Matt. 26:36-56. November 20, 1910.


Gethsemane, the garden of sorrow and suffering! How feeble are the strivings of our finite minds to grasp the meaning of the scene before us! This shadowed hour in the ministry of Jesus holds mysteries as deep as the unfathomed ocean of His grace. And yet, in our quest of the knowledge of Him, we must see something of the truth of this Gethsemane experience, though it be as "through a glass, darkly" (1 Cor. 13:12).

1. The Sorrowing Savior (vs. 36-44). He who was rich is now tasting the bitterness of poverty beyond description (2 Cor. 8:9). The Son of God as the man of sorrows kneeling in a lonely spot in one small part of His own vast creation, in prayer to the Father, confesses agony of soul even unto death. A thrice repeated pleading prayer for the removal of a bitter cup, if according to His will, tells us how He shrank from something ahead. Is not this a strange confession for Omnipotence? We cannot think that He went unwillingly to the cross, for He Himself had foretold the voluntary sacrifice (John 10:17, 18). What, then, could there be in this cup from which he should shrink? (Matt. 20:22, 23.) The deity of Christ forbids our thinking He could draw back from the physical anguish of the cross. But His very deity compels us to say that there is one thing from which He above all others must shrink, and that because of His holiness. That one thing is sin and its power of obscuring the Father's face of love (Jer. 44:4; Prov. 6:16; Matt. 27:46). Jesus knew of the approach of that time when He "who knew no sin" was to be "made sin for us" (2 Cor. 5:21; Isa. 53:11). We know that He was fully aware of every throb of anguish that should rend His divinely sensitive being. Knowing all as He did, how marvelous was the love that drew Him on to such a sacrifice. Why did He sorrow thus? It was for us, that we might be able to sing with the blood-washed throng in the glad coming day when we sorrow no more and all tears shall be wiped away forever (Isa. 53:4).

2. Watchers Found Wanting (vs. 40-46). "What, could ye not watch with me one hour?" The failure of the disciples to watch with Jesus is explained in verse 41, "the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." Constant watching and unceasing prayer (1 Thess. 5:17) are necessities of the Christian life, because of the carnal nature. The "flesh" cannot be trusted for a moment. It is "enmity against God," "cannot please God" (Rom. 8:7, 8), and "receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God (1 Cor. 2:14). "Therefore, let us not sleep as do others; but let us watch and be sober" (1 Thess. 5:6). Christ does not ask us to watch alone, but with Him. With such loving companionship, how can we forget the burden of His heart for this lost world and sleep on with the careless indifference of those whom Satan has blinded? (1 Pet. 5:8; Matt. 24:42; 1 Pet. 4:7; 2 Cor. 4:4.)

3. One Betrayer, Many Deserters (vs. 47-56). Incarnate hate and hypocrisy meets incarnate love and tenderness. Judas, with a kiss of seeming friendship, delivers his Lord into the hands of His enemies. Jesus, with love as touching as it is genuine, calls him "friend," the word used here meaning "comrade." Yes, this is a true exhibition of the awful power of sin. He who had been a "comrade," sharing daily with the eleven the gracious words and loving deeds of the One, who for them spent nights in prayer on the lonely mountain side, now betrays that One to those who clamor for His blood.

The unresisting attitude of Jesus at this time proves His willingness to die for us. His last miracle of healing is wrought upon the wounded ear of a bitter foe. Such love passes understanding (Eph. 3:19).

"Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled." Where was Peter, confident Peter, who had vowed that he would never forsake his Master though all else proved untrue? There are many professed followers of Jesus in these evil days who through fear of the enemies of their Master selfishly flee. In the day when the storm clouds of criticism and persecution are gathering in a darkening sky, who will be found true to Him? Even now, the Word is assailed, the blood of Christ ignored, the imminent return of our Lord scoffingly denied. Thousands of nominal Christians are giving way before the advancing army of evil workers in whose midst the spirit of Judas still moves. Taking the whole armour of God, let us stand (Eph. 6:13), and stand fast for the gospel (Phil. 1:27), contending earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints, knowing that it is indeed the doctrine of Christ (2 John 9; 1 Cor. 15:58).