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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Saturday Evening, February 17, 2018

“And they came to a place which was named Gethsemane: and he saith to his disciples, Sit ye here, while I shall pray. And he taketh with him Peter and James and John, and began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy; And saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch” (Mark 14:32-34).

Christ had eaten the Passover meal with His Disciples. At the end of the dinner, Christ had given them the bread and the cup – which we call “the Lord’s Supper.” He told them that the bread spoke of His body, which would be crucified the next morning. He told them that the cup spoke of His Blood, which He would shed to cleanse us from our sin. Then Jesus and the Disciples sang a hymn, and left the room to go out into the night.

They walked down Jerusalem’s eastern slope and crossed the brook Cedron. Then they walked a little farther, to the edge of the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus left eight of the Disciples at the edge of the Garden and told them to pray. Then He went deeper into the Garden where He left Peter, James and John. Jesus Himself went farther into the darkness, under the olive trees. It was there that he “began to be sore amazed [very stunned] and to be very heavy [very distressed]; And saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death... And he went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him” (Mark 14:33, 35).

J. C. Ryle said, “The history of our Lord’s agony in the Garden of Gethsemane is a deep and mysterious passage of Scripture. It contains things which the wisest [theologians] cannot fully explain. Yet it has...plain truths of [great] importance” (J. C. Ryle, Expository Remarks on Mark, The Banner of Truth Trust, 1994, p. 316; notes on Mark 14:32-42).

Let us go in our minds to Gethsemane this evening. Mark tells us that He was “sore amazed” (Mark 14:33). The Greek word is “ekthambeisthai” – which means “greatly amazed, greatly distressed, astonished and alarmed.” “And He went forward a little, and fell on the ground”...And He said unto them, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death” (Mark 14:34, 35).

J. C. Ryle said, “There is only one reasonable explanation for these expressions. It was no mere fear of the physical suffering...It was a sense of the enormous load of human guilt, which began at that time to press upon Him in a peculiar way. It was a sense of the [unspeakable] weight of our sins and transgressions which were then being laid upon Him. He was being made ‘a curse for us.’ He was bearing our griefs and sorrows...He was being ‘made sin for us who Himself knew no sin.’ His holy nature felt [deeply] the hideous burden laid upon Him. These were the reasons for His extraordinary sorrow. We ought to see in our Lord’s agony in Gethsemane the exceeding sinfulness of sin. [The thoughts of evangelicals today] are far below what they should be regarding sin” (Ryle, p. 317).

May you not think lightly of the sins of missing church, neglecting Bible reading while instead watching video games, pornography, dancing and drunkenness. All of these sins of yours were laid on Jesus in Gethsemane. But there is more – far more. The greatest sin which was placed on Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane is our original sin, our total depravity, which comes from our being totally depraved sinners. It is “the corruption that is in the world through lust” (II Peter 1:4). It is the fact that “we are all as an unclean thing” (Isaiah 64:6). It is the selfishness, greed, and rebellion in your natures against God. It is your “carnal mind [which] is enmity against God” which rebels against God and wants to live without Him (Romans 8:7). It is the ugly, disgusting heart that you have (Romans 8:7). It is the sinful heart you have, which has passed down to you from Adam, the first sinner. It comes down from him in your genes, in your blood, and in your soul. (Romans 5:12) – “ one man's disobedience [all mankind] were made sinners” (Romans 5:19).

Look how tiny newborn babies are born in sin. A. W. Pink said, “The corruption of human nature discovers itself in little children...And at what an early date it does! If there were any [inherited] goodness in man, it would surely show itself [in newborn babies], before evil habits are formed by contact with the world. But do we find [babies] good? Far from it. The unvarying result of growth in human beings is that as soon as they are old enough [they are] evil ones. They manifest self-will, spite and revenge. They cry and pout for what is not good for them, and are [angry with their parents] when being refused, often attempting to [bite them]. Those born and brought up in the midst of honesty are guilty of [stealing] before they ever witness an act of theft. These [faults]...human nature is seen to be [sinful] from the beginning of its existence” (A. W. Pink, Gleanings from the Scriptures, Man’s Total Depravity, Moody Press, 1981, pp. 163, 164). The Minnesota Crime Commission made it even clearer in one of its reports. “Every baby starts life as a little savage. He is completely selfish and self-centered. He wants what he wants when he wants it...his mother’s attention, his playmate’s toy, his uncle’s watch. Deny him these [things] and he screams with rage and aggressiveness, which would be murderous were he not so helpless...This means that all children, not just certain children, are born delinquent, i.e. sinners” (quoted by Haddon W. Robinson, Biblical Preaching, Baker Book House, 1980, pp. 144, 145).

Soon as we draw our infant breath,
The seeds of sin grow up for death;
Thy law demands a perfect heart,
But we’re defiled in every part.
   (“Psalm 51,” by Dr. Isaac Watts, 1674-1748).

A baby screams as soon as it is born. No baby animal does that. They would be killed quickly by other animals if they ranted and screamed as human babies do. But human babies scream against God, authority, and life itself moments after they are born. Why? Because you were born with inbred sin from your forefather Adam, that’s why. That’s why your tendency is to rebel, disagree with Christian leaders, demand your own way, and refuse to do what is right. This is the root cause of world-wide suffering and death – it is inbred sin. This is why you sin, even after conversion. Your parents may think you are a young Christian, but you are really a young sinner who hates to do the will of God!

Add all this original sin to the sins humans commit in thought, word and deed and it is easy to see why Jesus was in shock! He was crushed when God put the sins of the world on Him.

Please turn in your Bible to Luke’s description of this. It’s on page 1108 in the Scofield Study Bible. It’s Luke 22:44. Please stand and read it out loud.

“And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44).

You may be seated. J. C. Ryle said, “How can we [explain] the deep agony which our Lord underwent in the garden? What [was the] reason for the intense suffering, both mental and bodily, which He endured? There is only one satisfactory answer. It was the burden of [the] world’s imputed sin, which then began to press upon Him...It was the enormous weight of these [sins] which made Him suffer agony. It was the sense of [the] world’s guilt pressing Him down which made the eternal Son of God sweat great drops of blood” (J. C. Ryle, Luke, Volume 2, The Banner of Truth Trust, 2015 edition, pp. 314, 315; note on Luke 22:44).

“[God] hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin” (II Corinthians 5:21).

“The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).

“Who his own self bare our sins in his own body” (I Peter 2:24).

J. C. Ryle said, “We must cling firmly to the old doctrine that Christ was ‘bearing our sins,’ both in the garden [of Gethsemane] and on the cross. No other doctrine can ever explain [Christ’s bloody sweat], or satisfy the conscience of guilty man” (ibid.). Joseph Hart said,

See the suffering Son of God,
Panting, groaning, sweating blood!
Of His sufferings so intense
Angels have no perfect sense.
‘Tis to God and God alone
That their weight is fully known.
   (“Thine Unknown Sufferings” by Joseph Hart, 1712-1768;
      to the tune of “‘Tis Midnight, and on Olive’s Brow”).

Again, Joseph Hart said,

There God’s Son bore all my guilt;
This through grace can be believed;
But the horrors that he felt
Are too vast to be conceived.
None can penetrate through thee,
Dismal, dark Gethsemane.
   (“Many Woes He Had Endured” by Joseph Hart, 1712-1768;
      to the tune of “Come, Ye Sinners”).

And William Williams said,

The enormous load of human guilt was on the Saviour laid;
With woe as with a garment, He for sinners was arrayed,
For sinners was arrayed.
   (“Love in Agony” by William Williams, 1759;
      to the tune of “Majestic Sweetness Sits Enthroned”).

“And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44).

“The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).

This is the beginning of Christ’s vicarious atonement. “Vicarious” means the suffering of one person in the place of another. Christ is suffering in your place, for your sin, because He has no sin of His own. Christ became our sin-bearer in Gethsemane, under the olive trees at midnight. He would be nailed to a cross in the morning, making full payment for your sin. How can you reject such love – the love that Jesus has for you? How can you harden your heart and reject such love? This is God the Son, suffering in your place, to atone for your sin. Are you so cold and hard that His love for you means nothing?

May I ask you, have you become so cold and hard that when you hear of Jesus suffering for you it no longer moves you? Have you become so weird that I can speak of Jesus’ agony to atone for your sin and it has no meaning for you? Have you become as calloused as the soldiers who nailed Jesus to the Cross – and then gambled for His robe as He died nearby? Oh, may it not be so! I plead with you this evening to trust the Saviour and be washed clean of your sin by His holy Blood!

You say “There’s too much to give up.” Oh, may you stop listening to the Devil! There is nothing in this world as important as this!

Alas! and did my Saviour bleed? And did my Sovereign die?
Would He devote that sacred head For such a worm as I?

But [tears] of grief [cannot] repay The debt of love I owe;
Here, Lord, I give myself away, ‘Tis all that I can do.
   (“Alas! And Did My Saviour Bleed?” by Dr. Isaac Watts, 1674-1748).

Are you ready to trust Jesus? Are you ready to give yourself away to Him? Are you moved in your heart with love for Him? If not, please don’t go. But, if you are, come and sit in the first two rows. Amen.

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Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Gethsemane, The Olive-Press!” (by Joseph Hart, 1712-1768;
to the tune of “‘Tis Midnight, and on Olive’s Brow”).