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Palms in the Garden

Matthew 26:36-56



Just outside Jerusalem was a little garden…the garden of Gethsemane.  Jerusalem has always been a very crowded city / property hard to come by / wealthy would purchase private garden spots on the slopes of the Mount of Olives…

        This one was probably owned by a friend of the Lord Jesus and was a special place for Him to go for rest, relaxation, prayer (I hope you have that special place to get alone w/ God)


Gethsemane means “oil press.  Evidently, it was a place where they would harvest the olives from the trees, press and crush them to remove the oil.

        This is significant because Jesus was about to be crushed and pressed, so the oil of salvation could flow freely to the world.


This side of heaven, we may never understand what Jesus went thru that night in this garden…our vocabulary would go bankrupt to try to express the depth of that experience.  Here it was that Jesus surrendered to go to the cross…so it was here in the garden that the victory of the cross was actually won!

        Let’s approach this message w/ reverence, because we’re on holy ground as we walk together into this garden!


Let’s have an early Thanksgiving.  And Christmas only happened in view of the events which were to happen in our text. [born to die]  Actually, let’s observe Palm Sunday in the fall…


Think about Jesus’ palms…the hands of our Savior:

No doubt, Jesus’ hands were rough and calloused from his work in His father’s carpenter’s shop. But His touch was gentle, with the power of God flowing through them.  After all, those hands formed the universe!


Little fingers which once were held onto by mother, were the very fingers which fashioned the stars!  And when fully grown they would someday grip the cross of Calvary.  I wonder if in that carpenter’s shop as a boy he ever picked up a spike and rolled it between his thumb and finger, anticipating the pain?


He healed the unclean leper:

Matthew 8:3
3 And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.


He healed the blind:

Mark 8:22
22 And he cometh to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man unto him, and besought him to touch him.


He healed the deaf:

Mark 7:34
34 And looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened.


He healed Peter’s mother-in-law:

Matthew 8:15
15 And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them.


Through His hands flowed his resurrection power, restoring life to a dead twelve-year-old girl:

Matthew 9:25
25 But when the people were put forth, he went in, and took her by the hand, and the maid arose.


He restored a young man to life:

Luke 7:14
14 And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise.


But His touch was not just for the physically ill. He had hands of mercy for frightened Peter, who was drowning:

Matthew 14:31
31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?

He had hands of forgiveness, which bent down and wrote in the sand beside a woman of the night, while stones dropped in a circle all around!


He had hands of blessing for little children and babies:

Matthew 19:15
15 And he laid his hands on them, and departed thence.


Through His hands he defeated the destruction of a man’s life by demons:

Mark 9:27
27 But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose.


His hands broke the unleavened bread and passed the cup to His beloved disciples the night before his crucifixion, including His betrayer, Judas Iscariot:

John 13:26
26 Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.


But, more than anything else, when we think of His hands, we think of the nails that pierced them:

Psalm 22:16
16 …they pierced my hands and my feet.


Thomas, one of His disciples, needed proof of Jesus’ resurrection and looked for it in Jesus’ hands:

John 20:25
25 The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.

Later, Jesus appeared in their midst and showed His nail-scarred hands to Thomas. And he believed.


He served His stunned disciples on the shore of the Sea of Galilee:

John 21:13
13 Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise.


With His hands, Jesus blessed his followers before he ascended into heaven:

Luke 24:50
50 And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them.

And it is in His hands that we remain eternally secure in Christ, resting in His providential care:

John 10:28
28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

During this season, remember His hands. They reached out to His world then. They reach out to our world now.  And with His hands, He touched me [sing]


Several palms we’ll notice along the path:


  1. Palms of sorrow

v. 37-38       phrase “exceeding sorrowful” comes from one Greek word meaning “surrounded by sorrow” / in a whirlpool of sorrow / engulfed by sorrow


Why did He experience this sorrow in the garden?  3 reasons:


  • The emotional suffering He was about to endure

Jesus was subjected to every negative emotional attack possible:   

Luke 22:44
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.

In medical language he experienced hematidrosis, or bloody sweat in which under extreme duress the blood vessels of the scalp actually burst.  And perhaps kneeling there He placed His palms of sorrow over His face as He sweat great drops of blood!

Add to this stress the unbelief of people calling Him liar and blasphemer (it hurts to have your integrity  doubted / sincerity questioned)

Rejection of people (that He loved…He came unto His own…)

Hatred of religious leaders of that day

Betrayal of Judas Iscariot (who walked w/ Him for 3 years / prayed w/ Him / His treasurer!  He betrayed Him for 30 pieces of silver, the price of a slave!)

Desertion by all the disciples is coming

The coming denial of one of His own (He’s already predicted Peter’s denial)

Injustice of His coming trial (convicted in a kangaroo court that broke every law of jurist prudence of that day…He was convicted of crimes for which He was not guilty!)

He knew he would be further ridiculed, spit upon, stripped naked (greatest indignity, put to open shame)


If you or I experienced any one of the above we would be devastated, yet Jesus went thru it all at once!


Salvation may be free, but it’s not cheap!

With palms of sorrow upon His face He endured the emotional suffering!

  • Physical Suffering

He knew a rugged cross awaited Him…and they say to be crucified is to die 1,000 deaths!


v. 38 makes it clear his emotional suffering led to physical suffering immediately-- “even unto death”!  His physical body recoils at the thought…not that He was afraid to die, for He faced death w/ courage and w/ perfect peace…but no one in their right mind looks forward to torture and death.  You’re not looking forward to dying!  If the Dr. gives you a choice between living and dying, you’ll take living every time!  As humans we have a built-in defense mechanism to resist pain and death.

        Can you see the palms of sorrow, as Jesus looks down at His hands, knowing in advance the spikes which will be driven thru them?


But the worst part of His suffering wasn’t physical or emotional…


  • His Spiritual suffering was the worst

v. 39        He picked up that cup w/ His palms…and in that cup was much more than physical and emotional suffering…for in that cup was the sin of all humanity / accumulated sin of all the ages about to be laid upon the sinless, perfect Son of God.

        And we cannot even pretend to imagine the repugnance He must have felt at the thought of becoming our sin…to the point His own Father could not look upon Him (He would cry from the cross, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”)


We’ve seen His palms of sorrow…


  1. Palms of surrender

v. 42        (last phrase) “Thy will be done”  In His humanity He may have buried His face in palms of sorrow…but thank God He looked up w/ palms of surrender!


Another garden to consider today: 

The Garden of Eden:…here the first Adam exerted his own will and brought about the ruin and damnation of the human race.

But in the Garden of Gethsemane:the last Adam Jesus Christ didn’t exert His own will, but deserted His own will!…and in so doing brought about the redemption of the human race!


The first Adam said, my will be done—and brought about death

But the last Adam said, Thy will be done—and the result was salvation!


Thank the Lord that w/ palms of surrender He did God’s will!

        And when I think of that surrendering of Jesus’ will, it makes me wonder how we can ever exert our own wills in the face of Almighty God!


And daily, we make choices…and we answer either “My will” or “Thy will”.  You faced that question just in getting up today!

        Satan tries to keep us busy, and gives us alternatives to being faithful to God’s house, and we answer my will or thy will…tithing / serving / witnessing / tv viewing / surfing net /tax time! / punch time card / invitation given


We sing “I Surrender All”…but some should just be honest and sing “Some to Jesus I surrender, some to Him I freely give…I will sometimes love and trust Him, in His presence sometimes live!”…He deserves better than that!


With complete and total palms of surrender He willingly gave all!  And so should we.


We’ve seen His palms of sorrow:

His palms of…

Emotional suffering (face)

                Physical suffering (nails in hands)

Spiritual suffering (looking into that cup, he held in His palms)

We’ve seen His palms of surrender:  “Thy will be done!”


  1. Palms of submission

(in v. 50 they came and laid their palms on Him)


v. 51-56   Jesus knew they were coming / could feel ground shake from trampling of marching feet / hear shouts of the mob / see lights of torches / hear clanging of swords.  But Jesus didn’t run / resist…but w/ palms of submission He did what He’d already committed to do.  He had surrendered to God…but now He was submitting to man!


v. 47        It was a great multitude, perhaps hundreds of armed soldiers came out to arrest a carpenter, the Prince of Peace!


v. 48-49   Judas betrays Him w/ a kiss…and now Peter is awake…he was asleep, along w/ the others, which might explain why they all forsook Jesus and fled…they had been sleeping when they were supposed to be praying!


v. 51        Well, Peter’s awake now and he does what he does best…something rash!  He pulls out a sword and tries to take off the head of one of them!

        Jesus told Peter to put it away, picked up that ear with His hand and miraculously reattached it…and good thing He did, or there would have been 4 crosses on Mt. Calvary!  But Jesus chose the cup over the sword, praise God!


What’s in your cup?  Sorrow, suffering?  Is it emotional?  Physical?  Spiritual?

Will you surrender it to God?  “Thy will be done”

        It’s God’s will for you to be saved…then make it public thru baptism…and that takes submission…so does the decision to get faithful / tithe / serve / work / witness / do right / be honest / come to the altar!

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