pull the door toward me.

I couldn’t get my 4th grade fingers under there.

There was no way out of the bathroom. 

I was alone and stuck in the bathroom.

Now those of you who know me and I have confessed this publically, over the course of my life I have struggled with worry and fear.

God has given me greater victory over that in my more mature years.

But how much logical/rational thought does a 4th grader have?

And particularly one who is prone to worry and fear…

I began thinking…

  • I’m alone…
  • Will I be in here forever?
  • Will my sister leave me?
  • Will anybody ever find me?

I know, none of it was rational.

As I worked myself up into a fearful frenzy, I chose a very rational and calm response—I started screaming at the top of my lungs and banging on the door.

I felt like I was screaming for decades and it was probably 5 seconds.

I can’t imagine and I don’t want to imagine what my screams sounded like echoing through the halls of junior high school

Some junior high school kids bravely approached the bathroom, I’m sure with their own fear now of wondering who is being murdered in the bathroom.

I see this kids tentatively push the door inward and back away…

I walk out without saying a word, but strutting out like “I got this, nothing here to look at, no problem, move along.”

Three years later when I went to that same junior high school  I realized that that the bathroom was designed so that there was an “in door”  and an “outdoor” about 20 feet from the indoor that I never had seen.

You know throughout junior high I was hoping nobody would recognize me as the screaming kid who got stuck alone in the bathroom.

Being alone is a terrifying thing.

Maybe you have your childhood story of being alone—separated from your parents at Wall Mart or even more terrifying at Disney world or even more significant, parents who abused you or left you.

Maybe you have very difficult experiences with being alone because of rejection or loss of a loved one.

One of the most common refrains I hear from congregants as a pastor is that “I’m lonely” or “alone.”

New college students or students in elementary or high school, the prospect of not having friends is terrifying.

Being alone is amazingly difficult

The ultimate aloneness is being separated fully from the presence of the God who made you.

And this condition is rightly and appropriately called Hell.

Hell is a location where the presence of God has been fully drawn away from you and indeed you are not with your creator.

With those thoughts in mind turn with me to

Turn in your Bibles to Matthew 26:36–56

That is on p. 23 in the back section, the NT of the bible in the chair in front of you.

This year we have chosen as our theme for Faith Church—IN Christ Alone

If you are new with us even today, thank you for coming today by the way, we chose this scriptural theme this year because 2017 is the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s posting of his 95 thesis that began the protestant reformation.

During the month of August we are considering a kind of “play on words” of our theme by considering

When Christ was Alone

This morning I would like to speak about this

When Christ was Uniquely Alone So You Would Never Have To Be

Since you are in your bibles now, please look at verse 56, the last verse in our passage

Christ Alone: 56 “But all this has taken place to fulfill the Scriptures of the prophets.” Then all the disciples left Him and fled.

Our passage today certainly shows us how all the disciples left Jesus alone. But this was not the most significant aloneness that he was facing.

Now, let’s read about the night before Jesus was to die for the sins of mankind.

            36        Then Jesus *came with them to a place called Gethsemane (Gethsemane means Olive Press, Olives were pressed or crushed for the oil, Jesus Christ was on the verge of being crushed), and *said to His disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.”

            37        And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and distressed.

            38        Then He *said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.”

            39        And He went a little beyond them and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.”

In Gospel of Luke, Luke who was a physician, notes this

44And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground.

Scholars and physicians think Jesus experienced Hematidrosis—where the capillary blood vessels that feed the sweat glands rupture, causing them to exude blood.. This condition occurs under conditions of extreme physical or emotional stress.  That is exactly what we have here diagnosed by the physician Luke in our passage.

Luke probably had observed this commonly as a doctor in the Roman period under the draconian torture methods used by the Romans. 

            40        And He *came to the disciples and *found them sleeping, and *said to Peter, “So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour?

            41        “Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

            42        He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done.”

            43        Again He came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy.

            44        And He left them again, and went away and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more.

            45        Then He *came to the disciples and *said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners.

            46        “Get up, let us be going; behold, the one who betrays Me is at hand!”

            47        While He was still speaking, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, came up accompanied by a large crowd with swords and clubs, who came from the chief priests and elders of the people.

            48        Now he who was betraying Him gave them a sign, saying, “Whomever I kiss, He is the one; seize Him.”

            49        Immediately Judas went to Jesus and said, “Hail, Rabbi!” and kissed Him.

            50        And Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you have come for.” Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and seized Him.

            51        And behold, one of those who were with Jesus reached and drew out his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his ear.

            52        Then Jesus *said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.

            53        “Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve alegions of angels?

            54        “How then will the Scriptures be fulfilled, which say that it must happen this way?”

            55        At that time Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest Me as you would against a robber? Every day I used to sit in the temple teaching and you did not seize Me.

            56        “But all this has taken place to fulfill the Scriptures of the prophets.” Then all the disciples left Him and fled.

In the time that we have remaining I would like to structure our time around these concepts

  • The Uniqueness of Christ’ Aloneness
  • The Unique Character of Christ in His Aloneness
  • Our Response to Christ’s Unique Aloneness

I. The Uniqueness of Christ’s Aloneness—The Cup of Wrath

Friends,

  • Consider others who have face certain death after Christ’s
  • Why was Jesus “grieved to the point of death?” Why was He in such shock that he would suffer from Hematidosis?
  • The first deacon/martyr, Stephen, who confidently proclaimed while being stoned in Act 7:55-60—“Lord do not hold this sin against them.”
  • William Tyndale, famous reformation Bible Translator, was strangled and then burned at the stake. His last word were “Lord, open the king of England’s eyes.”

Consider if you will

  • Jesus’ identity—John 1:18 “the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father”
  • Jesus’ destiny—“The Father’s cup of wrath”

Jesus was the Son of God the Father.

Jesus had never known anything other than the blessed presence of dwelling together with His Father.

He from eternity past “has been in the bosom of the Father”

Now, consider what His Father was asking Him to do…

Jesus prays, “Father, If it be your will let this cup pass from me, but not my will but yours….”

What is “This cup”

It was very common in the OT when speaking of God’s impending judgment to say, “the wicked persons or a nation” will drink the cup of judgment”

  • Psalm 11:6 Upon the wicked He will rain snares; Fire and brimstone and burning wind will be the portion of their cup.
  • Psalm 75:        8 For a cup is in the hand of the Lord, and the wine foams; It is well mixed, and He pours out of this; Surely all the wicked of the earth must drain and drink down its dregs.
  • Isaiah 51:17 Rouse yourself! Rouse yourself! Arise, O Jerusalem, You who have drunk from the Lord’s hand the cup of His anger; The chalice of reeling you have drained to the dregs.

“This cup” that Christ was about to drink was the full force of God’s wrath against mankind born by one man—Jesus Christ.

And included in that  full force of God’s wrath against man is the separation of God from man.

God the father was revealing to His Son at this moment, in a more full way, what that separation would look like and the Son is reeling….

God the Father at this moment in the Garden of “crushing” was revealing to Jesus His Son (who had never been separated from the presence of His Father, who had from eternity past, always enjoyed the presence of his Father) a more full sense of what would happen to Him on the cross when the Father would separate from the Son. And the righteous Son would experience the wrath of God upon the wicked. And the Son collapses to the point of near death at shock and agony of the more full awareness of this reality.  

Why is this so unique? None of us have been in the bosom of the Father only to suddenly be stripped of the Father’s presence…

What is agonizing to Jesus having fully known the beautiful presence of His Father and then soon have to be stripped of that….SHOCK…AGONY.

Never in Christ’s ministry or life on this earth was he in agony.

Never. Until now.  

His Father was always with Him and that is what He knew and Valued!

So …when the full weight of separation is being revealed comes…the thought of losing the presence of His Father was so great that he was in agony.

Friends, compare Christ’s agony to ours….what do we agonize over?

What does your agony reveal about your what you value….?

Can we truly say, that the greatest value in our life is the presence of God with us?

And the thought of losing that brings agony?

Again, what does your agony reveal about your what you value….?

[apply]

If you agonize over the loss of any earthly pleasure or treasure more than you would agonize over the delight of your God….I would say this…The that is exactly what we need to see this episode in Gethsemane…to see what is most precious to our Savior….

Now friends, this is not yet the most remarkable aspect of this passage.

In the face of losing the most valued treasure to Him, let’s look at Jesus’ unique response…..

II. The Uniqueness of Christ’s Character in His Aloneness

In Jesus’ agony, in the beginnings of the greatest time of His sufferings…we also see the uniqueness of His character..

 

What Garden is he at?  The Garden of Gethsemane—which means…Olive press.

Just as an olive press crushed the olives and out flows the precious Olive oil

As Jesus is beginning to be crushed, as he begins to sense the full weight of what is coming…

Something is squeezed out of him as well

When we are squeezed what is truly in us comes out of us

When the pressure comes through trials, what is truly in us comes out.

So, when things do not go my way, anger comes out because I have a heart of anger

When I encounter difficult circumstances, anxiety and fear come out because my heart is filled with anxiety and fear not God…

But when Jesus gets pressed…what do we see…what comes out of him… was always in Him as the perfect son of God

  • The only one who demonstrated uncompromising obedience to His Father’s Will
  • The only one who had un-coerced love for those who did not love Him
  • The only one who had unblemished integrity when nobody was looking
  • The only one who lived personal sacrifice (instead of physical power) as the means to greatness

At the prospect of the loss of the greatest treasure He had, the presence of God, He said, “Not my will but thine.”

Jesus was the only man in history to whom God said, If you obey me, I will crush you.

All throughout scripture, we hear this refrain…”Obey me and live.

But God says to Jesus, “Obey me and I will crush you”

Tim Keller draws the comparison of the first Adam and the last Adam—Jesus.

The first Adam was put in the Garden of Eden which means “delight” and asked to obey about a tree of life. If he did he would live.

The last Adam, Jesus was put in the Garden of Gethsemane (which mean Olive press/crush) and asked to obey about a tree (only this time the cross).

If he obeyed, he would be crushed

God the Father asked no one except His Son to do this…

Christ gets up after the agony and says, thy will be done…

This is the fullest expression and fulfillment of how Christ told his followers to pray…”THY WILL BE DONE”

And not only does he obey he actively pursues it…..as Pastor Green so insightfully pointed out in last week’s message…

 

And let’s see why…..

Not many scholars have wrestled with why God allowed us to see this aspect of the agony of Jesus.

But Jonathan Edwards the Puritan is probably right in his assessment of why God allows us to see this.

Jonathan Edwards in his sermon on this episode in Christ life, called the agony of Christ writes the following.

The thing that Christ's mind was so full of at that time was, without doubt, the same with that which his mouth was so full of: it was the dread which his feeble human nature had of that dreadful cup, which was vastly more terrible than Nebuchadnezzar's fiery furnace. He had then a near view of that furnace of wrath, into which he was to be cast; he was brought to the mouth of the furnace that he might look into it, and stand and view its raging flames, and see the glowings of its heat, that he might know where he was going and what he was about to suffer. –Jonathan Edwards, Christ’s Agony https://www.ccel.org/ccel/edwards/sermons.agony.html

Why did God give him the more full understanding of what was about to happen?

So that Jesus would have the full scope of the sufferings before him….and he would have the choice to undergo them or not….

And what did he choose my friends in the face of the most significant trial any being every face…He chose it why?

Out of love for you…

He was….

John 1:18  “No one has taken it (my life) away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative.”

Why is this passage here…so we can see that Jesus’ love for us was not coerced….not forced.

Forced love is not love.

Oh my friends, do you see the magnitude of Christ’s voluntary love here…

He looks squarely in the furnace of God’s wrath and it knocks him to the ground…But he gets up and chooses it voluntarily out of love for you…..

And all of this passage starkly contrasts the disciples who could not stay awake for an hour to pray

And consider Judas….Christ is choosing the most loving act in history voluntarily to take Judas’ destruction for him, all the while Judas is betraying Christ into this suffering…

But Christ leans in to it…Judas do what you must, because this is how I love you for your act of betrayal…

And the crowds who came out to Jesus with swords and clubs…

Furthermore..

He was…

Oh the disciples…bless their willing hearts but their weak flesh.

The disciples were sleeping in the midst of Jesus’ agony.

It was dark.

No one was looking.

Jesus could have fled….

What you see here is that Jesus is the same when people are looking as well as when he was alone in the dark when no one was….

All of us have integrity issues to one degree or another…..we act differently in the darkness of our own personal lives, marriages, but when we get in public…we are saintly…

Not with Jesus….When squeezed what was in him came out….no blemishes…the perfect lamb of God

Impetuous Peter draws the sword and cuts off the soldier’s ear.

Jesus heals it.

Jesus knows that the way to influence and greatness is not through the exercise of the sword (or one’s own lording it over another), it is through personal sacrifice…That is what Jesus’ sets his face toward

  • The least will be the greatest
  • The last shall be first
  • The meek will inherent the earth
  • The only way to save your life is by losing it
  • The only way to gain is to give…

He was the only one who lived and died this way all the time and has since that time changed in influenced the world.

And as a result…people are being redeemed, healed, and coming in to God’s Kingdom…

My friends to you believe the way of personal sacrifice is the way of greatest influence and love….rather than you lording it over someone…

Christ says…

54“How then will the Scriptures be fulfilled, which say that it must happen this way?”. . .

How are we drawn to this man Christ?  Not because of his mighty miracles or his power…but his personal sacrifice of love for us….

And is that how you draw others…how you draw your spouse, your children, you fellow church members, your unbelieving friends…to yourself with your personal sacrifice instead of your own power plays….

III. Our Response to Christ’s Unique Aloneness

  • Remember Christ was alone so you would never have to be alone.
  • While Christ’s Character in His Aloofness was unique, He is now creating His unique image in His people (Rom 8:29) so that
    • You can truly live in “Thy Will be Done” instead of “my will be done”
    • You can truly demonstrate “uncoerced love” to those who do not love you
    • You can grow in integrity when nobody is looking
    • You can influence this world through sacrifice not personal power politics

This is the stabilizing truth of every Christian martyr since Christ died alone

This is the stabilizing promise to all of God’s people “I am with you.”

Brent Aucoin

M.S. - Engineering, Purdue University
M.Div. - Central Baptist Seminary
Th.M. - Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Ph.D. - Baptist Bible Seminary

Pastor Brent Aucoin and his wife, Janet, came on staff in July of 1998.  Pastor Aucoin serves as overseer of Faith Seminary and Soul Care Ministries at Faith Church.

View Pastor Aucoin's Salvation Testmony Video