March 22, 2024

Going A Little Farther


Going A Little Farther

In athletics, the margin of excellence is often very small, in some instances amounting to a fraction of an inch or a second or two. In league play, the separation between teams is often just one point, and one point is all it takes to make the difference between the cup winner and the loser. In business and industry, the first place is often decided by a company going just a little farther in customer service, quality, mechanization, advertising, sales, or administration.

Today, we look at how Jesus went a little farther in the Garden of Gethsemane, not just by moving from one place to another, but in terms of (1) obedience, (2) suffering, and (3) loneliness.


Matthew 26:39 – Going a little farther, He fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”

In the Bible, the word "cup" sometimes refers to a time of great suffering. One time, James and John asked for special privileges in Jesus' coming kingdom, but Jesus asked them if they were willing to drink the cup that He was about to drink, meaning His coming suffering. Now, He is facing that suffering, and He would prefer to avoid all that He well knows is coming, but He falls on His face in prayer. In the Bible, face-down is a posture of humility and submission, for example when a subject comes before the king. And His prayer is one of submission and obedience:

Matthew 26:42 – Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.”

No prayer is so hard to offer as "Your will be done." Our own will becomes so dear to us. At the time, nothing else seems quite so reasonable. In our perversity, we try to bend God's will to our desires, thus becoming our own God, trusting our own will more than God's. We have our idea of what is best, and we fear that God's will is something that we'll dislike. We're not willing to accept it unless we know that it will be okay.

Isaiah 55:3 – Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live.

By the word "hear", God is intending us to listen to His Word with a firm purpose to obey His commands. Jesus set an example for us to follow, by renouncing His own will and accepting God's will. At the well in Samaria, Jesus told His disciples, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.” (John 4:34). Are we willing to take up His challenge to be obedient and finish His work?


Matthew 26:37-38 – He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death.”

Luke 22:43-44 – Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling to the ground.

Few other scenes in the gospel story have been the source of such strength and comfort to know that whatever suffering we go through, He's been through that and more. He went a little farther! Because of His love for us, Jesus was willing to suffer the pain and welts of scourging; the crown of thorns; the humiliation of mockery, scorn, and an unjust trial; nails in His hands and feet; the labour of breathing on the cross; and the torture of being betrayed, denied, and deserted. Lots of others have suffered more, but His was the worst -- bearing the burden of the entire world's sin. Despite all this, He prayed, "Your will be done." He knew that God's purpose for all this was that He would become the perfect sacrifice to pay the penalty of death for the sin of the world -- to save those who believe in Him from being separated from God for eternity.

2 Corinthians 5:21 – For our sake [God] made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.

2 Corinthians 5:19 – God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them.


Jesus had the same need for friendship and the reinforcement of companionship, yet it was necessary for Him to face the great struggle and suffering alone.

Matthew 26:39 – Jesus ... said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.”

This is a poignant expression of loneliness. In the agony of acceptance of God's will, He could take no one, not even His dearest friends. He went a little farther, all by Himself. And not much farther along, "all the disciples deserted him and fled." (Matthew 26:56)

Facing death is a terror to many people, because we must do it alone, and the process of passing is unknown. Jesus had an intimate relationship with His Father, but even that came to an end when God put all the sins of the world on Him.

Matthew 27:46 – And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ... “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

Because He took on death and defeated it, we do not have to fear death, because He has promised us that if we receive His risen Spirit, He is preparing a place for us, and He will receive us on the other side.

OUR RESPONSE – In what area of our life is Jesus asking us to go a little farther in response to His great love for us?

Obedience – We need to recognize that part of our commitment to Jesus is that He should be the Lord of our life and not just the Saviour. "If you love Me, keep My commandments." (John 14:15) Let's go just a little farther in obeying Him!

Prayer – Could we go a little farther in our prayer life? Romans 8:34 and Hebrews 7:25 tell us that Jesus is praying for us — probably because He knows that praying is so hard for us to do. It is the main means for us to establish an intimate relationship with God — the greatest antidote for loneliness.

Our walk with God – We need to go a little farther in developing the fruit of the Spirit in our lives: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23) God wants us to become more and more like Jesus so that the world will recognize Jesus in us.

Service – The closer we get to God, the more we want to serve Him. The church always needs volunteers for various jobs. In the community, there are needs to be filled, and we can represent Jesus there. Besides, all the people who are not yet Christians are out there. That's where we will find people to whom we can witness. Let's go a little farther in our service to God.

Bible commentators have debated, downplayed, exaggerated, and otherwise argued over the meaning of Jesus' words in this prayer. After asking Peter, James, and John to watch with Him, Jesus moves a bit away from them and falls on His face (Matthew 26:3638). This posture is used throughout the Bible, and history, by those taking the most humble and submissive position possible. In prayer, before God, this reflects a person making a request of great urgency. Jesus is also clearly exhausted at this moment. Other Gospels note the incredible stress He is experiencing (Mark 14:34; Luke 22:44).

The word cup is often used in Scripture to describe God's judgment or a time of great suffering. Jesus Himself asked James and John if they could "drink the cup" assigned to Him, meaning the suffering that He would soon endure (Matthew 20:22). Jesus knew He would soon experience God's judgment for the sins of humanity on the cross. He also knew He was nearing some strain, beyond human comprehension, of His communion with the Father (Matthew 27:46), for the first time in His eternal life.

1) A LITTLE FARTHER IN MY PRAYER LIFE –(Matthew 26:39) The first area that came to mind was prayer. Do we go far enough in our prayer life or could we go a little farther?  In Matthew 26, we find Jesus and his disciples in the garden of Gethsemane. The place our Lord went to with his disciples after the Lord’s supper and the place of his arrest. But notice what we find in vs 39, it says “…he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed,…”. Jesus went as far as he could go in his prayer life. You can find account after account in the Bible where Jesus spent time in prayer. Even when staring death in the face, he prayed! He prayed so hard that the Bible tells us in Luke 23:43&44, “And there appeared an angel unto him from Heaven, strengthening him. 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.”. We don’t know how long he spent in prayer, but I believe he prayed so hard because he was praying for me. I believe he was praying for you, so he went farther. The disciples couldn’t go as far as he had to go, so Jesus went a little farther. If he went that far in prayer, I believe I could go a little farther in my prayer life. I can go a little farther in:

  1. PRAYING FOR THE LOST – My loved ones, friends, co-workers, and strangers alike need prayer. I need to pray that they may “…open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in…” Jesus Christ (Acts 26:18)! Pray that they “…may know him, and the power of his resurrection…” (Philippians 3:10). We must go a little farther in our prayer for the lost so that God may give them just one more chance!
  2. PRAYING FOR THE BRETHREN – Paul wrote in his letter the church at Thessalonica,

“Brethren, pray for us.” (I Thessalonians 5:25). We are to pray for one another! To help with burdens, trials, and situations…to help bear those burdens because we love one another. I can go a little farther.

Ephesians 6:18 says “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.”. We are also told to “Pray without ceasing.” in I Thessalonians 5:17. Could you go a little farther in your prayer life?

  • A LITTLE FARTHER IN MY CHRISTIAN WALK – If I go a little farther in my prayer life, then I can go a little farther in my Christian walk. By that I mean I can become the Christian I need to be, that I want to be, and that God wants me to be. I can go a little farther in getting closer to Jesus. I want to be as close to Jesus as I can be for the closer to Jesus that I am, the more that the world sees Jesus in me! My life may be the only Bible that some people ever read. While thinking about this, I thought of our friend the Apostle John. As you know from the scriptures, John was part of the inner circle, the 3 closest disciples. But of those 3, John was the closest! That is why I find our text so amazing this morning; he knew the path that Jesus had to walk (Matthew 16:21) and John saw a lot of amazing things in his life:


  • A LITTLE FARTHER IN MY SERVICE – You may think that service and a Christian walk are the same, but they are different. For if I go a little farther in my Christian walk, then my service to the Lord goes farther. The closer I get to God, the more I want to serve him. I dare say that we all could go a little farther in our service to God. You see, God didn’t save us to leave us be or for us to sit idle. God wants us to serve him, not because we have to, but because we want to. Because we get to, because he loved us enough to die for us and the least we can do is serve him. What areas of service can I go a little farther in?
  1. CHURCH SERVICE – Let’s start with church service. Could you go a little farther in what you do for the Lord in this place? The truth is that the church is always in need of people. But I can’t or I don’t know how always arises…but your greatest ability is your availability. All you need to do is be willing to serve and the Lord will take care of the rest. The church always needs Sunday School teachers, children’s church, and nursery workers, VBS workers, groundskeepers, food cookers and servers, dishwashers and cleaners, choir members, offering takers, door greeters, and prayer warriors. Could you go a little farther in your service to the Lord and step into one of these roles?
  2. MY WITNESS – What about my witness? Could I go a little farther in my witness for the Lord? Notice what Jesus said to his disciples in Matthew 9:37-38, “…The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few; Pray ye, therefore, the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest.”. Here’s the kicker…If I live my life the way I should and close to God the way I want and need to, then my witness becomes evident. It all gets back to our life being the only Bible that some people read. Because the closer I get, the more the world will see Jesus in me, then the more they will want to know about him and what he has done in my life. That is why Jesus said “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick, and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before me, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”, Matthew 5:14-16. I can go a little farther in my witness, my loved ones' eternity just may depend on it!

What does it mean to “Go A Little Farther” In Our Faith?

  1. Pain is a normal part of the journey

14:34 …and He began to be troubled and deeply distressed. 34 Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch.”

  • Many Christians misunderstand pain as God’s absence
  • They will take their current situation as proof of God’s abandonment or worse, evidence that He doesn’t exist
  • However, pain is a natural pathway to perfection

1 Peter 5:10

But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.

  1. God’s will is always better than our desires

14:36 And He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.”

  • Allowing our natural wants to supersede God’s supernatural will
  • Jesus, in His humanity, didn’t want to suffer this death but He knew that God’s will was necessary and ultimately far better
  1. Going the distance is the only option

14:41 Then He came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? It is enough!

– Too many Christians give up one step short of God’s best – The road becomes too hard, too difficult, too painful

  1. Are you willing to go a little farther?

14:35 He went a little farther, and fell on the ground, and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him.

– What does it mean?

  1. Accepting our current state because we are promised future glory.
  2. Knowing that God is the ultimate source…we need him, period!
  3. Being willing to finish what He started