Luke 22:39

As we enter "the place which is called Gethsemane," we pass into the "holy place," the nearest of all to "the holy of holies" - that is, to Calvary itself. Thither our Lord went on this most memorable evening; and "his disciples followed him" - the eleven who remained faithful to him. But even of these only three were counted worthy to attend him into the secret place of prayer and struggle, and to witness his agony. Such sorrow as he was then to know seeks the secret place and chooses only the very closest and dearest friendship for its ministry. Then fell upon our Divine Lord a sorrow and a temptation; an agitation and agony of soul for which our language has no name, our heart no room, our life no experience. We ask - What was that intolerable and overwhelming anguish, which the Savior asked might pass from him, and which had so marvellous and so terribly significant an effect on his bodily nature (vers. 42-44)? Our completest answer leaves much to be said, much to be explained.

1. We barely touch the outer line of the whole circle of truth when we speak of the apprehension of coming torture and death as events in the natural, physical sphere. It is an irreverent and wholly unworthy conception that what many men - many who have not even been good men - have faced without flinching, our Lord and Master shrank from with an overmastering dread.

2. We come nearer to the center of the truth when we think that the whole shadow of the cross, with its spiritual darkness and desolation, then began to rest upon him... Something of that shadow had been darkening his path before (Mark 10:38; Luke 12:50; John 12:27). And this shadow darkened and deepened as he drew near to the dread hour itself. At this point the cross immediately confronted him in all its awful severity, and he knew that this was the time when he must finally resolve to endure everything or to retrace his steps. This, then, was the critical hour; then was "the crisis of the world." Great and terrible was the temptation to decline the fearful future now at hand; it was a temptation he struggled against with a spiritual violence that showed itself in the drops of blood; it was a temptation he only overcame by tearful supplications to the Eternal Father for his prevailing succor (Hebrews 5:7).

3. But we miss our true mark if we do not include the thought that he was then bearing something of the burden of human sin. Whatever was intended by "bearing our sins in his own body," by "making his soul an offering for sin," and by expressions similar to these, we believe that Jesus Christ was then in the very act of fulfilling these predictions when he thus strove and suffered in the garden. As we look upon him there we see "the Lamb of God taking away the sin of the world." The scene may teach us very varied lessons and affect us in many ways; but it is certainly well fitted to be -


II. AN INVITATION TO PRAYER FOR FAITHFULNESS IN THE HOUR OF TRIAL. Both before and after, the Master exhorted his disciples to pray that "they entered not into temptation" (vers. 40, 46). He himself triumphed through the strong efficacy of prayer (ver. 41). Prayer, appropriate at all times, is urgently needed as we enter the shadow of temptation; but it is positively indispensable when the greater trials of our life assail us.

III. A SUMMONS TO STRENUOUS AND UNFALTERING PERSEVERANCE. Christian pilgrim, Christian workman, do you weary of your way or of your work? Does the one seem long and thorny, or the other tedious and unsuccessful? Do you think you must sleep as the disciples did, or that you must put down the cup as their Master did not? Do you talk about giving up the journey, about retiring from the field? Consider him who went quite through the work the Father game him to do, who strove and suffered to the very last; consider him, the agonizing but undaunted, the suffering but resolving Savior; consider him, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.

"Go, labor on, spend and be spent,
Thy joy to do the Father's will;
It is the way the Master went,
Should not the servant tread it still?" = - c.

The mount of Olives.
The mountains are Nature's monuments. Like the islands that dwell apart, and like them that give asylum from a noisy and irreverent world. Many a meditative spirit has found in their silence leisure for the longest thought, and in their Patmos-like seclusion the brightest visions and largest projects have evolved; whilst by a sort of overmastering attraction they have usually drawn to themselves the most memorable incidents which variegate our human history. And, as they are the natural haunts of the highest spirits, and the appropriate scenes of the most signal occurrences, so they are the noblest cenotaphs.

I. OLIVET REMINDS US OF THE SAVIOUR'S PITY FOR SUCH AS PERISH (see Luke 19:37-44). That tear fell from an eye which had looked into eternity, and knew the worth of souls.


III. The Mount of Olives is identified with the supplications and intercessions of Immanuel, and so suggests to us the Lord Jesus as THE GREAT EXAMPLE IN PRAYER.

1. Submission in prayer. In praying for His people, the Mediator's prayer was absolute: "Father, I will." But in praying for Himself, how altered was the language! "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt."

2. Perseverance in prayer. The evangelist tells that there was one prayer which Jesus offered three times, and from the Epistle to the Hebrews 5:7, we find that this prayer prevailed.

3. The best preparation for trial is habitual prayer. Long before it became the scene of His agony, Gethsemane had been the Saviour's oratory. "He ofttimes resorted thither."

IV. The Mount of Olives recalls to us THE SAVIOUR'S AFFECTION FOR HIS OWN. I fear that the love of Christ is little credited even by those who have some faith in His finished work, and some attachment to His living person.

(James Hamilton.)

Being in an agony
Jesus commenced His sacred Passion in the garden for these reasons:


1. It was His custom, after He had preached and wrought miracles, to retire and betake Himself to prayer.

2. It should be our custom, too, to recollect ourselves in prayer, especially when the day's work is over.


1. Charity towards the master of the house, who, having left the supper-room at His disposal, should not be molested by the seizure of Jesus.

2. Love and obedience to His heavenly Father.

III. IN ORDER TO FULFIL THE TYPE OF DAVID. When Absalom had revolted against his father, David and the people went over the brook Kedron, and they all wept with a loud voice. Christ went over the same brook now, accompanied by His faithful friends.


(J. Marchant.)

Now let us look at this scene of pain and agony in the lifo of Christ, and see what lessons it supplies to us. And I remark —

I. IT WAS SOLITARY SUFFERING. "He was removed from them." He was alone. How weird and sombre the word! How it throbs with painful life I And does not your experience substantiate the same thing? What a recital you could give of pain, and sorrow, and heartache, and stern conflict you have borne and sustained in solitude into which your dearest earthly friend must not enter. But I remark further that this scene in the life of Jesus was one of —

II. INTENSE SUFFERING. It is an hour of supreme agony! The betrayer is at hand, the judgment hall, the mockery, the ribald jeers of the populace, the desertion of His friends, the false charges of His enemies, the shame and pain of the cross are just before Him. The bitterness of death is upon Him.

III. EARNEST PRAYER. "He prayed the more earnestly." What! Christ pray? Did He need the help of this provision of the Infinite Father to meet the exigencies of sinful dependent man? Yes, the Man Jesus needed to exercise this gift. It was the human Christ that was suffering. Prayer is an arrangement in the economy of infinite wisdom and goodness to meet the daily needs of Human lives. But see again, in this time of great suffering there is —

IV. DEVOUT SUBMISSION TO THE DIVINE WILL. "Nevertheless not My will, but Thine, be done." Christ hero reveals a force and beauty of character of the highest and most perfect kind. When a man can be thus brought to put himself into harmony with the Divine plan and purpose, so as to say in true submission and surrender, "Thy will be done," he gets to the very heart of the saint's "higher life" on earth; this is about as fall a "sanctification" as can be attained this side heaven. This is one of the grandest, the greatest, and hardest, yet the sweetest and most restful prayers I know. "Thy will be done." This prayer touches all things in human life and history from centre to circumference, nothing is left outside its sweep and compass. It is the life of heaven lived on earth — the soul entering into deep and abiding sympathy with the character and will of God, and going out in harmony with the Divine plan to "do and suffer" all His righteous will. What are some of the lessons suggested by this suffering scene in the life of Christ?

1. Every true man has his Gethsemane. It may be an "olive garden," where is everything to minister to the senses, and meet the utmost cravings of the human heart so far as outer things are concerned. Or, it may be out on the bleak unsheltered moor, where the cutting winds and blinding storm of sickness and poverty chill to the very core of his nature: or in any of the intermediate states of life, but come it does.

2. To pass through Gethsemane is a Divine arrangement, a part of God's plan for perfecting human lives. Christ was there not merely because it was His "wont" or habit, but as part of a Divine plan. He was drawn thither by unseen forces, and for a set or definite purpose. It was just as much the will of God as was any other act or scene of His life.

3. To pray for the cup to pass from us should always be subject to Christ's condition, "If it be Thy will."

4. God ever answers true prayer, but not always in the way we ask. Of this we may be sure, that He will either lift us from the Gethsemane of suffering, or strengthen us to bear the trial

5. In great suffering, submission to the Divine will gains strength for the greater trial beyond.

6. I learn, finally, this grand lesson, that I would by no means miss — that in all, above, and beyond, and through all, the Lord God reigns.

(J. T. Higgins.)

I. Upon the very threshold of our lesson lies the weighty truth: WOE'S BITTEREST CUP SHOULD BE TAKEN WHEN IT IS THE MEANS OF HIGHEST USEFULNESS. Wasted suffering is the climax of tragedy. Many broken hearts would have lived could it have been clear that the crushing woe was not fruitless. Unspeakable the boon if earth's army of sufferers could rest on the knowledge that their pain was service.


III. OUR LORD'S CRUCIAL OBEDIENCE IN THE GARDEN AGONY REFLECTS THE MAJESTY OF THE HUMAN WILL AND ITS POSSIBLE MASTERY OF EVERY TRIAL IN PERFECT OBEDIENCE TO THE DIVINE WILL. However superhuman Jesus' suffering, He was thoroughly human in it. He had all our faculties, and used them as we may use ours. It is no small encouragement that the typical Man gives us an example of perfect obedience, at a cost unknown before or since. In the mutual relations of the human and Divine wills all merit is achieved and all character constructed.




VII. OUR LESSON GIVES TERRIBLE EMPHASIS TO THE FACT AND SERIOUSNESS OF IMPOSSIBILITIES WITH GOD. Our Lord's agonized words, " If it be possible," establish the rigidity and absoluteness of governmental and spiritual conditions. God's will and plans are objective realities; they have definite and all-important direction and demands.

(S. L. B. Speare.)

Awful in its bliss, more awful yet is the will in its decay. Awful power it is, to be able for ourselves to choose God; terrible to be able to refuse Him. We have felt, many of us, the strangeness of the power of will in children; how neither present strength, nor persuasion, nor love, nor hope, nor pain, nor punishment, nor dread of worse, nor weight of authority, can, for a time, bend the determined will of a little child. We are amazed to see a power so strong in a form so slight and a mind so childish. Yet they are faint pictures of ourselves whenever we have sinned wilfully. We marvel at their resisting our wisdom, knowledge, strength, counsel, authority, persuasiveness. What is every sinful sin but a resistance of the wisdom, power, counsel, majesty, eloquent pleadings of Almighty God in the sinner's soul? What is it, but for the soul which He hath made, to will to thwart His counsel who hath made it, to mar His work, to accuse His wisdom of foolishness, His love of want of tenderness, to withdraw itself from the dominion of God, to be another god to itself, a separate principle of wisdom and source of happiness and providence to itself, to order things in its own way, setting before itself and working out its own ends, making self-love, self-exaltation, self-gratification, its object, as though it were, at its will, to shape its own lot as much as if there were no God. Yea, and at last, it must will that there be no God. And in its worst decay, it accomplishes what it wills, and (awful as it is to say) blots God out of its creation, disbelieving that He is, or will do as He has said, or that He will avenge. Whoever wills that God wills not, so far dethrones God, and sets up his own will to dispute the almightiness and wisdom of the eternal God. He is a Deicide. It matters not wherein the self-will is exerted, in the very least things or the greatest. Antichrist will be but the full unhindered growth of self-will. Such was the deep disease of self-will, to cure which our good Lord came, in our nature, to fulfil the leather's will, to will to suffer what the Father willed, to "empty Himself and become obedient unto death, and that the death of the Cross." And since pride was the chief source of disease in our corrupted wills, to heal this, the eternal Son of God came as now from His everlasting glory, and, as a little Child, fulfilled His Father's will. And when He entered on His ministry, the will of His Father was the full contentment, refreshment, stay, reward, of His soul, as Man. And then, whereas the will of God is done either by us, in active obedience, or on us and in us by passive obedience or resignation in suffering, to suffer the will of God is the surest, deepest, safest, way to learn to do it. For it has least of self. It needeth only to be still, and it reposeth at once in the loving will of God. If we have crippled ourselves, and cannot do great things, we can, at least, meekly bear chastening, hush our souls and be still. Yet since, in trials of this soul, the soul is often perplexed by its very suffering, it may be for your rest, when ye shall be called to God's loving discipline of suffering, to have such simple rules as these.

1. It is not against the will of God even strongly to will if it should be His will, what yet may prove not to be His will. Entire submission to the will of God requireth absolutely these two things. Wholly will whatsoever thou knowest God to will; wholly reject whatsoever thou knowest God willeth not. Beyond these two, while the will of God is as yet not clear unto thee, thou art free. We must indeed, in all our prayers, have written, at least in our hearts, those words spoken by. our dear Lord for us, "Not as I will, but as Thou." We shall, in whatever degree God hath conformed our will to His, hold our will in suspense, even while yet uncertain, ready to follow the balance of His gracious will even while we tremblingly watch its motions, and our dearest earthly hopes, laid therein, seem ready gradually to sink, for the rest of this life, in dust (2 Samuel 16:10). And so thou, too, whatever it be which thou willest, the health and life of those thou lovest as thine own soul, the turning aside of any threatened scourge of God, the healing of thine aching heart, the cleansing away of harassing thoughts or doubts entailed upon thee by former sin, or coldness, or dryness, or distraction in prayer, or deadness of soul, or absence of spiritual consolation, thou mayest without fear ask it of God with thy whole heart, and will it wholly and earnestly, so that thou will therein the glory of God, and, though with sinking heart, welcome the will of God, when thou knowest assuredly what that will is.

2. Nor again is it against the will of God that thou art bowed down and grieved by what is the will of God. And even when the heaviness is for our own private griefs, yet, if it be patient, it, too, is according to the will of God. For God hath made us such as to suffer. He willeth that suffering be the healthful chastisement of our sins.

3. Then, whatever thy grief or trouble be, take every drop in thy cup from the hand of Almighty God. Thou knowest well that all comes from God, ordered or overruled by Him. How was the cup of thy Lord filled, which He drank for thee?

4. Again, no trouble is too small, wherein to see the will of God for thee. Great troubles come but seldom. Daily fretting trials, that is, what of thyself would fret thee, may often, in God's hands, conform thee more to His gracious will. They are the dally touches, whereby He traces on thee the likeness of His Divine will. There is nothing too slight wherein to practise oneness with the will of God. Love or hate are the strength of will; love, of the will of God; hate, of the will of devils. A weak love is a weak will; a strong love is a strong will. Self-will is the antagonist of the will of God; for thou weft formed for God. If thou wert made for thyself, be self thy centre; if for God, repose thyself in the will of God. So shalt thou lose thy self-will, to find thy better will in God, and thy self-love shall be absorbed in the love of God. Yea, thou shalt love thyself, because God hath loved thee; take care for thyself, because thou art not thine own, but God careth for thee; will thine own good, because and as God willeth it. "Father, nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou." So hath our Lord sanctified all the natural shrinkings of our lower will. He vouchsafed to allow the natural will of His sacred Manhood to be "amazed and very heavy" at the mysterious sufferings of the cross, to hallow the "mute shrinking" of ours, and guide us on to His all-holy submission of His will.

(E. B. Pusey, D. D.)

1. The prayer of Christ. In a praying posture He will be found when the enemy comes; He will be taken upon His knees. He was pleading hard with God in prayer, for strength to carry Him through this heavy trial, when they came to take Him. And this prayer was a very remarkable prayer, both for the solitariness of it, "He withdrew about a stone's cast" (verse 41) from His dearest intimates — no ear but His Father's shall hear what He had now to say — and for the vehemency and importunity of it; these were those strong cries that He poured out to God in the days of His flesh (Hebrews 5:7). And for the humility expressed in it: He fell upon the ground, He rolled Himself as it were in dust, at His Father's feet.

2. This Scripture gives you also an account of the agony of Christ, as well as of His prayer, and that a most strange one; such as in all respects never was known before in nature.

3. You have here His relief in this His agony, and that by an angel dispatched post from heaven to comfort Him. The Lord of angels now needed the comfort of an angel.It was time to have a little refreshment, when His face and body too stood as full of drops of blood as the drops of dew are upon the grass.

1. Did Christ pour out His soul to God so ardently in the garden, when the hour of His trouble was at hand? Hence we infer that prayer is a singular preparative for, and relief under, the greatest troubles.

2. Did Christ withdraw from the disciples to seek God by prayer? Thence it follows that the company of the best men is not always seasonable. The society of men is beautiful in its season, and no better than a burden out of season. I have read of a good man, that when his stated time for closet-prayer was come, he would say to the company that were with him, whatever they were, "Friends, I must beg your excuse for a while, there is a Friend waits to speak with me." The company of a good man is good, but it ceases to be so, when it hinders the enjoyment of better company. One hour with God is to be preferred to a thousand days' enjoyment of the best men on earth.

3. Did Christ go to God thrice upon the same account? Thence learn that Christians should not be discouraged, though they have sought God once and again, and no answer of Peace comes. If God deny you in the things you ask, He deals no otherwise with you than He did with Christ.

4. Was Christ so earnest in prayer that He prayed Himself into a very agony? Let the people of God blush to think how unlike their spirits are to Christ, as to their prayer-frames. Oh, what lively, sensible, quick, deep, and tender apprehensions and sense of those things about which He prayed, had Christ! Though He saw His very blood starting out from His hands, and His clothes dyed in it, yet being in an agony, He prayed the more earnestly. I do not say Christ is imitable in this; no, but His fervour in prayer is a pattern for us, and serves severely to rebuke the laziness, dulness, torpor, formality, and stupidity that is in our prayers. Oh, how unlike Christ are we! His prayers were pleading prayers, full of mighty arguments and fervent affections. Oh, that His people were in this more like Him!

5. Was Christ in such an agony before any hand of man was upon Him merely from the apprehensions of the wrath of God with which He now contested? Then surely it is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God, for our God is a consuming fire.

6. Did Christ meet death with such a heavy heart? Let the hearts of Christians be the lighter for this when they come to die. The bitterness of death was all squeezed into Christ's cup. He was made to drink up the very dregs of it, that so our death might be the sweeter to us.

(J. Flavel.)

I. Meditating upon the agonizing scene in Gethsemane we are compelled to observe that our Saviour there endured a grief unknown to any previous period of His life, and therefore we will commence our discourse by raising the question, WHAT WAS THE CAUSE OF THE PECULIAR GRIEF OF GETHSEMANE? Do you suppose it was the fear of coming scorn or the dread of crucifixion? was it terror at the thought of death? Is not such a supposition impossible? It does not make even such poor cowards as we are sweat great drops of blood, why then should it work such terror in Him? Read the stories of the martyrs, and you will frequently find them exultant in the near approach of the most cruel sufferings. The joy of the Lord has given such strength to them, that no coward thought has alarmed them for a single moment, but they have gone to the stake, or to the block, with psalms of victory upon their lips. Our master must not be thought of as inferior to His boldest servants, it cannot be that He should tremble where they were brave. I cannot conceive that the pangs of Gethsemane were occasioned by any extraordinary attack from Satan. It is possible that Satan was there, and that his presence may have darkened the shade, but he was not the most prominent cause of that hour of darkness. Thus much is quite clear, that our Lord at the commencement of His ministry engaged in a very severe duel with the prince of darkness, and yet we do not read concerning that temptation in the wilderness a single syllable as to His soul's being exceeding sorrowful, neither do we find that He "was sore amazed and was very heavy," nor is there a solitary hint at anything approaching to bloody sweat. When the Lord of angels condescended to stand foot to foot with the prince of the power of the air, he had no such dread of him as to utter strong cries and tears and fall prostrate on the ground with threefold appeals to the Great Father. What is it then, think you, that so peculiarly marks off Gethsemane and the griefs thereof? We believe that now the Father put Him to grief for us. It was now that our Lord had to take a certain cup from the Father's hand. This removes all doubt as to what it was, for we read, "It pleased the Lord to bruise Him, He hath put Him to grief: when thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin." "The Lord hath made to meet on Him the iniquity of us all." Yet would I exhort you to consider these griefs awhile, that you may love the Sufferer. He now realized, perhaps for the first time, what it was to be a sin bearer. It was the shadow of the coming tempest, it was the prelude of the dread desertion which He had to endure, when He stood where we ought to have stood, and paid to His Father's justice the debt which was due from us; it was this which laid Him low. To be treated as a sinner, to be smitten as a sinner, though in Him was no sin — this it was which caused Him the agony of which our text speaks.

II. Having thus spoken of the cause of His peculiar grief, I think we shall be able to support our view of the matter, while we lead you to consider, WHAT WAS THE CHARACTER OF THE GRIEF ITSELF? Trouble of spirit is worse than pain of body; pain may bring trouble and be the incidental cause of sorrow, but if the mind is perfectly untroubled, how well a man can bear .pain, and when the soul is exhilarated and lifted up with inward joy, pain of body is almost forgotten, the soul conquering the body. On the other hand the soul's sorrow will create bodily pain, the lower nature sympathizing with the higher.

III. Our third question shall be, WHAT WAS OUR LORD'S SOLACE IN ALL THIS? He resorted to prayer, and especially to prayer to God under the character of Father. In conclusion: Learn —

1. The real humanity of our Lord.

2. The matchless love of Jesus.

3. The excellence and completeness of the atonement.

4. Last of all, what must be the terror of the punishment which will fall upon those men who reject the atoning blood, and who will have to stand before God in their own proper persons to suffer for their sins.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. Come hither and behold THE SAVIOUR'S UNUTTERABLE WOE. We cannot do more than look at the revealed causes of grief.

1. It partly arose from the horror of His soul when fully comprehending the meaning of sin.

2. Another deep fountain of grief was found in the fact that Christ now assumed more fully His official position with regard to sin.

3. We believe that at this time, our Lord had a very clear view of all the shame and suffering of His crucifixion.

4. But possibly a yet more fruitful tree of bitterness was this — that now His Father began to withdraw His presence from Him.

5. But in our judgment the fiercest heat of the Saviour's suffering in the garden lay in the temptations of Satan. "This is your hour and the power of darkness." "The prince of this world cometh."

II. Turn we next to contemplate THE TEMPTATION OF OUR LORD.

1. A temptation to leave the work unfinished.

2. Scripture implies that our Lord was assailed by the fear that His strength would not be sufficient. He was heard in that He feared. How, then, was He heard? An angel was sent unto Him strengthening Him. His fear, then, was probably produced by a sense of weakness.

3. Possibly, also, the temptation may have arisen from a suggestion that He was utterly forsaken, I do not know — there may be sterner trials than this, but surely this is one of the worst, to be utterly forsaken.

4. We think Satan also assaulted our Lord with a bitter taunt indeed. You know in what guise the tempter can dress it, and how bitterly sarcastic he can make the insinuation — "Ah! Thou wilt not be able to achieve the redemption of Thy people. Thy grand benevolence will prove a mockery, and Thy beloved ones will perish."

III. Behold, THE BLOODY SWEAT. This proves how tremendous must have been the weight of sin when it was able so to crush the Saviour that He distilled drops of blood I This proves, too, my brethren, the mighty power of His love. It is a very pretty observation of old Isaac Ambrose that the gum which exudes from the tree without cutting is always the best. This precious camphire-tree yielded most sweet spices when it was wounded under the knotty whips, and when it was pierced by the nails on the cross; but see, it giveth forth its best spice when there is no whip, no nail, no wound. This sets forth the voluntariness of Christ's sufferings, since without a lance the blood flowed freely. No need to put on the leech, or apply the knife; it flows spontaneously.


1. Lonely prayer.

2. Humble prayer.

3. Filial prayer.

4. Persevering prayer.

5. Earnest prayer.

6. The prayer of resignation.

V. THE SAVIOUR'S PREVALENCE. His prayers did speed, and therefore He is a good Intercessor for us. "How was He heard?"

1. His mind was suddenly rendered calm.

2. God strengthened Him through an angel.

3. God heard Him in granting Him now, not simply strength, but a real victory over Satan.I do not know whether what Adam Clarke supposes is correct, that in the garden Christ did pay more of the price than He did even on the cross; but I am quite convinced that they are very foolish who get to such refinement that they think the atonement was made on the cross, and nowhere else at all. We believe that it was made in the garden as well as on the cross; and it strikes me that in the garden one part of Christ's work was finished, wholly finished, and that was His conflict with Satan. I conceive that Christ had now rather to bear the absence of His Father's presence and the revilings of the people and the sons of men, than the temptations of the devil. I do think that these were over when He rose from His knees in prayer, when He lifted Himself from the ground where He marked His visage in the clay in drops of blood.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)


1. The dignified essential Son of God.

2. Truly and properly the Son of Man. Had our nature, body, soul.


1. The agony itself.

(1)Deep, intense mental suffering.

(2)Overwhelming amazement and terror.

2. The cause of Christ's agony. It arose —

(1)From the pressure of s world's guilt upon Him.

(2)From the attacks of the powers of darkness.

(3)From the hiding of the Divine countenance.

3. The effects of the agony. He fell to the ground, overwhelmed, prostrated, and sweat as it were, great drops of blood.

III. THE PRAYER WHICH HE OFFERED. "He prayed more earnestly." Observe —

1. The matter of His prayer. It was for the removal of the cup (verse 42). As man, He had a natural aversion to pain and suffering.

2. The spirit of His prayer was that of holy submission, devout resignation.

3. The manner of His prayer.

4. The intensity of His prayer. The success of His prayer.Application:

1. Learn the amazing evil of sin.

2. The expensiveness of our redemption.

3. The sympathy of Christ (Hebrews 4:15).

4. The necessity of resignation to the will of God.

(J. Burns, D. D.)


1. A vehement inward struggle.

(1)On the one hand He was seized by fear and horror of His passion and death.

(2)On the other hand He was burning with zeal for the honour of God and redemption of men.

(3)How great will be the anguish of the sinner at the sight of everlasting death and the endless pains of hell!

2. The representation of all the sins of the past, present, and future.

3. The consideration that His passion would prove useless to so many.


1. He sweat blood in the strict sense of the word.

(1)Natural blood.

(2)In a natural way.

2. He was full of sorrow.

3. He fell upon His face.

(J. Marchant.)

I. AN ACT OF REAL PRAYER IS GREAT, POWERFUL, AND BEAUTIFUL; a spirit in an energy of pure, subdued, but confident desire, rising up and embracing, and securing the aid of the mighty Spirit of God. If we can believe the power of prayer, we may put forth the force of the soul and perform that act. How then can we learn that power? My answer is, From Christ. Everywhere Christ is the Representative Man. This in two senses.

1. He is human nature in sum and completeness as it ought to be. To see humanity as God imaged and loved it, to see humanity at its best, we must see our Master.

2. And Christ represents to us perfect human conduct. To see how to act in critical situations we must study Christ. In critical situations? Yes! there is the difficulty, there also the evidenced nobleness of a lofty human character. I need hardly say (for you know who Christ was) the most critical moments in human history were the moments of the Passion. Oh, perfect example! Oh, severe and fearful trial! Christ knelt alone amidst the olives, in the quiet garden, in the lonely night, and Dear, His weary, sleepy followers. It is a simple scene, but Christ's spirit was in action. What was the significance of the act? It was very awful. It was an "agony," a life-struggle, a contest. Much was involved in that moment of apparent quietude, of real struggle; but one lesson at any rate is important. Examine it. Here we have a witness to the power of prayer.

II. THE AGONY WAS LITERALLY A CONTEST. What was the nature of the struggle? It was a contest with evil; of that we are certain, although the depth and details are wrapped in mystery. Anyhow the struggle was with a force of which, alas! we ourselves know something. No one can live to the ago of five-and-twenty, and reflect with any degree of seriousness on himself or on the world around him, without knowing that evil is a fact. We find its cruel records in the blood-stained pages of history. We listen, and amidst whatever heavenly voices, still the wail of its victims is echoing age after age down the "corridors of time." Our own faults and follies will not efface themselves from the records of memory; in the brightness of the flaring day of life they may fade into dim and shadowy outline, but there are times of silence — on a sick-bed, in the still house at midnight, in the open desolation of the lonely sea — when they rise like living creatures, spectral threateners, or blaze their unrelenting facts in characters of fire. Their force was not realized in the moment of passion. But conscience bides its time, bears its stern, uncompromising witness when passion is asleep or dead. Sin is a matter of experience. It has withered life, in fact, in history, with the deathly chill and sadness of the grave. Somehow all feel it, but it is prominent and stern before the Christian. He can never forget, nor is it well he should, that we are in a world in which, when God appeared in human form, He was subjected to insult and violence by His creatures. That is enough. That is, without controversy, the measure of the power, the intensity of evil. If there is to be a contest with evil, it is clearly a contest with a serious enemy.

III. HOW CAN WE THROW BACK SO FIERCE A POWER? THE ANSWER BROADLY IS, RELIGION. Religion is a personal matter; it must hold a universal empire over the being of each of us; it must rouse natural forces only by being in possession of supernatural power. Brothers, to possess a religion which can conquer sin we must follow our Master in the severity of principle, of conviction, of unflinching struggle. The external scene of His trial was simple, but He fought, and therefore conquered. Certainly He fought with evil, "being in an agony."

IV. "FOUGHT WITH EVIL." "What do you mean?" you ask. Evil! Is evil a thing, an object, like the pyramids of Egypt, or the roaring ocean, or an advancing army? Evil is the act of choice of a created will. It is the rejection by the creature of the laws of life laid down, not as tyrannical rules, but as necessary truths, by the Creator. Evil takes three active forms, so says Scripture, so we have learned in the Catechism: the accumulated force of bad opinion, that is "the world"; or the uncertain revolt of our own corrupt desires, that is "the flesh"; or a living being wholly surrendered to hatred of the Creator, that is "the devil." Think of the last. You realize the severity of the contest in remembering that you fight with a fiend. Satan is a person. In this is he like ourselves. Of man it is said "he has thoughts of himself." This is true of Satan; he can think of himself, he can purpose with relentless will, he can plan with unparalleled audacity. There are three specific marks of his character —

1. He is inveterate in his hatred of truth, lie is a liar.

2. He is obstinate in his abhorrence of charity, pure intention, and self-sacrificing devotion. He is a murderer.

3. He shrinks from the open glory of goodness. He is a coward. To "abide in the truth," to "love good," and "love one another with a pure heart fervently," and to have holy fearlessness in the power of God is to be in direct opposition to him. From this it is evident that our contest is with a tremendous enemy, and that against us he need never be victorious. My brothers, there are two shadows projected over human life from two associated and mysterious facts — from sin, from death. In that critical moment when the human will is subjected to the force of temptation and yields to its sway, in that solemn moment when the human spirit is wrenched away for a time from its physical organism, there is a special power dangerously, not irresistibly, exercised by the being who is devoted to evil. A hint of this is given in Scripture in the allusion to the spirit "that now worketh in the children of disobedience," a hint of this dark realm certainly in the prayer by the grave-side that we may not "for any pains of death fall " from God. There is a shadow-land. How may we contemplate it without hopeless shuddering, how think of entering it without despairing fear? Now here is a primary fact. Christ our strength as well as our example boldly entered, and in the depths of its deepest blackness conquered the fiend. "He was made sin"; "He became obedient unto death"; and for all who will to follow Him, His love, His devotion is victorious. "We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us." Yes! In union with Christ we can do what He did. O blessed and brave One! We may follow His example and employ His power. His power! How may we be possessed of it? In many ways. Certainly in this way. It is placed at the disposal of the soul that prays. This is in effect the answer of Christ's revelation to the question, Why should we pray? Two facts let us remember and act upon with earnestness.

1. The value of a formed habit of prayer. Crises are sure to come and then we are equally sure to act on habitual impulse. Christ learned in His humanity and practised Himself in the effort of prayer, and when the struggle reached its climax, the holy habit had its fulfilment. "Belong in an agony He prayed." And —

2. It is in moments of contest that real prayer rises to its height and majesty. "When my heart is hot within me," says the Psalmist, "I will complain"; and of Christ it is written, "Being in an agony He prayed more earnestly." Prayer, too, as the Christian knows, is not always answered now in the way he imagines most desirable, but it is always answered. If the cup does not pass, at least there is an angel strengthening the human spirit to drain it bravely to the dregs. Subjectively, there is comfort; objectively, there is real help. What might have been a tragedy becomes by prayer a blessing; desire which if misdirected might have crushed and overwhelmed us, becomes when truly used with the Holy Spirit's assistance a raw material of sanctity. Certainly from prayer we gain three things: a powerful stimulus, and strength for act or suffering; a deep and real consolation; and the soothing and ennobling sense of duty done.

(Canon Knox Little.)

There are some who only suppose that by this phraseology the mere size of the drops of perspiration is indicated. But the plain meaning of the language is that the sweat was bloody in its nature; that the physical nature of our Lord was so deranged by the violent pressure of mental agony that blood oozed from every pore. Such a result is not uncommon in a sensitive constitution. The face reddens with blood both from shame and anger. Were this continued with intensity, the blood would force its way through the smaller vessels, and exude from the skin. Kannigiesser remarks, "If the mind is seized with a sudden fear of death, the "sweat, owing to the excessive degree of constriction, often becomes bloody." The eminent French historian, De Thou, mentions the case of an Italian officer who commanded at Monte-Mars, a fortress of Piedmont, during the warfare in 1552 between Henry II. of France and the Emperor Charles V. The officer, having been treacherously seized by order of the hostile general, and threatened with public execution unless he surrendered the place, was so agitated at the prospect of an ignominious death that he sweated blood from every part of his body. The same writer relates a similar occurrence in the person of a young Florentine at Rome, unjustly put to death by order of Pope Sixtus V., in the beginning of his reign, and concludes the narrative as follows: "When the youth was led forth to execution, he excited the commiseration of many, and, through excess of grief, was observed to shed bloody tears, and to discharge blood instead of sweat from his whole body.'" Medical experience does so far corroborate the testimony of the Gospels, and shows that cutaneous hemorrhage is sometimes the result of intense mental agitation. The awful anguish of Him who said, "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death," was sufficient cause to produce the bloody perspiration on a cold night and in the open air.

(J. Eadie, D. D.)

On a certain occasion, when the Rev. J. Robertson had been preaching one of a series of sermons, on "Angels in their revealed connection with the work of Christ," Dr. Duncan came into the vestry and said: "Will you be so kind as to let me know when you are going to take up the case of my favourite angel?" "But who is he, Doctor?" "Oh! guess that." "Well, it would not be difficult to enumerate all those whose names we have given us." "But I can't tell you his name, he is an anonymous angel. It is the one who came down to Gethsemane, and there strengthened my Lord to go through His agony for me, that He might go forward to the cross, and finish my redemption there. I have an extraordinary love for that one, and I often wonder what I'll say to him when I meet him first." This was a thought Dr. Duncan never wearied of repeating, in varied forms, whenever the subject of angels turned up in conversation.

In the Ecclesiastical History of Socrates there is mention made of one Theodorus, a martyr put to extreme torments by Julian the Apostate, and dismissed again by him when he saw him unconquerable. Rufinus, in his History, says that he met with this martyr a long time after his trial, and asked him whether the pains he felt were not insufferable. He answered that at first it was somewhat grievous, but after awhile there seemed to stand by him a young man in white, who, with a soft and comfortable handkerchief, wiped off the sweat from his body (which, through extreme anguish, was little less than blood), and bade him be of good cheer, insomuch that it was rather a punishment than a pleasure to him to be taken off the rack. When the tormentors had done, the angel was gone.

The only child of a poor woman one day fell into the fire by accident, and was so badly burned that he died after a few hours' suffering. The clergyman, as soon as he knew, went to see the mother, who was known to be dotingly fond of the child. To his great surprise, he found her calm, patient, and resigned. After a little conversation she told him how she had been weeping bitterly as she knelt beside her child's cot, when suddenly he exclaimed, "Mother, don't you see the beautiful man who is standing there and waiting for me?" Again and again the child persisted in saying that "the beautiful man" was waiting for him, and seemed ready, and even anxious, to go to him. And, as a natural consequence, the mother's heart was strangely cheered.

(W. Baxendale.)

"Satan," says Bishop Hall, "always rocks the cradle when we sleep at our devotions. If we would prevail with God, we must wrestle first with our own dulness." And if this be needful, even in ordinary times, how much more so in the perilous days on which we are entering? Whatever we come short in, let it not be in watchfulness. None like to slumber who are expecting a friend or fearing a foe. Bunyan tells us "that when Hopeful came to a certain country, he began to be very dull and heavy of sleep. Wherefore he said, 'Let us lie down here, and take one nap.' 'By no means,' said the other, 'lest sleeping, we wake no more.' 'Why, my brother? Sleep is sweet to the labouring man; we may be refreshed, if we take a nap.' 'Do you not remember,' said the other, 'that one of.the shepherds bid us beware of the Enchanted Ground? He meant by that, that we should beware of sleeping.'" "Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober." Slumbering and backsliding are closely allied.

(R. Macdonald, D. D.)

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