Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Mount of Olives (Gethsemane)

And He came out and proceeded as was His custom to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples also followed Him. When He arrived at the place, He said to them, "Pray that you may not enter into temptation." And He withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, saying, "Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done." Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground. When He rose from prayer, He came to the disciples and found them sleeping from sorrow, and said to them, "Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not enter into temptation." Luke 22:39-46

The third mountain we follow Christ up shows the selflessness required in true discipleship.  There was a great agony in the garden on this mountain beside Jerusalem.  The disciples learned the teachings of Christ on the Mt. of the Beatitudes and felt the power of Christ on the Mt. of Transfiguration.  Now they came to the place where the water hit the wheel.  Understanding and experience both need the "garden" to determine their ultimate value.

Jesus had to choose whether or not to go on and accept the penalty of death on the cross for our sins.  This was the hardest decision of his ministry.  He would have to bear our guilt and the penalty for the sins of the whole world. Jesus requested of the Father to show Him any other way so He would not have to go through with it.  In the end He put His will aside to obey his Father's plan.  Yet not My will, but Yours be done states clearly the denial of personal rights and acceptance of Christian responsibility.

Christianity lived in its fullest will, by its very nature, call for death to self in service to God.  Jesus had the courage to finish the course.  He was willing to do whatever God needed Him to do; even to die on the cross for our sins.  Jesus could have called on thousands of angels to protect Him from being arrested, but He allowed Himself to be arrested for a crime He didn't commit.  He could have disappeared from those who came to take Him, but He gave Himself willingly to a wrongful arrest.

This is a hard mountain to climb.  Yet, it really separates followers from disciples, onlookers from servants.  It is on this mountain the call is made for commitment.

God gives responsibility through Gethsemanes - personal encounters with God.  Every individual faces times in their lives when they must determine what it is that God wills them to do and whether they will accept the responsibility.  It is our "Responsibilities" that reveal our "Purpose".  Accepting responsibility often requires denying ourselves and submitting to God’s will for our lives.  Feeling the purpose God gives creates a passion making submission easier.  We become passionate for Christ, hungry for His presence in our life and yielding to His direction.  The real test comes when God leads us outside our comfort zone and into the task that only He can do through us!  

Only after you have pursued God’s will for your life, can you experience the personalization of Christianity.  You find your purpose, your priorities, and your ministry.  God gives us "Gethsemanes' which set our individual responsibilities that we can take up and follow Him.

This mount brought Christ His greatest test, but led to His greatest hour.  To turn back from this mountain means to accept a lesser goal for your life.  Here is where you decide if you will quietly observe from the sidelines or snatch the ball and run for the goal.  Don’t pass off your responsibilities.  Gethsemane is the place of decision and commitment.  Make the decision and take action.  Take up your cross and follow Him today.  

Scripture to Claim:
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.”  Matthew 16:24

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