Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States

Maundy Thursday's Sermon - The Garden and the Cup of Gethsemane

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  • Today's events are very rich and profound. It includes:
    1. The final message (prayer) of the Lord
    2. The prayer at Gethsemane
    3. Judas' Betrayal
    4. And the Round of Trials
  • Because of the intensity of the events of this eve, every hour (beginning from the 3rd hour) will have 4 Gospel readings, one from each evangelist. This will continue until Great Friday:
    • 1st hour: Christ prays for us
    • 3rd and 6th hour: Garden of Gethsemane (Subject of our discussion tonight)
    • 9th hour: Capture of Christ in the garden
    • 11th hour: The beginning of the trials
  • Note on the 1st hour reading:
    • We read 4 continuous chapters of the Gospel of St. John (14-17)
    • It is the longest continuous message recorded in the Gospels – longer than the Sermon on the Mount.
    • In this powerful passage, Christ highlights several relationships that are full of mystery and theology:
      • Our relationship with the Holy Spirit, the Father and the Son
      • The relationship between the 3 Persons of the Trinity
      • Our relationship with the world
    Because Christ tells us about the sending of the Holy Spirit from the Father in His name, we called these Chapters "The Chapters of the Paraclete".


  • Gethsemane literally means "oil press". It is a garden near the Mount of Olives.
  • It was not coincidence that Christ would choose to bring Salvation to Mankind in a garden crucified on a tree (cross).
  • Remember that Man fell from God and became alienated also in a garden because he ate from the forbidden tree.

Let's contemplate together on these 2 gardens and these 2 trees and finally contemplate on the "Cup" that Christ asked for it to pass.

Contrasting the 2 gardens:

In Eden Adam and Even were conversing with the ruler of darknessIn Gethsemane Christ was conversing with the Father of Lights
In Eden Adam and Eve sinnedIn Gethsemane Christ agonized over the suffering for that sin
In Eden Adam and Eve fell before SatanIn Gethsemane the soldiers fell before Christ
In Eden the race that was to come from Adam was lostIn Gethsemane Christ lost none of them which God had given him
In Eden Adam took the forbidden fruit from EveIn Gethsemane Christ willingly accepted the cup of suffering from the Father
In Eden Adam hid himself from the face GodIn Gethsemane Christ boldly showed Himself
In Eden the sword was drawn to block Adam from the Tree of LifeIn Gethsemane the sword was sheathed to open the way to the Tree of Life in Christ

Contrasting 2 Trees:

There were 2 trees mentioned in the book of Genesis:

  • The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (Precisely knowledge)
  • The Tree of Life
    • Side Note: It is appropriately called the "Tree of Knowledge"; for good is discerned in relation to evil. Now that man experienced evil he also realized that good exists. Evil became its absence.
  • Death entered into the world through the disobedience of Adam and Eve
  • The first tree brought death, and to overcome this death, a second tree symbolizing death (the cross) was used to bring life.
    • The First tree had its roots in the Garden of Eden
    • The Second tree had its roots in another garden ......Gethsemane

Interesting Paradox:

  • The Tree that brought death was rooted in the Garden of Delight.
  • The Tree that brought life is rooted in the garden of misery and suffering.
  • Christ had exchanged his holiness for our sin, His death for our life.
  • Sin and death were defeated on the second tree.

Analogy of Christ Holding Death:

  • Suppose "Death" to be a person..... Just pretend
  • I imagine that when Christ had died in the flesh..... "Death" is, as usual, coming to take hold of His soul and take Him to Hades (Remember Death had reigned on God's creation)
  • When Death is coming to lay hands on Christ, Christ held him instead and tells him you have nothing in me....
  • You came to hold me and here I am coming to hold you and destroy you.....
  • Note: We, rightfully so, pray and say that Christ has abolished Death by His death. Technically speaking death was abolished by the Resurrection and life.
  • However, for Christ to experience bodily resurrection, He must experience first bodily death.

    "You have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death....having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it" (Acts 2:24).

2 Reasons why Christ was able to conquer "Death"

  1. Christ is the Fountain of Life.... "In Him was Life" (John 1:4); ... "I am the Life" (John 11:25, 14:6)
  2. Christ is sinless..... Death is the result of sin.... Death, in turn, has nothing in Christ.
  • Just as the light conquers a dark place at once, likewise the True Light has conquered the darkness of Death.
  • We also can do the same thing to death.... Christ granted us the same power over death
  • But only if we unite ourselves with the Fountain of Life..... Eat it and drink (Eucharist) and most importantly LIVE IT

As we contemplate the events of this evening, let's conclude with the Cup of Gethsemane.

The Cup of Gethsemane

"Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done" (Luke 22:42).

  • The cup that caused such agonized prayer must have contained something very awful.
  • That cup filled Him with amazement. It caused Him to feel troubled.
  • It brought on His soul the most deadly sorrow.
  • What, then, did the cup contain?

The Cup Full of Physical Suffering

  • The cup, of course, was a symbol of the sufferings that awaited Christ on the Cross.
  • As we know Christ was truly God and He was truly man. He had a real flesh.
  • Except for sin, His body did not differ from ours. He hungered and felt thirst.
  • Part of the cup that Christ had to drink was the most excruciating physical anguish.
  • Physical affliction, however, was but a small portion of the cup that confronted Christ in Gethsemane.
  • The cup of Christ stood for anguish far more intense than physical pain.

The Cup Full of Emotional Suffering

  • Has your soul ever been aching with hostility? His more!
  • Has your soul ever been hurt with unjust reproaches? His more!
  • Has your soul ever been injured with mockery? His more!
  • Has your soul ever been sickened through the hatred of evil enemies? His more!
  • Has your soul ever wounded through the betrayal of a trusted friend? His more!
  • However, the wounds of His soul were only a portion of this cup.
  • There were far more intense sufferings of our Lord in Gethsemane; yes, infinitely more intense, than the physical and the emotional sufferings.

    Here we discover the reason for the sweat of blood.
    The prophet Isaiah described it clearly when he said: "The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:6).

The Cup Full of Sin

  • In that cup was the pollution and the weight of sin.
  • The sin of atheism, of Hedonism, of idolatry, of profanity, of disobedience, of murder, of adultery, of stealing, of hatred ..... They were all in that cup in Gethsemane.
  • Think about the weight of the whole world's sin.
  • Remember when you watch the news and you hear stories of murder, stealing, rape or abduction...etc.
    • How do you feel?
    • Keep in mind; these sins happen in some location, to some people, in some time...
    • Imagine all the sins of all the people in all the times...... How awful and heavy..
  • Christ drank the cup filled with the weight of sin by becoming "SIN" and "CURSE" for us.
    • "For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Corinthians 5:21).
    • "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us" (Galatians 3:13).


  • In Gethsemane, we realize the enormity and ugliness of sin.
  • In Gethsemane, we realize how our sins appear in the sight of our holy God.
  • In Gethsemane, we realize how great the love of God is for you and I.
  • Having realized this, let's live our lives no longer for ourselves, but for Him who died for us and rose again (2 Corinthians 5:15).

Glory Be to God Forever

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