Jesus Goes to Gethsemane

After His prayer was ended, Jesus went with His John xviii. 1, 2. disciples over the brook Cedron to the garden of Geth- Matt. xxvi. 36. semane, where He would await the coining of Judas. Luke xxii. 39. This apostate, after leaving the supper room, had gone Mark xiv. 32. to the priests, and with them made arrangement for John xviii. 3. the immediate arrest of the Lord. Coming to the garden, Jesus takes with Him Peter and James and John, Matt. xxvi. 37-46. and retires with them to a secluded spot. Here He Mark xiv. 33-42. begins to be heavy with sorrow, and, leaving the three, Luke xxii. 40-46. goes alone to pray. Returning, He finds them asleep. Leaving them, He again prays, and in His agony sweats a bloody sweat, but is strengthened by an angel. Again returning to the three disciples, He finds them asleep. He goes a third time and prays, and returning, bids them sleep on, but soon announces the approach of Judas.

The hour when Jesus left the supper room to go to Gethsemane, cannot be exactly determined. Lichtenstein (411) puts it at midnight; first, because usually at this hour the supper was ended ; second, because if He had left earlier, there would have been too great delay at Gethsemane. Greswell puts it between eleven and twelve o'clock; Morrison at nine or ten; Fairbairn at eight or nine ; Jarvis at eight. Supposing the paschal supper to have commenced about 6 P. M., or sundown, the several incidents of the feast, and the Lord's discourse and prayer, must have occupied them till near midnight. The only datum of time bearing on it is the crowing of the cock (Mark xiv. 68 and 72,) and this gives no definite result. Of the situation of the house where the supper was eaten, we know nothing. Greswell supposes it to have been in the eastern part of the city ; and, wherever it was, it could not have been very far distant from the garden.1 We cannot be far wrong if we suppose the Lord to have reached Gethsemane about midnight.

The garden of Gethsemane, "valley of oil," or "oil press," to wThich the Lord went, was a place He was accustomed to visit, (John xviii. 2,) and a little way out of the city. It seems to have been an olive orchard, and not connected with any private residence. If, however, this was a private garden, still, as at the feasts all the houses and gardens were thrown open to the public, Jesus could visit it at this time without hindrance, or attracting to Himself any special attention. Greswell hints that the family of Lazarus might have had possessions there. From a comparison of Luke xxi. 37 with xxii. 39, it appears that the Lord had spent some part of the previous nights there, perhaps alone in prayer.

Whether the site of the modern Gethsemane is to be identified with the ancient garden, is doubtful. It is first mentioned by Eusebius as at the Mount of Olives, and afterward more definitely by Jerome as at the foot of the Mount.2 Several of the most recent inquirers are disposed to deny the identification. Thomson (ii. 483) says : " The position is too near the city, and so close to what must have always been the great thoroughfare eastward, that our Lord would scarcely have selected it for retirement on that dangerous and dismal night." He finds a better site several hundred yards to the northeast, on the Mount of Olives. Barclay (63) thinks it evident that the present enclosure, from its narrow dimensions, can occupy only in part the site of the ancient garden, and finds a better position higher up in the valley.

1 As to the traditional site of the " Upper Room," now shown in the pile of buildings surrounding the tomb of David, see Williams, H. C, ii. 507.

2 Robinson, i. 235.

Stanley (415) is undecided. But whether the present garden occupies precisely .the old site or not, it is certain that it must be near it. It lies a little east of the valley of Cedron, at the intersection of two paths, both leading in different directions over the Mount of Olives. Descending from St. Stephen's gate into the valley, and crossing a bridge, it is easily reached, being distant but nine or ten rods from the bridge. Formerly it was unenclosed, but recently the Latins have built a high wall around it. There are within eight venerable olive trees, undoubtedly of great age, their trunks much decayed, but branches flourishing. " The most venerable of their race on the face of the earth," says Stanley, " their gnarled trunks and scanty foliage will always be regarded as the most affecting of the sacred memorials in or about Jerusalem." The Greeks, envious of the Latins, have recently enclosed a piece of ground a little north, beside the Virgin's tomb, and contend that this is the true garden.1

The words of Jesus at the paschal supper, (John xiii. 27,) "That thou doest, do quickly," forced Judas to do at once what he had apparently not designed to do till the feast was over. Perhaps he feared that ii the arrest was was not made the same night, Jesus would next day leave the city. Of the movements of Judas after he left the supper, none ol the Evangelists give us an account till he reappears at the garden of Gethsemane ; but we can readily picture them to ourselves in their outline. Going immediately to Caiaphas, or to some other leading member of the Sanhedrim, he informs him where Jesus is, and announces that he is ready to fulfil his compact, and at once to make the arrest. It was not, as we have seen, the intention to arrest Him during the feast, lest there should be a popular tumult^ (Matt. xxvi. 5 ;) but now that an opportunity offered of seizing Him secretly at dead of night, when all were asleep or engaged at the paschal meal, and therefore without danger of interference or uproar, His enemies could not hesitate.

i Porter, I. 177

Once in their hands, the rest was easy. A hasty trial, a prejudged condemnation, an immediate execution, and the hated Prophet of Galilee was forever removed out of their way. All perhaps might be done by the hour of morning prayer and sacrifice.1 With great despatch all the necessary arrangements are made. Some soldiers the Sanhedrim had under its own direction, the guards of the temple, commanded by " the captains of the temple," or, as translated by Campbell, " officers of the temple guard," (Luke xxii. 52;) and to these they added some of their own servants, armed with staves. But they must be attended by Koman soldiers, in case a disturbance should arise ; and to this end Pilate was persuaded to place at their command the cohort, or a part of it, under its captain, x^tap^o?, that during the feast was stationed at Fort Antonia for the preservation of order.2 Some of the chief priests and elders were also themselves to be present, to direct the proceedings, and if necessary to control the people.3 The soldiers, or some portion of them, were to be provided with lanterns and torches, probably to search the garden if any attempt were made to escape. That at this time the moon was at the full presents no objection. " They would," says Haekett, (140,) " need lanterns and torches, even in a clear night and under a brilliant moon, because the western side of Olivet abounds in deserted tombs and caves." It is possible that they thought to surprise Him asleep. It was agreed that Judas should precede the others, and, approaching Him in a friendly way, kiss Him, and thus make Him known. This indicates that no resistance was anticipated.

1 Lichtenstein, 414. a John xviii. 3 and 12. See Meyer in loco.

* Luke xxii. 52. Lichtenstein, 415.

Of the events at Gethsemane prior to the arrival of Judas, John says nothing. Luke is brief, and, omitting the choice of the three apostles to accompany Jesus, mentions but one prayer. On the other hand, he alone mentions the bloody sweat and the presence of the angel, (xxii. 40-46.) In Matthew and Mark we find the fullest details.

Whether all the apostles entered the garden does not appear; but if so, all, except Peter, James, and John, remained near the entrance. How long time He was with the three in the recesses of the garden, can but be conjectured, for the words given by Matthew, xxvi. 40, " "What, could ye not watch with me one hour ? " do not imply, as said by Greswell, that this was the time actually occupied in His prayer, but are a proverbial expression, denoting a brief interval. Some place the visit of the angel between the first and second prayer, to strengthen Him for that more terrible struggle when He sweat drops of blood.1 Others make the agony and bloody sweat to have taken place before the appearance of the angel, and its cause, although narrated after it. That the grief and heaviness were greatest during the first prayer, may be inferred from Matthew and Mark. The language of Luke does not permit ns to think of sweat falling in large, heavy drops like blood, but of sweat mingled with blood.2

The Lord's words to the three apostles, after His last return to them, (Matt. xxvi. 45 ; so Mark,) " Sleep on now, and take your rest," are understood by some as giving them permission and opportunity to sleep, and thus refresh themselves to meet the coming peril. "

The obvious objection to this explanation is that in the same breath He tells them to awake; but even this is not unnatural, if taken as a sort of after thought, suggested by the sight or sound of the approaching enemy." l Others understand them as ironically spoken.2 Others still, as interrogatively: "Sleep ye on still, and take ye your rest ? " 3 The first explanation is to be preferred. " The former words," says Ellicott, " were rather in the accents of a pensive contemplation— the latter in the tones of exhortation and command." It was the sudden appearance of Judas and his band that caused the words, "Rise, let us be going; behold, he is at hand that doth betray me," and explain their apparent abruptness.4 Hackett (254) connects them with the local position of the garden, from which Jesus could survey at a glance the entire length of the eastern wall, and the slope of the hill toward the valley. " It is not improbable that His watchful eyes at that moment caught sight of Judas and his accomplices, as they issued from one of the eastern gates, or turned round the northern or southern corner of the walls, in order to descend into the valley."

1 Alexander. See Lichtenstein, 414. 2 Calvin, Campbell, Meyer.

3 Greswell, hi. 194; Robinson, Har. 151. The former would refer Luke xxii. 45, not to the three disciples, but to the eight whom He found also asleep near the entrance of the garden. There seems no basis for this.

4 See Mark xiv. 41. " It is enough;" i. e., " Ye have slept enough."