Randall Caselman

Bella Vista Church of Christ

10/15/2017 P.M.

 

A Garden Lesson In Opportunity

Mark 14.32-42  Luke 22.39-46  Ephesians 5.15-16

 

Go with me to the Mount of Olives… There we join Jesus and His disciples.

We arrive at the Garden of Gethsemane for a lesson in OPPORTUNITY.

We’re not looking so much at the heart of Jesus… As we are noting the heart of the Apostles… Hearts that missed an opportunity to serve Jesus.

 

Church…

• I wonder how many opportunities we’ve missed in life to do good…

• To share Jesus with some precious soul…

• To befriend someone…

• To encourage one that was down.

 

I’ve told you about Tom Morgan… Tom came to manage the new J. C. Penney store opening in Fayetteville’s Northwest Arkansas Mall.

 

I was impressed…

• Beautiful family…

• Beautiful home…

• Dynamic personality…

• Always on top of the business world…

• Top rated manager in the Penney organization.

• President of his Civic Club…

• He seemed to have it all together…

We became friends.

 

I thought Tom to be the man I wanted most to be like... He seemed to have had it all together... One day Tom drove his MG to a secluded spot overlooking Beaver Lake and took his own life... Suicide... I was shocked!!!... We all were.

 

I missed the opportunity… I never saw the hurt… Was I not looking?... Did I not care?... I failed to at Tom’s Opportune Moment.

 

It was Shakespeare who spoke of the opportune moments… In Julius Caesar…

 

There is a tide in the affairs of men,

When taken at the flood, leads to fortune;

Omitted... And all the voyages of life

Are bound in the shallows and miseries.

It is on such a full sea we are now afloat,

And we must take the current when it serves

Or lose our ventures.

 

Shakespeare is saying…

• The tide of opportunity has great power.

• That the power is beyond human control.

• Power that is… UNrecallable… IRRETRIEVABLE...

• Power that will never happen again in just the same way with all the same possibilities... Producing the same results.

 

You see... The tide comes for but a few hours and is gone.

If we miss the flood... We are left in shallows… We have lost our venture... THE OPPORTUNITY IS GONE... Sometimes gone forever.

Some such opportunities are not retrievable… Not ever!!

 

It’s interesting to note that there are two Greek words for time in the New Testament.

One is CHRONOS... This word speaks of the time on our watches and calendars.

Another is  KAIROS... Kairos is ...

  • The opportune moment.

  • The perfect moment.

  • The moment pregnant with possibilities to Obey... Grow... Serve… and Save.

 

Indeed!!... There is power... Unimaginable... Irretrievable… Unrecallable… Power in doing the right thing at just the right moment... The moment prepared by God for our use.

 

Our lesson tonight is about such moments!!

Come with me to the garden… It’s located a half mile outside the city walls across the Kedron from Jerusalem...On the Mount of Olives.

Luke tells us that Jesus came here often to pray.

Eight of the apostles are left at the garden gate... Jesus takes three... The elite of the elect... Peter... James...  And John...Into the Garden… And urges them to watch and pray for Him.

Jesus appears to be asking these three men to assist him in this time of greatest need.

The text says he was… sorrowful...Troubled.

In fact... He told them... My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.

I’m not sure what that means... It might have meant that Jesus was so exhausted...So physically and mentally spent... That he could have died here in the garden... Sorrowed to the point of death.

 

Whatever He meant... That night… Jesus needed...

• Their shoulder...

• Their care...

• Their encouragement... 

• Their sympathy...

• Their prayers.

• Their presence…

And He did not receive it.

 

Jesus goes about a hundred yards... A stone’s throw… further and prays.

When we put the Synoptic Gospels together we find that Jesus first knelt in prayer…Then face down... Prone in the dirt... Praying... Father… Let this cup pass from me.

 

Jesus is asking that the physical and mental pain... The anguish… Of this event be removed. He goes back to His disciples and they are asleep... Could you not watch even for an hour? Again He goes and prays the second time. Jesus is… so disturbed... So sorrowful... that His sweat drains from Him as if it were drops of blood.

 

Again He goes seeking some… comfort...Sympathy... Assistance... From his closest friends...  But He finds none.

 

This time... And this is important to our lesson... He does not awake them... But allows them to sleep on... And He goes and prays alone.

 

Forsaken... Ignored... Shunned… By His closest friends... But Luke says… God sends an angel come to assist Him… God ministers to those nobody else will!!!

 

A few minutes later there’s the flickering of torches... You can see them through the olive trees… Looks like a crowd of people are crossing the Kedron headed toward the garden.

Jesus is led off to Caiaphas… The High Priest...

• And his disciples were left in the shallows...

• Hiding in the bushes of Gethsemane...

• In their fear and miseries...

Because you see... They missed the opportune moment.

They failed to use the opportunity God providently provided them.

 

We do the same thing... Don’t we?... Miss the Tide… The opportune moment.

 

Now... Let’s make application of our thoughts...

By reexamining this narrative… See what we can learn…

 

First...They missed the opportunity to Grow in Character

Everyone of us here tonight needs to grow and mature in character.

Listen to me church... We live in a culture which teaches that...

• Sin is a disease...

• A result of our genetics...

• Or the resulting influence of our environment.

 

We live in a time when moral relativism has settled across the land like a thick sickening fog... So we are being told there are… no absolutes... No truth… No right and wrong… Right and wrong is left up to the individual.

 

It should not surprise us that there is… Little talk... Serious talk... Even in our churches... About character growth… But we all need it... It’s a Bible concept.

 

Churches want Reader’s Digest sermons… Our brotherhood want sermons on Faith… Baptism… repentance…Instrumental music… Certainly not on Character growth!!

 

The New Testament teaches us that… As Children of God… We must grow... Improve... Mature...Conforming more and more and more to the image of Jesus.

 

Now we must know tonight that character growth cannot occur at every moment under every set of circumstances. There aretides in the development of character...

• Catch them and growth is ours...

• Miss them and we are left in the shallows and miseries.

 

There are times in life.... When God providently brings us into situations and circumstances where we can grow and improve… Become closer to him… Become more like His Son.

 

Isn’t this what Jesus taught in the parable of the vine and the branches... I am the true vine... My Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit… While every branch that does bear fruit… LISTEN NOW… He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.

 

How about 1 Peter 1.5-9... By faith... You are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice… Though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These come (WHY???)... So that your faith may be proved genuine and may result in praise… Glory… and Honor… When Jesus Christ is revealed... For you are receiving the goal of your faith… The salvation of your souls.

 

Question…What great opportune moments is God bringing into your life and mine?

Are we learning anything in… the trying timesIn our own suffering... A crises... our own GethsEmane?

 

What constitutes our Gethsemane tonight?

• Maybe the death of one we loved very much

• Perhaps an inner voice of conscience that calls us to do right.

• Maybe an example of someone we admire.

• A verse or two of scripture

• A piece of lace that belonged to mother or grandmother… You found marking a Bible verse.

• A letter from an old friend.

• Perhaps the words of a sermon... Perhaps this sermon tonight.

 

Whatever it is... If you are caused to want to expand and develop your character beyond that which you have known before... Claim that moment!... Catch The Tide!

 

Secondly…The apostles missed the opportunity to grow in friendship with Jesus.

I believe God created us for relationships...

• A correct relationship with Him...

• And a right relationship with one another.

And church... God brings times and circumstances into our lives when we can grow to Him… And to one another.

 

Jesus was in… deep agony... He was troubled... My soul is sorrowful even unto death.

 

Jesus…NEEDED... WANTED... YEARNED FOR…

• Their comfort and companionship...

• Their fellowship...

• Their presence with Him that night.

He wanted them to… just show up!!

But they stayed home that night… So Jesus went off to pray alone... That’s sad... Isn’t it?

 

He wanted them to hold His hand… But… NO… They had rather sleep. To all His other burdens… They added loneliness...Sad Indeed! For Jesus… There were no words of… Sympathy... Understanding.... and Encouragement.

 

There was no one to wipe the bloody perspiration… To hold Him in a tight hug.

• This is the Jesus who was filled with compassion.

• He saw the multitudes as sheep without a shepherd.

• He healed their sick (Peter’s mother-in-law in Capernaum.

• Restored sight to the blind

• Enabled the lame to walk again.

• He gave life to the dead.

• He fed the hungry thousands.

          • He cried as he said… 0 Jerusalem… Jerusalem…How often would I have cared for you but you wouldn’t allow me.

 

But in His moment of greatest need... There was not one friend willing to stand by Him.

 

Church... Has God brought someone into your life... Or mine… That we know we should serve... That we should Be a friend to?... To support them in their need?

     • Perhaps some beggar asking for help…

     • Maybe a neighbor who is lost in sin…

     • Maybe a church member going through some personal crises.

 

Perhaps there’s someone now... Even tonight... To whom we ought to speak.

     • A word of encouragement…

     • Maybe a word of reproof… 

     • An apology…

     • Forgiveness..

     • A word about religion.

As often as you do it unto the least of these… You’ve done it unto Me.

     • Don’t ignore the tide...

     • Don’t spurn the urge…

     • Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit...

Because the truth is there will never be another opportunity just like this one… Catch the tide!!... Now is the accepted time…Today is the day of salvation.

God is at Work in my life and yours…

     • Believe it…

     • Accept it…

     • Make use of the opportune moment.

 

Thirdly...The disciples missed the opportunity to grow closer to God.

Anyone of us can… Strike a match... Light a candle... Ignite a bonfire.

But not one of us... Or all of us together… Can kindle the flaming power of the Holy Spirit of God.

 

Jesus told Nicodemus that the Holy Spirit comes and goes like the wind…Utterly outside of any direction or control on our part.

 

The Spirit of God works totally out of human control or direction.

The Holy Spirit of God was there that night… Working in the garden… Working in the lives who were willing to submit.

But not in the lives of these men... They slept through it.

 

God is working in this audience tonight in those of us who are...

• Willing to listen...

• Willing to believe....

• Willing to obey.

Notice that while Jesus awoke the disciples the first time... He did not waken them the second time... When He found them sleeping again He went away.

 

In other words... We cannot depend on the Holy Spirit to interrupt our life in such a dramatic fashion each and every time we hear a lesson from the Word of God

 

In fact we are told that with each quickening of our heart and conscience... There comes a hardening process... A searing.

 

Everytime we are convinced and convicted by the Word… And we ignore it…Satan wins and it becomes easier for us to say no to the Spirit… At the next prompting… At the next nudging.

• That’s what Paul tells us in First Timothy.

• In Ephesians chapter four... He says... Some are seared past feeling.

 

You see… Sometimes the Spirit of God gives up....

• He did just that in the days of Noah... RIGHT?...

• He did again with the evil cities of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis nineteen.

 

There’s a tide in the affairs of men...

That when taken leads to spiritual fortune... Even to salvation.

Omitted... Missed... And we are left in shallows and in miseries.

 

Don’t say NO to God tonight.

Don’t say anything about doing it tomorrow.

Tomorrow is a word the Bible knows nothing about.

Nowhere in this book does the Holy Spirit say... Do it tomorrow.

 

The word of God is today... Now is the accepted time... Today is the day of salvation.

 

Become a Child of God now... By faith... Repentance and New Testament Baptism... For the forgiveness of sin.

 

As Children of GodLet me challenge us to TAKE THIS OPPORTUNITY...

     • To grow in character....

     • To become a friend of Jesus…

     • And to grow closer to our creator God.

 

Determine to do it now!!!... As we stand and sing this invitation song together.