AGONY IN GETHSEMANE: “MY SOUL IS EXCEEDING SORROWFUL EVEN UNTO DEATH” – Mark 14

And they come unto a place which was named Gethsemane: and he saith unto his disciples, Sit ye here, while I pray.

And he taketh with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly amazed, and sore troubled.

And he saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful even unto death: abide ye here, and watch.

And he went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass away from him.

And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; remove this cup from me: howbeit not what I will, but what thou wilt.

Mark 14:32‭-‬36 ASV

AGONY IN GETHSEMANE

The awful scene of the Saviour’s anguish was not viewed by all the Twelve, only Peter, James, and John being the witnesses.

Having already seen the transfiguration of Christ, their faith could withstand the shock of that tearful garden, but it might have proved too much for the others at that time; thus, the Lord chose three who would be able to see it and tell others of the sorrow that crushed the Lord that night.

Here God laid upon him the iniquity of US all; here it pleased God to bruise him; here the pressure upon him was so great that he would have died under the weight of it had not the angels come to strengthen and support him.

Jesus did not meet death with the joyful attitude of some of the martyrs, nor in the gay serenity of Socrates, but with overwhelming sorrow, convulsive grief, and with the sweat of blood.

Why?

(1) Satan was particularly active in the assault upon the Prince of Life (John 12:31), every demonic device in the arsenal of the evil one being employed against the Saviour.

(2) Perhaps even more important, there was the burden of human transgression that he bore. God made him to be sin upon our behalf (2 Corinthians 5:21). He bore our sins in his body on the tree (1 Peter 2:24).

(3) The Saviour’s supernatural knowledge of the fate evil men were bringing upon themselves was complete; and the knowledge that the chosen people, through their leaders, were bringing upon that beloved people the full wrath of Almighty God was a fact of inexpressible horror to Jesus who “had compassion” on the multitudes.

Martin Luther said, “No one ever feared death so much as this man!”

It was what Jesus knew of death and its cause and consequences that released that awful sorrow within his soul.

(4) Before Christ, death involved a separation from God, the most awful part of it for Jesus. In the case of the martyrs, such a separation was no longer a part of death; and as for Socrates, he had none of the knowledge that broke the Saviour’s heart that awful night.

The temporary triumph of Satan in the act of “bruising” the “Seed of Woman” was also a dreadful thing for Christ.

In the wilderness Jesus had met and overcome Satan; but now, Satan had returned with the full complement of his human servants and in his full majesty as the prince of this world. The bill was being presented!

In Gethsemane, the prospect of seeing Satan victorious (from the worldly point of view) was utterly repugnant to the Son of God.

Strong cryings with tears marked our Saviour’s human response to such a repulsive situation (Hebrews 5:7).

The problem of Jesus’ overwhelming grief and sorrow, humiliation, and repugnance was brought to the Father in prayer, with the agonizing request that “if possible” the hour might be taken away, “the hour” here being a reference to the approaching crucifixion, called also the “cup.”

If it were possible …

But are not all things possible with God? Yes! except that the human family had fallen into such a state that only God could redeem them, and that at awful cost to himself.

The complete answer to this question cannot be fully known by men; but in the Garden of Gethsemane, it was crystal clear that the death of Christ could not be avoided, short of abandoning the whole project of human salvation; and Christ even considered that (Matthew 26:53).

Of course, God could have removed the cup; but to have done so would have enthroned Satan as the Lord of man, and the destruction of all men would have resulted at once.

Reading the character of Satan in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, one is compelled to see the destruction of God’s human creation as a prime objective of Satan, reaching all the way back to Eden; and, if Christ’s redemptive death had been aborted, absolutely nothing would have stood in the way of Satan’s total achievement of his goal.

Howbeit not what I will, but what thou wilt …

At such overwhelming cost to himself, the Lord consented to the Father’s will, despite the agony within himself.

Here, in the garden, the human nature of our Lord was, for a time, in the ascendancy; and the final put-down of the flesh was achieved at the price of the agony detailed in the Gospels.



For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life.
John 3:16 ASV

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