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himself in the awful strife; when he would seem to the world, perhaps to angels, to sink forever; and when there was special need, that the Father should own him as his Son, and give evident signs, that he was indeed the beloved one of God. This prayer shows, as every thing in his previous history shows, that Jesus was fully conscious of his destination, and aware of the fearful measure of suffering which the Father had appointed for him. Yet, he is calm and collected, and unmoved in his purpose to submit. There is no complaint; no wish is betrayed that he might be spared; all he asks for is, that his honor should be maintained; and this he prays for only, that he might also honor the Father, by the successful accomplishment of his purpose
to save the fallen children of men: “Glorify thy Son, that thy Son may also glorify thee.”
When he had ended this prayer, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron, and entered the garden at the Mount of Olives, to which he was accustomed to resort, and where he knew that Judas Iscariot would soon come with his band to seek and betray him. Here a mysterious change came over him.
The night was far advanced, the world was wrapped in sleep, and a profound silence prevailed. The moon shed her pale light upon the scene, and nature appeared in her beauty, like one that is lovely but sad. The stillness invited to rest, after the exhausting activity of the day; but though the disciples slept, Jesus did not rest; his mind was the seat of oppressive thoughts, and of feelings that were unutterable ; and the surrounding scene was adapted only to increase his dejection. When he had entered into the garden he requested his disciples to sit there, while he went farther to pray. he took with him Peter, and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. And he went a little farther, and fell upon his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will,
death; a sorrow overpowering and insupportable, which, if not alleviated, must soon eventuate in death. His distress was manifest in his countenance, and in his whole demeanor: he began to be sore amazed and very heavy, as Mark expresses it: ήρξατο εκθαμβείσθαι και αδημονείν ; which Doddridge paraphrases : “ He began to be in very great and visible dejection, amazement and anguish of mind.”
In this deep distress he sought relief in prayer. For reasons which are not explained, he wished to be alone while he prayed, and therefore commanded the majority of his disciples to remain near the entrance of the garden, while he went onward a little way; but desirous, at the same time, to have some of them to be witnesses of his conflict, he took with him Peter, and James, and John, in obedience to the law of Moses, which provided that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every matter should be established.* The same favored three were sole witnesses of his transfiguration, and of the resuscitation of the daughter of Jairus. But from these three also, he presently withdrew for the purpose of prayer : he went a little farther, according to Luke, about a stone's cast ; near enough, therefore, to be seen and heard by them, yet alone. The other disciples, who were at a greater distance, were permitted to indulge in sleep ; at least, no other command is mentioned as given to them, than that they should sit there, while he went to another place to pray; but these three were directed to watch with him, and to pray for themselves. The reason assigned for this watching and praying was, that they might not fall into temptation. The injunction was given, therefore, not for his own sake, but for theirs; he chose to be solitary in his conflict, and to bear his burden alone; but if they had watched with him, while he was agonizing in his distress, they would have witnessed the greatness of his sorrow, and the filial manner in which he demeaned himself under its pressure ; and his great example would have fortified them against the temptation to which they so easily gave way, when they forsook him and fled, and when Peter even denied him before the servants of the high priest. The same reason would have been equally good for the watching and praying of all the disciples ; yet eight of the eleven were left at a distance, out of sight and perhaps, was, that Jesus expected less from them, than from these three, and did not think proper to lay upon them a command which he had no hope that they would obey.
His prayer was short, but fervent; full of feeling, but rational; characterized by a filial trust in his heavenly Father, and a perfect resignation to his will: “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.” Mark's account is : " He prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible to thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless, not what I will, but what thou wist.” According to Luke, his words were: “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done.” These are the different versions which the several Evangelists have given in Greek of the words spoken by the Lord, in the Syro-Chaldaic, or, as it is called in the New Testament and in Josephus, the Hebrew. That Jesus prayed in the Syro-Chaldaic appears from Mark, who gives us his first word-Abba-Father, and then proceeds with his own translation: “Father, all things are possible unto thee," etc. It is manifest from their diversities, that their translations are not literal, but free, and were designed only to convey the sense, and not the words of the prayer. Neither, perhaps, has recorded all that Jesus said ; but each has given, in his own way, what struck him most forcibly, and appeared to him to be the substance of the prayer. With regard to his posture in praying, Matthew says: “ He fell upon his face, and prayed;"' Mark: “ He fell on the ground and prayed ;" Luke: “ He kneeled down and prayed. The three say substantially the same thing: he kneeled, and, bending forward, rested his face upon his hands on the ground. This posture was indicative of the greatest earnestness, and of the deepest humiliation before God, and was assumed by the ancients only when they prayed in their greatest affliction.
When he rose up from prayer, and came to his disciples, he found them asleep: and waking them, he said to Peter : « What, could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and
Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation : the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” He was evidently affected by finding them asleep; for his words indicate both surprise and regret. The expostulation is addressed particularly to Peter, because he had, more than the others, professed a most ardent devotion to Jesus,
and had so recently declared his readiness to lay down his life for him; yet now, in his Master's utmost need, he fell asleep, though one hour had not yet passed since they had entered the garden, and had been exhorted to watch with him. Luke says, they slept for sorrow. They were exhausted with grief, which every thing they saw was adapted to deepen; and wearied nature sought repose in sleep. When the Lord waked them, he saw that they were conscious of the impropriety of their sleeping at such a time, and cordially willing to obey his injunction, but wanted the power to give effect to their good intentions. He was touched with their sincerity, and kindly made their apology for them: “The spirit, indeed, is willing, but the flesh is weak;" there was a willing mind to do what he desired, but the material frame, in its exhausted state, was unable to support their good purposes.
Having exhorted them again to watch and pray, he went away the second time and prayed, saying: “O my Father, if this cup may not pass away except I drink it, thy will be done.” Mark says: “ And again he went, and prayed, and spake the same words;" that is, the same in substance; for they were not exactly the same as before. His repetition of the same prayer, shows that he had yet obtained no relief; and his words, as they are given by Matthew, indicate that his hope, that the cup would be removed, had now grown fainter. In his first prayer, he expressed a hope that this might be done, as well as a doubt whether it could; for he says : If it be possible, let this cup pass from me." In his
prayer as given by Mark, this hope is founded upon the divine omnipotence: "Father, all things are possible to thee.” Inasmuch as all things are possible to God, he conceived that this also might be possible, though he did not see in what way it might be so. But in this second prayer he says: O my Father, if this cup may not pass away except I drink it, thy will be done.” This change in the terms of his prayer indicates, that, though he still entertained the same hope, it was passing away from him, and the prospect before him was growing darker.
Neither did this second prayer bring the relief he sought. He came again to his disciples, and found them relapsed into the sleep from which he had so lately roused them; " for,” says Mark, “their eyes were heavy; neither wist they what to
he said no more, but left them, and went away again the third time, and prayed, saying the same words. This passing to and fro, returning to his disciples, and going again to repeat the same prayer is evidence of the utmost anxiety and perturbation of mind. No relief was found for him in heaven, when he prayed; and no comfort was obtained from men, when he returned to the friends whom he loved. There was a hiding of the Father's face; the heavens seemed as brass, and his prayer appeared fruitless : the darkness thickened around him; and, as it grew, the perplexity and anguish of his soul increased. His third prayer was, therefore, like a conflict with despair. “And being in an agony, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” The Greek woè fpóupoi diuatos, may mean, not that his sweat was mingled with blood, but that it stood upon him, and fell to the ground, like blood, in large, clammy drops Whitby has shown, in his comments on the text, that both Aristotle and Diodorus Siculus have mentioned bloody Sweats, αίματώδη ιδρώτα, and guois idporos aipatoεidovs, as things not unknown; and he remarks, that he sees no reason why this might not be so great an agony, as to force blood from the capillary vessels to mix with the sweat. On the physiological question, involved in this inquiry, I am unable to say any thing; but taking the words of Luke in their lowest sense, the fact which they state is abundant evidence of extreme anguish of mind. The night was cold; for we find the servants and officers, soon afterwards, kindling a fire in the palace of the high priest to warm themselves. The distress must therefore have been terrible which could, in such a night, and in the open air, produce so copious a perspiration from the pores, that his sweat stood upon his face, and fell to the ground, in drops, like clotted blood. This was, indeed, an awful conflict, and tremendous must have been the temptation with which Jesus was assailed, and against which he was contending
It was, doubtless, here that an angel appeared to Jesus and strengthened him. Luke does not say that the disciples saw the angel, but that he appeared to Jesus. It seems, at first view, as if he meant that the angel appeared before the distress of Jesus had reached this extremity; for, having mentioned the angel's appearing to him and strengthening him, he adds : “ And being in an agony, he prayed more earnestly,” etc. But he cannot mean that Jesus fell into this
agony, and prayed