Gethsemane: What To Do At Your Breaking Point
- By Dr. Chris Gnanakan
- Published 03/27/2010
Dr. Chris Gnanakan
Revd. Dr. Chris Gnanakan, DMin, PhD. is the Director of Training for Outreach To Asia Nationals. OTAN serves in over nine countries in Asia where traditional missions is ‘restricted’, by equipping and empowering national, pastoral leaders to fulfil the great commission.
Chris, a native of Bangalore, worked as an electrician in MICO factory for 3 years before theological studies at the Word of Life Bible Institute and School of Youth Mission (New York). He obtained a Bachelor’s Degree from Tennessee Temple University and went on to do a Master’s in Divinity at Temple Baptist Seminary that he completed at the Asia Graduate School of Theology.
Chris was a youth pastor and ordained at Emmanuel Baptist Church. In 1990 he founded Banaswadi Bible Church where he was the pastor-teacher for over 10 years. He is known as a Youth, Bible & Mission conference speaker and for his radio broadcast with FEBA (Transforming Truth) and TWR (Thru the Bible). His passion is for evangelism, whole-life discipleship, mentoring, training leaders & empowering the Church in Mission.
Chris lectures on and produces curriculum for ‘Biblical Mandate for Evangelism’ at the Haggai Institute for Leadership Development (since 1999 at Maui & Singapore). As an evangelical, he has served as a consultant with the Commission on World Mission & Evangelism on-site London, Switzerland, Athens, Germany, Ghana, Kenya, Chile and with Urban Missions in Thailand, Hong Kong, Philippines and China.
During his stay and PhD research in the UK, Chris was a Teaching Assistance at the University of Leeds in the department of Theology & Religious Studies and also served as a minister at the South Parade Baptist Church, where he developed outreach & care cells. Chris teaches ‘Clinical Pastoral Education’ at the Bangalore Baptist Hospital. He is chairman for the Christian Forum for Child Development & Samaritan Purse’s regional Prescription for Hope program
Since 1995, Chris joined SAIACS as Professor and HoD of Pastoral Theology & Counseling and Dean of Chapel. Here, for 13 years, he trained leaders for ministry and mission in India’s globalising context and is passionate doing ”Evangelism through Local Churches”. He is now appointed to serve as the Director of Training for OTAN (Outreach To Asia Nationals) from June 2009.
Chris is happily married to Dorothy, an IT software educator, and they have two daughters Alethea and Charis. Chris enjoys memorising poems on the Bible and football.
Jesus will be separated and meets his disciples only after his resurrection. So, Gethsemane is his last hour with them. His final lesson in the threatening shadows of this ‘night school’ is on– pain and prayer! He takes Peter, James and John, his inner trio, to the next level in Gethsemane. These are the ones, when Jesus shared about his suffering and their role in it, responded with ‘desires’/ambitions, which revealed their rash self-confidence (Mk.10:35-40; 14:29-31). Importantly, these will soon be the leaders of his new movement.
Distress: Break-point? Handle with care/prayer!
Jesus having come to the garden alone is being crushed/ ‘pressed by sorrow’ (v.38). It is the great sorrow of heart, his soul’s agony (dark night) that was crushing him. Besides here, Satan was giving him his final blow that last temptation to avoid by-pass the cross. It was as if his was saying, ‘have it your way!’ Moreover Jesus was painfully aware of what lay ahead of him – the cross! Not so much the cruelty of crucifixion as the challenge of carrying away the sins of the world as God’s Lamb and dealing with the curse that condemns humanity, as a human. Yet, the real battlefield may have been within himself.
Desire: To drink or not to drink?
Jesus invites the three to intercede with him and for him to ‘watch and prayer’ as he falls prostrate on the ground and in anguish sweats, Dr Luke records, ‘drops of blood’ (22:44). His focus in prayer is not Satan, sin or self but his ‘Father’; doing his will from the heart. His prayer request whether possible not to drink the cup = bitter ‘experience’ a metaphor of ‘punishment and suffering’ (Psa.75:8; Isa.51:17). Here, Jesus both reveals his perfect humanity and clarifies his commitment and full surrender to God’s redemptive plan.
Discipleship: following Jesus; doing ‘Father’s will’
Being a disciple/Christian has to do with suffering, daily taking up ones cross and taking everything to God in prayer. Peter, and tough all-night fishermen, didn’t have it within themselves to stay awake just for one hour. Their spirit was willing, but their flesh, weak! At least, initially, they listened to what Jesus prayed to his Father, it was what he taught them (Thy will be done). Their failure to follow Christ in his passion shows how ‘prayers of faith’ correlate to ‘power over the flesh’. There’s no way out so, let go and let God!
At his Gethsemane, Jesus demonstrated the victory of the ‘spirit over the flesh’ and who it’s all about. Although soon delivered into the hands of sinners, he is confident because he has already committed himself into God’s hand, in prayer. There are lessons we can learn from Gethsemane…
1. There is/will be a Gethsemane in all our lives
2. Our battles are first and often won in private
3. Prayer is not just preparation, it is the work
NB: When we try, we fail; when we trust, He succeeds!
Dr. Chris Gnanakan