Going to Gethsemane, and Agony Therein.

7-20. GOING TO GETHSEMANE, AND AGONY THEREIN.
(A garden between the brook Kidron and the Mount of Olives. Late Thursday night.)
a MATT. 26:30, 36-46; b MARK 14:26, 32-42; c LUKE 22:39-46; d JOHN 18:1.

      d 1 When Jesus had spoken these words [the words contained in John 1:1 ],

  a 30 And when they had sung a hymn [the shadow of the cross did not quench the spirit of praise in Christ], they went out

  c 39 And he came out, and d he went forth with his disciples c as his custom was, d over the brook Kidron, a into {b unto} the mount of Olives. d where was a garden, into which he entered, himself and his disciples. {c and the disciples also followed him.}

  a 36 Then cometh Jesus with them

  b 32 And they come unto a place which was named {a called} Gethsemane [The name Gethsemane means a place of oil-presses, and hence it accords well with the name of the mountain at whose base it was situated. But the place was now a garden. It was about half a mile from the city, and from what Luke says here and elsewhere ( Luke 21:37 ), it seems that Jesus often resorted to it while in Jerusalem at the festivals. Compare also John 18:2 ],

  c 40 And when he was at the place, he said {a saith} unto his disciples, Sit ye here, while I pray. c Pray that ye enter not into temptation. [As the hour of trial and temptation came upon Jesus he fortified himself against it by prayer. And he bade his disciples do likewise, foresaw that they would not be able to withstand.]

  a 37 And he took {b taketh} with him Peter a and the two sons of Zebedee, b James and John, and began to be greatly amazed, a sorrowful and sore troubled. [While seeking heavenly aid in this hour of extremity, our Lord also manifested his desire for human sympathy. All the eleven apostles were with him in the garden, and the three most capable of sympathizing with him were stationed nearer to him than the rest.]

  c 41 And he was parted from them about a stone's cast [one hundred fifty to two hundred feet];

  b 34 And

  a 38 Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: b abide ye here, and watch. a with me. [The sequel shows that the phrase "even unto death" was no figure of rhetoric. The nervous prostration of Jesus was such as to endanger his life, and the watching of the apostles may have been doubly needful. Not only did he require their sympathy, but he may also have looked to them to render him assistance in the case of a physical collapse.]

  39 And he went forward a little, c and he kneeled down b and fell on the face, a and fell on his face, and prayed, b that, if it were possible, the hour might pass away from him. [This posture was expressive of the most intense supplication.]

  36 And he said, {a saying,} b Abba, a My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass away from me: b all things are possible unto thee; c if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: b howbeit a nevertheless, not as {b what} I will, a but as {b what} thou wilt. c not my will, but thine, be done. [Much of mystery is found in all life, so it is small wonder if the dual nature of Jesus presents insoluble problems. It perplexes many to find that the divine in Jesus did not sustain him better during his trial in the garden. But we must remember that it was appointed unto Jesus to die, and that the divine in him was not to interfere with this appointment, or the approaches to it. For want, therefore, of a better expression, we may say that from the time Jesus entered the garden ascendant; and "being found in fashion as a man," he endured these trials is if wholly human. His prayer, therefore, is the cry of his humanity for deliverance. The words "if it is possible" with which it opens breathe the same spirit of submissive obedience which is found in the closing words. Reminding the Father of the limitless range of his power, he petitions him to change his counsel as to the crucifixion of the Son, if his gracious purposes can be in any other way carried out. Jesus uses the words "cup" and "hour" interchangeably. They are both words of broad compass, intended to include all that he would undergo from that time until his resurrection. They embrace all his mental, moral, physical, and spiritual suffering which we can discover, together with an infinite volume of a propitiatory and vicarious nature which lies beyond the reach of our understanding. The submission of Jesus was no new fruitage of his character; the prayer of the garden had been the inner purpose of his entire life-- vi 1:1 John 5:30 and vi. 38 John 38 .]

  43 And there appeared unto him an angel from heaven, strengthening him.

  44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became as it were great drops of blood falling down upon the ground. [Commentators give instances of bloody sweat under abnormal pathological conditions.]

  45 And when he rose up from his prayer, he came {a cometh} unto the disciples, and findeth {c found} them sleeping for sorrow,

  46 and said unto them, Why sleep ye? rise and pray, that ye enter not into temptation. [The admonition which had at first been addressed to all the eleven is now spoken to the chosen three] a and saith unto Peter, b Simon, sleepest thou? couldest thou not watch one hour? a What, could ye not watch with me one hour?

  41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. [Peter, having boasted of his loyalty, has his weakness pointed out and is further warned to be on his guard, since the weakness of his nature will not stand the coming strain. The slumber caused by the prostration of grief. When we remember the excitement which they had endured that night, the tender words spoken by Jesus, the sadness of which was intensified by the atmosphere of mystery which pervaded them, the beautiful and touching prayer, and lastly this agony in the garden, it is not to be wondered at that the apostles, spurred by no sense of danger, should succumb to the long-borne tension and fall asleep. Had they comprehended how much the Lord needed their wakeful sympathy as he came again and again seeking for it, they would probably have kept awake.]

  b 39 And again a a second time he went away, and prayed, b saying the same words. a saying, My Father, if this cannot pass away, except I drink it, thy will be done. [Jesus here speaks of draining the cup. The "cup" was a common Hebrew figure used to denote one's divinely appointed lot or fortune-- Psalms 23:5 ; 75:8 ; Isaiah 51:17 ; 23:31-33 .]

  43 And he came again and found them sleeping, for their eyes were b very heavy; and they knew not what to answer him. [They were ashamed of the stupor which had come upon them and knew not what apology to make for it.]

  a 44 And he left them again, and went away, and prayed a third time, saying again the same words.

  b 41 And

  a 45 Then cometh he to the disciples, b the third time, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and that your rest: it is enough; a behold, the hour is at hand, {b the hour is come;} a and b behold, the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.

  42 Arise, let us be going: behold, he that betrayeth me is at hand. [Our Lord's words are paradoxical. In our judgment the saying is best understood by regarding the first part of it as spoken from the Lord's viewpoint, while the latter part is spoken from the disciple's viewpoint. It is as if he said, "So far as I am concerned, you may sleep on and take your rest, for the time to be of comfort or assistance to me has wholly passed. But so far as you yourselves are concerned, you must arise and be going, because Judas with his band of temple police is upon us."]