In the sixteenth chapter of Matthew, Jesus asked His disciples who men thought He was. There were several answers: some thought He was John the Baptist, some Elijah, some Jeremiah, or some other prophet. Then He asked His disciples if they knew who He was, and Peter answered, saying, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus then confirmed that Peter’s answer was a revelation from God, and upon that revelation He would build His Church. Then He told them to tell no one that He was the Christ (Matthew 16:13-20). It was necessary for the disciples to know by revelation that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God. And now that they did, they were ready for the following teaching.
Matthew 16:21 From that time forth began Jesus to show unto His disciples, how that He must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.
After the disciples received the revelation of Jesus as the Christ, He began telling them about His death and resurrection. It was necessary to prepare them for the coming events of His crucifixion
Matthew 16:22-23 Then Peter took Him, and began to rebuke Him, saying, Be it far
from Thee, Lord: this shall not be unto Thee.
23 But He turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind Me, Satan: thou art an offence unto Me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.
Peter did not understand at this time why Jesus must die. Nevertheless, in his ignorance he became an adversary to the will of God. The word “satan” means “adversary.” Jesus was already set for His crucifixion. He had predetermined to do and be the will of God. He would not allow anything or anybody to veer Him away from His mission. He guarded most intensely His dedication to the cross.
Matthew 16:24-25 Then said Jesus unto His disciples, If any man will come after
Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.
25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it.
Now Jesus begins telling His disciples that they will have a cross experience, too. The same is true for us. If we would become members of the many-membered Body of Christ, then we must also experience a crucifixion. Our crucifixion, though, will be a crucifixion of our self-well. And the cross experience is to be at our initiative. We must deny self, we must take up our cross, and we must follow Him in the same dedication and determination to do the will of God. Anyone that would save his life by avoiding the work of the cross will lose the life they could have had in Christ. Jesus would not even allow one of His disciples to draw Him away from His course, but sharply rebuked him calling him an adversary. We need the same intensity. Things will rise up in your own nature as an adversary to the will of God. No one knows how difficult it is to take up their cross until they are determined to do so, and it is then that the adversaries will rise up against them.
John 12:24-28 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into
the ground and die, it abides alone: but if it dies, it brings forth much
25 He that loves his life shall lose it; and he that hates his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.
26 If any man serve Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there shall also My servant be: if any man serve Me, him will My Father honor.
27 Now is My soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save Me from this hour” but for this cause came I unto this honor.
28 Father, glorify Thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.
Jesus likened Himself to a corn of wheat that is sown, dies, and brings forth much fruit. In the same manner, His death shall bring forth a harvest unto God. The death of an individual Christ will result in a many-membered Christ. The blood of Jesus Christ was not shed solely for the forgiveness of our sins. His ultimate goal was the creation of a many-membered Christ through whom He would be glorified. God glorified His name in Jesus Christ, and He will glorify it again through the Christ-Body.
Jesus Christ knew what His mission was, and He was dedicated to the accomplishment of it. Already, though, the adversaries were rising up against Him. He said, Now is My soul troubled. The closer He got to the cross, the greater was the assault against Him. Satan did not want Him to go to the cross, for that would be his defeat. Notice that the assault was on the soul realm. The adversary could not reach His spirit. But in no way was He going to ask the Father to deliver Him from this hour; He was dedicated to the will of God. You can’t imagine the intensity of His spirit at this time.
Matthew 26:36-40, 43-44 Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called
Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray
37 And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.
38 Then saith He unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with Me.
39 And He went a little further, and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me: nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt.
40 And He cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with Me one hour?
43 And He came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy.
44 And He left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.
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.
The satanic assault was so intense He was near death. But don’t get the idea that He was getting weak in His determination to His cross. He wasn’t asking the Father, as some suppose, to be relieved of His mission. He wasn’t having second thoughts at the last minute and wanted out. Satan wanted to kill Him to keep Him from going to the cross. Jesus’ battle was to stay alive until He could get there. He had to fight to get on the cross.
Why were the disciples unable to stay awake? It wasn’t a natural tiredness. Satan is a religious spirit, and one of the signs of the presence of a religious spirit is heaviness and sleepiness. The stronger the spirit, the greater the heaviness. The disciples could not stay awake because of the presence of Satan.
The battle of Gethsemane was a fight to get on the cross. Jesus knew what He must do, and He would not be denied. When you set your heart to deny self, to take up your cross and follow Jesus, you will also have a Gethsemane battle. The adversary will not want you to die to self, because then you will be a member of the Body of Christ that executes the judgments and victories of the Lord. Set your heart to be dedicated to your cross experience. The Lord Jesus knows what the battle of Gethsemane is; He will help you through.
Copyright © 1998 by Henry DuBose