Obedience In The Garden

In Audio, Sermons by Geoff Chapman

Sermon Summary: John 18:1-11

John begins his account of our Lord’s passion with a narrative that is remarkable both for its vivid detail and its omission of key features included in the other Gospels.  His narrative brings to the fore two things: Firstly, he emphasises Jesus’ command of the situation, he was in complete control of his own capture.  Missing out Jesus’ Gethsemane prayer and Judas’ kiss he highlights the fact that Jesus went forth to meet his captors, their fear of him and their obedience to his command to let the other disciples go free.  Secondly, he alludes to the contrasts between Christ’s actions in Gethsemane and Adam’s actions in Eden.  The Garden, the search, the reversed roles of God and man, even Peter’s sword are all allusions to Adam’s disobedience.  John’s purpose in both these things is to focus our attention on the obedience of Christ, fulfilling a key theme of the Gospel, Jesus’ willing sacrifice (e.g. John 10:17-18)

Doctrine & Application

  1. When we are justified, we are not just forgiven, but Christ’s obedience is credited (or imputed) to us.  This means that our access to the Father is the same as Jesus’.  
  2. The Holy Spirit enables us to begin to obey God in the same way as Jesus, subjugation and fear are replaced with heartfelt humility and understanding.  Christians should not obey God out of fear of punishment.  Rather, we should humbly submit to God’s commands in the Bible even if we don’t understand them.  This humility contrasts strongly with our individualistic and anti-authoritarian culture, but the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  That being the case, humble submission should lead us to understanding, and an obedience that delights in God’s law, loving what he loves and hating what he hates. Over time we should seek wisdom & understanding through prayer, meditation on Scripture and the counsel of godly friends. (Romans 12:2)
  3. Christ’s willingness reminds of his love for us and willingness to die for us – “he loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20).  We don’t need to hide our sin from God or others through fear that we will be rejected – Just as Jesus knew what faced him in his passion and give himself willingly, so Jesus knew what he was taking on when he saved us!
  4. Jesus’ perfect obedience undoes all that Adam’s sin wrought. (Rom 5:19)  Jesus’ obedience leads to the renewal of the whole universe and salvation for humanity.  In our own lives he brings restoration from sin and healing for wounds.

Other Incidental Applications

  1. The richness of Scripture here reveals its divine authority!  
  2. Don’t be embarrassed if you find it easiest to pray in one particular place.  If you find it hard to pray, seek to make a routine of place and time, like Jesus did.  
  3. The enemy’s cunning revealed in Judas’ knowledge of Jesus’ habits. Evil is not merely a passive force, but the devil and his agents plot and plan.  We should be wise to the enemy’s schemes in our homes, families, churches and society.  (2 Corinthians 2:11)
  4. Judas’ presence in the story reminds us of the danger of a hard heart and the pain of seeing it in those who have professed faith in Christ.  Check your own heart – these are the signs we should look for:
    1. A cherished or unchallengeable sin
    2. Pride – expecting people to listen to us or do what we say no matter what, thinking we are right, even when everyone else disagrees!
    3. Hypocrisy – wanting people to do what we say or be like we want ourselves to be, even when we don’t do the same things
    4. Anger, rebellion, restlessness, grumbling and selfish actions in the place of joy, peace, humility and love
    5. Accusation – consistently accusing God or his people of wrong-doing
    6. Being on the wrong team.  If you find yourself consistently identifying with non-Christians or non-Christians view points, then the chances are it’s you who are on the wrong side of the fence, not everyone else!

    If you see these things in your life something is seriously wrong!  You are in a position of grave danger to yourself and you are probably causing more damage and hurt than you know!  Ask God to show you where you have gone wrong, melt your heart,  lead you to repentance and fill you again with his love.

    It can really hurt to see a hard-hearted person who confessed Christ, whether they are still in a church or have left it.  In a fellowship they can sow dischord, spoil plans and fill gatherings with a confrontational atmosphere.  Often they make you feel that if they’d just go away then everything would be perfect! (Which isn’t true of course!) If someone has left church they can seem impossible to restore to faith and often slander and bad-mouth their former brethren with inside knowledge that can be particularly hurtful.  Even in these situations, it is important that to know that God is working his purposes in them and the church.  (1 Cor 11:19, perhaps?)

  5. The clumsiness of Peter’s ignorant zeal.   When using ungodly means to serve God we make a pig’s (Malchus’) ear of it. As James tellsillustrates for us: “The anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” (James 1:20)  Guilt-tripping, passive aggression, controlling behaviour, manipulation and anger are not ways to disciple each other, lead others or grow a church! (Just to take a few examples!)
Study Questions
  1.   How might a parent feel about a child that obeys them perfectly, humbly and with a desire to understand the reasons for their instructions (apart from being freaked out!)?  If Christ’s obedience is credited to us by faith, what then does this tell us about God’s attitude towards us? What do you normally think God feels about you? 
  2.  If we are credited Christ’s righteousness, is God more pleased with us when we actually obey him?  Is he displeased with us when we disobey?  How do these things all fit together?  (I’ll admit, this is a tricky question, but worth thinking about if you have the time!) 
  3.  “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom.” Why?  Does our culture agree? In what areas of life is this particularly important today?  (Bonus question for parents: Should our parenting model this same thing, i.e. teaching children to instinctively submit to those in authority over them in order to gain understanding?) 
  4.  What difference does it make that Jesus willingly died for you, knowing what sin you would commit?  Has there ever been a time when you have especially realised this truth? 
  5.  Can you share a time when you’ve clearly seen  Christ’s restoration at work in someone’s life?