11th July 2023
Read (Matthew 26v36-46)
Message (Scott Woodburn)
Every year the President of the United States gives an address called the "State of the Union". The USA is made up of fifty different States which are united into one larger country and so the State of the Union address speaks to the current health and fortune of the United States of America. Closer to home we often speak about our own "precious union" and we proudly raise the Union flag of our country. But before I stir your patriotic feelings, today we are going to consider the most precious union of all - the hypostatic union.
Jesus took His disciples to the garden of Gethsemane where He told them to sit and wait while He prayed (v36). Why did Jesus need to pray? Because He is true God AND true man - we call this the hypostatic union. Jesus wasn't a hybrid man nor was He a lesser God. In the person of Christ there are two natures, the divine and the human. Jesus entered Gethsemane carrying an unspeakable weight. The darkness of hell was approaching and the cup of God's wrath would soon be poured out upon Christ and so He prayed.
Gethsemane means "oil press" and so it seems fitting that the weight of Christ's burden pressed down upon Him in the garden. He told Peter, James and John “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” (v38) Jesus wasn't sad or a little bit upset, He was experiencing a dreadful and crushing anguish. J.C. Ryle explains the Lord's sorrow in this way “How can we account for the deep agony which our Lord underwent in the garden? It was caused by the burden of a world’s imputed sin.” He left His disciples and fell face down praying “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” (v39). The first Adam fell in the garden as he freely chose the path of disobedience. Christ the second Adam knew awful anguish but freely walked the path of obedience.
He prayed “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” and “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” Here we see Christ's humanity and perfect obedience. He asks if there is another way that is in keeping with God's saving plan. Did salvation require the beating, scorn and shame of the cross? Frederick Leahy answers “For Christ to be our Saviour there was no other way than the way of the cross. God’s righteousness demanded it, our sin required it and Satan feared it.” Jesus would bleed, He would suffer, He would know agony and torture but Christ the man would not buckle or break - "your will be done" He said. Christ the true man, the perfect obedient servant proved to be the true Adam in Gethsemane. The Lamb would die for the sins of His people.
As Christ was pressed on all sides, His disciples slept (v40,43). They may have been willing to stay with Christ but they succumbed to the weakness of the flesh (v41). One commentator puts it his way "The sleepers for whom Christ would die have lost their opportunity to gain strength through prayer. By contrast, Jesus has prayed in agony but now rises with poise and advances to meet his betrayer." The quiet anguish of Gethsemane was broken by the noise of betrayal as Judas and a great crowd approached (v45-46)
No matter how bad things get for us, we will never know an experience like Gethsemane. The garden was endured by Jesus and Him alone, nevertheless, in the moments that we are pressed on all sides, we can do no better than to pray. Furthermore, we would do well to journey to Gethsemane frequently where our sinful arrogance is turned to humility. Ambrose of Milan explains the garden like this “Jesus grieved for me, who had no cause of grief for Himself; and, laying aside the delights of the eternal Godhead, He experiences the affliction of my weakness.” Christ was pressed in the garden for our sake, He endured hell so that we might rejoice in heaven. I thank God for the hypostatic union, Gethsemane and the Gospel - how shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?
Q95 To whom is Baptism to be administered? Baptism is not to be administered to any that are out of the visible Church, till they profess their faith in Christ, and obedience to him; but the infants of such as are members of the visible Church are to be baptized.