Matthew 26:36
At that time Jesus went with His disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and He told them, "Sit here while I go over there and pray."
Gethsemane, the Oil-PressAlexander MaclarenMatthew 26:36
The Power of Prayer in Relation to Outward CircumstancesFriedrich Schleiermacher Matthew 26:36
Truths Learnt in GethsemaneR. Tuck Matthew 26:36
JudasMarcus Dods Matthew 26:14-25, 47-50
A Visit to GethsemaneJ. Parsons.Matthew 26:36-39
Christ's AgonyA. L. R. Foote.Matthew 26:36-39
Christ's Agony in the GardenH. Melvill, B. D.Matthew 26:36-39
Comforts in TrialW. Bates.Matthew 26:36-39
Divine SorrowDean Stanley.Matthew 26:36-39
Duty of SubmissionSir Wm. Temple., E. de Pressense, D. D.Matthew 26:36-39
Emblem of ProvidenceW. Bates.Matthew 26:36-39
Falling on His FaceGeorge Dawson.Matthew 26:36-39
GethsemaneW. H. Davison.Matthew 26:36-39
God's Providence an Argument for SubmissionW. Bates.Matthew 26:36-39
Inducements to ResignationJ. Jortin.Matthew 26:36-39
Jesus PrayingC. H. Spurgeon.Matthew 26:36-39
Man's Evil NatureW. Bates.Matthew 26:36-39
Our Lord's Example of ResignationJ. Jortin.Matthew 26:36-39
PrayerF. W. Robertson, M. A.Matthew 26:36-39
Prayer to Seek God's Will, not Man's WishF. W. Robertson, M. A.Matthew 26:36-39
Present Comforts in AfflictionW. Bates.Matthew 26:36-39
ResignationW. Bates.Matthew 26:36-39
Storms Beat Round Mountain SoulsGeorge Dawson.Matthew 26:36-39
Submission a ProgressC. J. Vaughan, D. D.Matthew 26:36-39
Submission to the Divine WillMatthew 26:36-39
The Broken WillGeorge Dawson.Matthew 26:36-39
The Christian's GethsemaneCanon Liddon.Matthew 26:36-39
The Father's CupE. Stillingfleet.Matthew 26:36-39
The Figure of the CupHorace Bushnell.Matthew 26:36-39
The Language and Tone Befitting Our Prayers to GodGeorge Wray, M. A.Matthew 26:36-39
The Prayer in GethsemaneE. Stillingfleet.Matthew 26:36-39
The Representative Human ConflictSelected.Matthew 26:36-39
The Soul-Passion of ChristCanon Liddon.Matthew 26:36-39
The Soul-Sorrow of JesusJ. Macnaughton.Matthew 26:36-39
The Agony in the GardenJ.A. Macdonald Matthew 26:36-46

Jesus, with his apostles, after the eventful moonlight walk from Jerusalem, came to a place at the foot of the Mount of Olives, called "Gethsemane," or the oil presses. Here he entered upon a scene the moral grandeur of which is only exceeded by that of Calvary. The olive in the oil press, like the grape in the wine press, was trodden (see Micah 6:15). The sufferings of the Lord in the garden were purely mental; those on the cross were physical also. Meditate upon the trouble of his soul -


1. This is expressed in his references to it.

(1) A few days earlier he said, "Now is my soul troubled" (John 12:27); but here the storm of temptation sets in in earnest.

(2) The expression, "to be sorrowful" (ver. 37), conveys the idea of horror. The "horror of great darkness" (see Genesis 15:12). This was the setting in of that last and darkest cloud of temptation which finally descended so low as to darken the earth at the Crucifixion (see Matthew 27:45).

(3) The word rendered "to be very heavy" (New Version, "sore troubled") implies the loss of pleasure derived from other things. This is characteristic of very deep human grief. Our Lord was truly human.

(4) The suffering increases. "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death." The nature of this sorrow also was human, but its severity was beyond all human comprehension. For the love from which he contended was Divine love for the whole human race. What must have been the agony of that sense of death!

2. It is expressed in the agony of his prayer.

(1) "He fell on his face." Great anguish is expressed as rolling in the dust (see Micah 1:10). Job, in his great grief, fell on the ground.

(2) His prayer was importunate. "If it be possible." Mark gives it thus: "Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee" (Mark 14:36). To God all things are not morally, though physically all things are, possible. "Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt." Here is the human will of Christ, in the extremest circumstances, deferring to his Divine will.

(3) His supplication was with "strong crying and tears" to be saved from this fearful death sorrow (see Hebrews 5:7). These cries reached the hearing of the disciples, and they observed his tears when he came to them in the moonlight.

(4) The petition was thrice repeated. Paul expresses his own importunity in the words, "I besought the Lord thrice" (see 2 Corinthians 12:8). Perhaps the iteration of the prayer of Jesus implied as many distinct temptations. They were, however, related to the same "cup."


1. It partly arose from the contradiction of sinners. (See Hebrews 12:3.)

(1) The treachery of Judas was working to its issue. He sorely felt the ingratitude of that "familiar friend in whom" once he worthily "trusted," but who was now desperately fallen (el. Psalm 41:9; John 13:18; Acts 1:25).

(2) The treachery of the Jews was working with Judas, their type. This also afflicted his patriotic heart. See that wonderful description in the hundred and ninth psalm of the sorrows of Messiah in connection with the treachery of Judas and of the Jews.

(3) The wickedness of the world at large was also before him in all its enormity. A specimen of that enormity was soon to be displayed in the conduct of the Roman governor and his men of war. For this he felt acutely, as having taken upon him that humanity which is common to all.

2. It partly arose from the weakness of his disciples.

(1) They were slow of heart to believe fully in him. This, notwithstanding all the pains he had taken to instruct them, notwithstanding all the miracles to confirm his teaching which they had seen.

(2) But they were full of self-assertion. This he had that day witnessed in their professions of readiness to die with him. And though he, in the spirit of prophecy, rebuked it, still they remained self-confident; for they slept when they should have watched.

(3) When David wept at this Mount of Olives, all his followers wept with him (see 2 Samuel 15:30); but when the Son of David was there in tears, his followers were asleep. Yet was not their sleep without sorrow (see Luke 22:45). Still it was open to rebuke. "He saith unto Peter," who had been foremost in promising to die with him, "What, could ye not watch with me one hour?"

(4) This evidence of their weakness Jesus uses to press upon them the urgent need of their watching and praying, that they might not yield to the approaching temptation. If prayer against the hour of temptation was needful for the Master, how much more so for the servants! "Prayer without watching is hypocrisy; and watching without prayer is presumption" (Jay).

(5) "Sleep on now." This is the same as "Why sleep ye?" as it is given in Luke 22:46; a rebuke, e.g. "I no longer enjoin upon you to watch; the season is now past for that duty, the time of trial for which watching and praying would have prepared you has arrived." He watched and prayed, and received strength to drink the bitter cup (cf. Luke 12:43; Hebrews 5:7); they slept away the precious moments, and the hour of trial found them without strength.

3. It partly arose from the malignity of Satan.

(1) The devil was in Iscariot (cf. Luke 22:3; John 13:2, 27).

(2) The devil was in the Jews. The prevalence of demoniacal possession at the time of Christ's sojourn amongst them was a sign of the condition of the nation.

(3) The devil was in the Gentile nations. He was, and still is, to a fearful extent, "the god of this world."

(4) That was emphatically "the hour of the power of darkness" - the crisis in which Satan was permitted to put forth all his strength in his conflict with the "Seed of the woman." For the sufferings on the cross were but the complement and sequel of those in the garden.

4. It principally arose from the anger of God. We may here make the general observation, viz. that the terrible "cup" which Jesus had to drink was given to him by the hand of his Father (cf. ver. 39; John 18:11). The subject will be more particularly considered as we meditate further upon the trouble of the soul of our Lord.


1. He shares his sorrows with those he loves best.

(1) To the college of the apostles he said, "Sit ye here, while I go yonder and pray." Rome are able to go only so far with Christ in his sufferings.

(2) "And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee" to whom he said, "Abide ye here, and watch with me." "Sit ye here" (ver. 36), and "Abide ye here" (ver. 38), mark a law of progression in following.

(3) To these he said, "Watch with me." Watch while I watch. Watch as I watch. The temptations directed against Christ are those directed against his Church.

(4) But who were these? They were the three formerly chosen to be the witnesses of the Transfiguration (see Matthew 17:1). Those are best prepared to suffer with Christ who have seen his glory. So likewise those who suffer with him may expect to reign with him. The sons of Zebedee had offered themselves to drink of his cup (see Matthew 20:20-23).

2. But there is a limit to their companionship.

(1) "Tarry ye here." Beyond this the best and most perfected cannot go. Christ had lately prayed with his disciples (see John 17:1); now he prays alone. Note: Our prayers with our families must not be pleaded to excuse the neglect of secret devotions.

(2) But why did he now pray and suffer apart? Because his sufferings now were vicarious, and in these he could have no sharer, for he only was sinless, and he only was Divine. In his pleadings he makes no mention of his virtues, for he was suffering as the Sin bearer for the world.

(3) That this agony in the garden was for us is evident, else One so great and glorious as he was would never have "feared" as he did. His fear was not for the loss of natural life to himself. That, to one who on the third day after his death was to rise again, is clearly out of the question. His "godly tear" (see Hebrews 5:7, New Version) was for the loss of spiritual and eternal life to the whole world. May it not also have been lest, if the death sorrow in the garden should prove fatal, the fulfilment of the Scriptures in respect to his death by crucifixion might be imperilled?

(4) The "cup" was the Passion which was now beginning, but had to be completed on the cross. The allusion may be to the poison cup given to criminals. To this Paul possibly alludes when he says, "Jesus Christ, by the grace of God, tasted death forevery man" (Hebrews 2:9). Here the whole world is represented as standing guilty and condemned before the tribunal of God. Into every man's hand is placed the deadly cup, and he is required to drink off the poison. But Jesus enters, takes every man's cup out of his hand, drinks off the poison, and thus tastes or suffers the death which every man otherwise must have suffered (see A. Clarke, in loc.). - J.A.M.

A place called Gethsemane.
To a thoughtful and inquiring mind, nothing will be more manifest than the decorum of our Saviour's addresses to the throne of grace. He is never betrayed into flights and ecstasies; never uses any phrase which is not marked by the strictest rules of soberness and truth. In His agony in the garden, when, if ever, the mind of an afflicted and sorrowful man, overwhelmed with grief, and preparing for trial and for death, might be expected to break forth into piteous cries and strong phrases, there is not one word which betrays the slightest excess. His soul is wrung with pain. He is very sorrowful. He is sorrowful even unto death. His agony is, perhaps, unspeakable; but not one impassioned cry, not one indecorous expression, not one familiar word, escapes his lips. His prayer is such as befits a son who honours his father, and who seems to have ever present to his mind the dignity of that parent. Now compare this with the prayers of ignorant and uneducated men — with the loud cry, the coarse phrases, the vehement gesticulations, the monstrous apostrophes they employ; above all, with the familiar way in which they speak of God and address themselves to Him, and judge between them and Jesus Christ. Jesus came to set us an example, as well in what He said as in what He did. He taught us how to pray. He showed on this great occasion, an occasion which none beside will ever experience, what is to be the tone and manner of our addresses to God. He was dignified in the midst of His distress. His holy father was an object of the devoutest reverence, so devout that He never presumes either then, or at any time, to use familiar language to Him..His prayer was such that it might have been listened to by the greatest prince or the pro-roundest scholar, yet it was a prayer so simple that any one can use it. Every sentence, every word, every syllable, is suitable to the majesty of heaven and the weakness of man. He never descends to low phrases and conversational terms, nor forgets, for one moment, that He is in intercourse with the Father of spirits.

(George Wray, M. A.)

Payson was asked, when under great bodily affliction, if he could see any particular reason for the dispensation. "No," he replied; "but I am as well satisfied as if I could see ten thousand; God's will is the very perfection of all reason."

I know no duty in religion more generally agreed on, nor more justly required by God Almighty, than a perfect submission to His will in all things; nor do I think any disposition of mind can either please Him more, or become us better, than that of being satisfied with all He gives, and contented with all He takes away. None, I am sure, can be of more honour to God, nor of more ease to ourselves. For if we consider Him as our Maker, we cannot contend with Him; if as our Father, we ought not to distrust Him; so that we may be confident, whatever He does is intended for our good; and whatever happens that we interpret otherwise, yet we can get nothing by repining, nor save anything by resisting.

(Sir Wm. Temple.)My will, not thine, be done, turned Paradise into a desert. "Thy will, not mine be done," turned the desert into Paradise, and made Gethsemane the gate of heaven.

(E. de Pressense, D. D.)

The interest attached to the events belonging to the course of our Redeemer becomes more touching and more absorbing as they advance towards the close, etc.

I. WHAT WAS THE "PLACE CALLED GETHSEMANE?" There were reasons why this garden should be selected, at once obvious and important. Knowing what He had to undergo, the Lord Jesus wanted privacy; the disciple who was to betray Him knew the place, etc.


1. Its intensity. Formerly His sorrow had been chastened and subdued, while now it burst forth irrepressibly and without reserve. Presented in the Evangelical narratives.

2. Its cause. The solitude of the cause of the Saviour's emotion, is exclusively this, that He was not only a martyr, but a Mediator, and that He suffered as an expiation on behalf of human sin. He was feeling the immense and terrible weight of propitiation.

3. Its relief and end. Support conveyed as an answer to His prayers, through the ministration of an angel, invigorating Him for the endurance of the final and fearful crisis which was before Him. He is enthroned in the loftiest elevation.


1. The enormous evil and heinousness of sin.

2. The amazing condescension and love of the Lord Jesus.

3. The duty of entire reliance upon the Saviour's work, and entire consecration to the Saviour's service. For that reliance, genuine and implicit faith is what is required — faith being the instrument of applying to whole perfection of His work, etc. Who can do other than recognize at once the obligation and the privilege of entire consecration?

(J. Parsons.)

I. THAT THE BODILY SUFFERINGS OF JESUS, however acute and protracted, COULD NOT CONSTITUTE A SUFFICIENT ATONEMENT FOR SIN. Nor meet the demands of a violated law. The bodily suffering is no adequate compensation for the evil committed. The soul is the chief sinner. The sufferings of Christ in His body could not be a sufficient atonement for sin because they did not exhaust the curse pronounced by the law against transgression.

II. THE SEVERITY OF THE MEDIATOR'S SORROW. When He made His soul an offering for sin.

1. He suffered much from the temptations by which He was assailed.

2. From the ingratitude and malignity of man.

3. The soul-sorrow of Christ was produced by the sensible withholding of all comforting communication from heaven, and by the feeling of forsakenness in the hour of distress.

4. The sorrow of the Redeemer's soul rose to its height when he did actually endure the wrath of God due to our sins.

(J. Macnaughton.)

Our Savour's conflict in Gethsemane was a representative conflict, and it reveals to us the meaning of human life, and the struggle through which we must pass.

I. There are only two wills in the world-God's wilt, and man's will.

II. The blessedness of man, the creature, must lie in the harmonious working together of these two wills.

III. These two wills are at present in antagonism.

IV. How can these two wills be brought together into harmony? Answer —

1. Not by any changing of the perfect will of God.

2. Man's will is wrong, imperfect, misguided, it may be changed, it ought to be changed, it must be changed. Here is the proper first sphere of a redeeming work. What shall change it? The truth as it is in Jesus. The work wrought out for us by Jesus. The grace won for us by Jesus. The constraining of the love of Jesus. The power of the risen and living Jesus.


What is the explanation we are to give of this passage in our Lord's life? One explanation which has been offered is that Gethsemane witnessed a last and more desperate assault of the evil One; but for this the Bible gives no clear warrant. Certainly, the evil One, after his great defeat on the mountain of the Temptation, is said to have departed from our Lord " for a season," aa expression which seems to imply that he afterwards returned; but, so far as the text of Scripture can guide us, he returned to assail not the Workman hut the work. What took place in Gethsemane is totally unlike the scene in the Temptation. At the Temptation, our Lord is throughout calm, firm, majestic. He repels each successive assault of the tempter with a word of power. The prince of this world came, and had nothing in Him, But in Gethsemane He is overcome by that, whatever it was, which pressed on Him. lie is meek, prostrate, unnerved, dependent (as it seems) on the sympathy and nearness of those whom He had taught and led. There He resists and vanquishes with tranquil strength a personal opponent; here He sinks as if in fear and bewilderment to the very earth, as though a prey to some inward sense of desolation and collapse. His own words, "My soul is exceeding sorrowful," point to some great mental trouble; and if He was suffering from a mental trouble, what, may we dare to ask, was its provoking cause?

I. WAS IT NOT, FIRST OF ALL, AN APPREHENSION, DISTINCT, VIVID, AND OVERPOWERING, OF WHAT WAS PRESENTLY COMING? In Gethsemane, by an act of His will, our Lord opened upon His human soul a full view and apprehension of the impending sufferings of His passion and death; and the apprehension was itself an agony. The whole scene, the succession of scenes, passed before His mental eye; and as He gazes on it, a heart sickness — outcome and proof of His true Humanity — seizes on Him, and He shrinks back in dread from this dark and complex vision of pain.

II. HE WAS, SO TO SPEAK, MENTALLY ROBING HIMSELF FOR THE GREAT SACRIFICE — laying upon His sinless soul the sins of a guilty world. To us, indeed, the burden of sin is as natural as the clothes we wear; but to Him the touch of that which we take so easily was an agony, even in its lightest form; and when we think of the accumulated guilt of all the ages clinging around and most intimately present to Him, can we wonder that His bodily nature gave way, that His Passion seemed to have been upon Him before its time, and that "His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling to the ground."

(Canon Liddon.)

Surely He did not address these words, at once so imperative and so plaintive, to His apostle alone. They were words for all time, warning us not so to remember Calvary as to forget Gethsemane. Good indeed it is to retire to this inmost sanctuary of the human soul, to retire from a world of men, a world which chiefly fixes its eye on the outward and the material, and which passes its years in struggles and efforts that often leave no more traces upon anything that really lasts, then do the busy little children on the seashore, who diligently pile up their sand castles in face of the rising tide. The soul of Jesus in Gethsemane was, above all things, in contact with realities, but they are the realities of the world of spirits at the least not one whir less real than the stones and the gases of the world of matter. The soul of Jesus in Gethsemane was engaged in a fearful struggle, but it was a struggle with issues reaching not into the next few weeks or years of some puny human life here below, but into the most distant vistas of the eternal world. It is not at all times that even good Christians can enter into the meaning of this solemn scene, but there are mental trials which interpret it to us, and which in turn are by it (if we will) transfigured into heavenly blessings.

I. THERE IS THE INWARD CONFLICT WHICH OFTEN PRECEDES OUR UNDERTAKING HARD OR UNWELCOME DUTY OR SACRIFICE. The eye measures the effort required, the length and degree of endurance which must be attempted ere the work is really done; and, as the eye traverses the field before it, all the quick sensibilities of feeling start up and rehearse their parts by anticipation, and cling to and clog and embarrass the will, holding it back from the road of duty. Struggles such as this between inclination and duty may be at times sorrowful to the soul, even unto death. When they come on you, brace yourselves by watching and praying with Jesus in Gethsemane, that you may learn to say with Him, "Not my will, but Thine, be done."

II. THERE ARE FORMS OF DOUBT RESPECTING GOD'S GOODNESS AND PROVIDENCE, WHICH ARE A GREAT TROUBLE AT TIMES. NOT self-caused doubts, but embarrassments which beset earnest and devout souls under stress of great sorrow or calamity. The best remedy for these is to kneel in spirit side by side with Jesus m Gethsemane; it is prayer such as His was that struggles under a darkened heaven into the light beyond.

III. DESOLATENESS OF SOUL, MAKING GOD'S SERVICE DISTASTEFUL. Prayer becomes insipid and unwelcome, duty is an effort against the grain, the temper is dejected. Tempted to give up all in disgust, and let things take their chance for time or eternity. They who experience this can but kneel in Gethsemane with the prayer, "O, my Father, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what Thou wilt."

IV. THE APPROACH OF DEATH. This may indeed come upon us suddenly as a thief in the night, but may also be ushered in, as it generally is, by a preface of weakened health and lingering sickness. In many cases it has happened that at the very beginning of an "illness which was to end with life, a clear presentiment of this has been graciously vouchsafed. "I was sitting at luncheon," said one of the best of Christ's servants in this generation, "and I suddenly felt as never before: I felt that something had given way. I knew what it meant, what it must mean. I went up into my room; I prayed God that He would enable me to bear what I knew was before me, and would at the last receive me for His own Son's sake." It was the close of a life as bright as it was beautiful, in which there was much to leave behind — warm and affectionate friends, and an abundance of those highest satisfactions which come with constant and unselfish occupation; but it was the summons to another world, and as such it was obeyed. Death is always awful, and the first gaze at the break-up of all that we have hitherto called life must ever have about it a touch of agony. And yet, if Jesus in Gethsemane is our Shepherd, surely we shall lack nothing; yea, though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we shall fear no evil, for He is with us who has gone before, His rod and His staff comfort us.

(Canon Liddon.)

I. WE DWELL MORE ON THE BODILY ANGUISH OF OUR LORD THAN THE METAL. We figure to ourselves the external woes of which flesh was the subject rather than those griefs which were within the soul. We must not, forget that others besides Christ have died the most cruel deaths with fortitude. The bodily sufferings of Christ were but an inconsiderable part of His endurances. It was in soul rather than in body that our Saviour made atonement for transgression. You must be aware that anguish of soul more than of the body is the everlasting portion which is to be swarded to sinners; so we may expect that the soul-agony of a surety or substitute would be felt more than the bodily. Indeed, in the garden there was no bodily suffering, no spear, nails.

II. EXCEEDING SORROWFUL UNTO DEATH The soul cannot die, yet so exceeding was Christ's sorrow that He could speak of it as nothing less than actual death. The soul was the sin-offering.

1. We would have you be aware of the enormous cost at which you have been ransomed.

2. It gives preciousness to the means of grace thus to consider them as brought into being by the agonies of the Redeemer. Will you trifle with them?

3. Having spoken not only of the exceeding sorrowfulness of Christ's soul, but of the satisfaction which that sorrowfulness yields, I would not conclude without a vision of His glorious triumphs.

(H. Melvill, B. D.)


1. That gloom may have been the sense of the near approach of death with all the dread misgivings which beset the spirit in that supreme hour.

2. It may have been the sense of loneliness, of the ingratitude, the failure of His disciples and countrymen.

3. Or it was the sense of the load of human wickedness entering into His soul, so as almost to take possession of it. "He who knew no sin was made sin for us." These troubled His soul.

4. This scene is the silent protest against the misery of wrong-doing, against the exceeding sinfulness of sin.

II. THE GREAT EXAMPLE OF HOW AND IN WHAT SPIRIT WE OUGHT TO PRAY. There is something higher in the efficacy and in the answer of prayer than the mere demanding and receiving the special blessings for which we ask. The cup did not pass from Him; but in two ways His prayer was granted.

1. In the heavenly strength that was given to Him to bear all the sorrows laid upon Him. The very act of prayer gives strength, will open our souls to supporting angels.

2. Not the substitution of the will of Christ for the will of the Eternal God, but the substitution of the will of the Eternal God for the will of His most dearly beloved Son. Great as is the will, holy as are the desires, Divine as are the aspirations that go up from earth, there is something greater, holier, Diviner yet; and that is the will that rules the universe, the mind which embraces within its scope the past, the present, and the future, this world and the next, the seen and the unseen. Without the agony, without the cross, Christianity and Christendom would not have been. If any act or event in the world's history was essential to its onward progress, essential to the elevation and purification of the individual man, it was the anguish which this night represents to us. This is the apparent conflict, but real unity of the sorrows of Gethsemane and Calvary with the perfect wisdom and mercy of the Supreme Intelligence. It is this conflict and this unity which lend such a breathless interest to the whole story of this week, which breathes at once the pathos and the triumph, the grief and the joy, through its example and its doctrine, through all its facts and all its poetry, through all its stirring music and all its famous pictures. And it is a conflict and a unity which still in its measures continue, and shall continue, as long as the will of humanity struggles and toils on earth to accomplish the will of Divinity. Not our will, but God's will be done. Not our will, for we know not what is best for us. We still see as through a glass very darkly, the end is not yet visible. But God's will be done, for He knows our necessities before we ask, and our ignorance in asking. His will, His supreme will in nature and in grace, let us learn to know; and having learned, to do it. Thy will be done. Make Thy will our will. Make Thy love our love. Make Thy strength perfect in our weakness, through Jesus Christ our Redeemer.

(Dean Stanley.)

I. THE RIGHT OF PETITION. We infer it to be a right.

1. Because it is a necessity of our nature. Prayer is a necessity of our humanity rather than a duty. The necessity to

(1)that of sympathy;

(2)the necessity of escaping the sense of a crushing fate.

2. We base this request on our privilege as children — "My Father."

3. Christ used it as a right, therefore we may. You cannot help praying if God's Spirit is in yours.

II. ERRONEOUS NOTIONS OF WHAT PRAYER IS. They are contained in that conception which He negatived, "As I will." A common conception of prayer is, that it is the means by which the wish of man determines the will of God. The text says clearly, "Not as I will." The wish of man does not determine the will of God. Try this conception by four tests.

1. By its incompatibility with the fact that this universe is a system of laws.

2. Try it by fact.

3. Try it by the prejudicial results of such a belief. Gives unworthy ideas of God. Consider the danger of vanity and supineness resulting from the fulfilment of our desires as a necessity.

4. It would be most dangerous as a criterion of our spiritual state if we think that answered prayer is a proof of grace. We shall be unreasonably depressed and elated when we do or do not get what we wish.

III. THE TRUE EFFICACY OF PRAYER — "AS Thou wilt." All prayer is to change the will human into submission to the will Divine. Hence we conclude —(1) That prayer which does not succeed in moderating our wish, in changing the passionate desire into still submission, is no true prayer;(2) That life is most holy in which there is least of petition and desire, and most of waiting upon God; in which petition often passes into thanksgiving.

(F. W. Robertson, M. A.)

Practically then, I say, Pray as He did, till prayer makes you cease to pray. Pray till prayer makes you forget your own wish, and leave it or merge it in God's will. The Divine wisdom has given us prayer, not as a means whereby to obtain the good things of earth, but as a means whereby we learn to do without them; not as a means whereby we escape evil, but as a means whereby we become strong to meet it. "There appeared an angel unto Him from heaven, strengthening Him." That was the true reply to His prayer.

(F. W. Robertson, M. A.)

Let us come into the presence of the Suppliant — this most human, yet most Divine Person, who is wrestling here in an agony even more spiritual than mortal. It is night. Christ has left the guest-chamber. He has crossed the brook Kedron. He has entered a garden, oftentimes His resort during His visits to Jerusalem, at the foot of the slope of Olivet; He has come hither to pray. Such prayer must be secret. He leaves His disciples at the entrance. Even secret prayer may be the better for having friends near. So with a touching union of love and humility He entreats His three disciples to watch with Him. See the example of suffering which is here set before us in Christ.

I. That all sorrow, all suffering, even if it be anguish, is A CUP. It is something definite, of a certain measure. It is of the Father's mingling; the cup of medicinal love.

II. Concerning this cup itself You MAY PRAY. There is not the distress upon earth as to which we ought not to pray.


1. As to a Father.

2. Again with an "If." You must recognize the possible impossibility.

3. With an earnest confession of the comparative value of two wills — your will and God's. Jesus went away the second time, and prayed. And what was this second prayer? "O My Father, if this cup may not pass away from Me, except I drink it, Thy will be done." This second prayer asks not at all for the removal of the cup. The first was prayer with submission; the second is submission without even prayer. Here is an example, set us by our Lord, of a progressive, growing submission to the mighty hand of God. I do not mean that our Lord had to learn, in the garden of Gethsemane, a lesson of obedience unknown before. How was Christ made perfect, but in the sense of a transition from disobedience to obedience. Yet, thus, in a constant development of obedience under a course of increasing difficulty. The earthly life of Christ was a perpetual going forward. "Let this cup pass." Was it not an added trial that the Saviour, like an apostle (2 Corinthians 12:8, 9) had asked relief, and not been answered? Beyond the submission of the will lies the silencing of the will; beyond the desire to have only if God will, the desire that God only may will, whether I have or not. All of us have wishes, strong impulses of the will towards this and-that; it is a part of our nature. By what steps shall they pass unto our final good?

1. We must turn them into prayers. Everything evil will refuse that test. You cannot turn a sinful wish into prayer.

2. The next step is not only to pray your wishes, but to pray them in a spirit of submission.

3. Then nothing remains but the act of submission, pure, simple, unconditional, absolute. No longer, "Let this cup pass," but "If this cup may not pass, Thy will be done." All this I leave to Thee; I ask not; I desire not; I pray not longer concerning it, only Thy will be done.

(C. J. Vaughan, D. D.)

Do we not use the same kind of language ourselves, having still no such thought as that the cup of anguish we speak of, or pray to be taken away, is a judicial infliction? This figure of the cup is used in Scripture for all kinds of experience, whether joyful or painful. Thus we have "the cup of salvation," "the cup of consolation," "the cup of trembling," "of fury," "of astonishment," "of desolation." Whatever God sends upon man to be deeply felt, and by whatever kind of providence, whether benignant, or disciplinary, or retributive, is called his cup.

(Horace Bushnell.)

There are several instructive features in our Saviour's prayer in His hour of trial.

1. It was lonely prayer. He withdrew even from His three favoured disciples. Believer, be much in solitary prayer, especially in times of trial.

2. It was humble prayer. Luke says He knelt, but another evangelist says He "fell on His face." Where, then, must be thy place, thou humble servant of the great Master? What dust and ashes should cover thy head? Humility gives us good foot-hold in prayer. There is no hope of prevalence with God unless we abase ourselves that He may exalt us in due time.

3. It was filial prayer — "Abba, Father." You will find it a stronghold in the day of trial to plead your adoption. You have no rights as a subject, you have forfeited them by your treason.

4. It was persevering prayer. He prayed three times. Cease not until you prevail.

5. It was the prayer of resignation — "Nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt."

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. Gethsemane suggests our blessed Redeemer's longing for human sympathy. "Tarry ye here and watch with Me." It is a purely human feeling.

II. Reminds us of the sacredness of human sorrow and Divine communion.

III. Reveals the overwhelming depth and fulness of the Redeemer's sorrow. Reminds us of the will of Christ yielded to the will of the Father.

IV. Has its lessons and influences for all our hearts. How it condemns sin! How it reveals the chiefest human virtue, and the power by which it may be attained! How it brings the Father close to our hearts in their sorrow and extremity!

(W. H. Davison.)

I. The occasion of these words.

II. The matter of these words.

1. The person to whom He makes His address.

2. The matter of His request.

3. The manner or earnestness of it.

4. The submission of it. Enforce two things:

I. There is an aversion in human nature from the pangs and bitterness of death.

II. Notwithstanding that, there are grounds of submission to the will of God in it.

(E. Stillingfleet.)

It is a Father that gives the cup.

1. A Father who knows what is fittest to be given us.

2. A Father who stands by His children to help and assist them.

3. A Father who will abundantly reward the taking of what He gives.

(E. Stillingfleet.)

To show how the Son of God exercised this virtue here upon earth.

1. We all desire the conveniences of life, and to be above dependence. For our sakes He became poor, and never complained on that account.

2. Hard labour attended with weariness is disagreeable. Our Saviour's life, during His ministry, was a life of hardship and fatigue.

3. Hunger and thirst, when long endured, are enemies to our nature, and put us to violent uneasiness till they are satisfied. These our Lord often suffered.

4. To those who have the instructions of others committed to their care, it is agreeable to meet with persons teachable and of good capacities, and tiresome to inform slow understandings.

5. Return of baseness and treachery from our intimates whom we have loaded with benefits, are most grievous to be borne, and will wring from the mildest temper complaints. Even to Judas, Jesus showed great lenity.

6. A good man, whose office it is to instruct others in religion, will be grieved when his charitable labours are lost, and he hath to do with stubborn offenders, who are deaf to all reproofs and admonitions.

7. To be injured in our reputation, and exposed to malicious calumny, is a great trial of human patience. This our Saviour endured.

8. To see multitudes involved in a great calamity is a grief to a charitable man.

9. Future evils, when we see them coming and are sure we cannot escape them, torment us near if not quite as much as when they are present.

10. Men love life and are unwilling to lose it. Most painful and ignominious was the death which Christ endured.

(J. Jortin.)

1. A belief in the goodness of God.

2. The reward in heaven which we may secure.

3. The behaviour of our Lord which we should be anxious to imitate.

(J. Jortin.)

In the garden Christ is exhibited to us in a two-fold character-as our surety and as our example. As our surety, suffering for us, and as our example, teaching us how to suffer.

I. Our surety.

1. How great were the sufferings of the Redeemer, and what was their true character.

2. How terrible the wrath of God is.

3. How great the guilt of sin is.

4. How great is the love of the Father and of the Son for sinners.

II. Our example. From it we learn —

1. That our being severely afflicted is no proof that we are not the children of God.

2. That it is not sinful to shrink from affliction or suffering of any kind, and to plead exemption from it.

3. The duty of submission to the will of God even under the greatest trials.

4. The efficacy of prayer in bringing support and comfort under affliction.

(A. L. R. Foote.)

It has been said by a great poet, that great characters and great souls are like mountains — they always attract the storms; upon their heads break the thunders, and around their bare tops flash the lightnings and the seeming wrath of God. Nevertheless, they form a shelter for the plains beneath them. That marvellous saying finds an illustration in the lowliest, saddest soul the world has ever had living in it — the Lord Christ. Higher than all men, around His head seemed to beat the very storms of sin; yet beneath the shelter of His great, consoling, sustaining spirit, what lowly people, what humble souls, what poor babes as to wisdom, what sucklings as to the world's truth, have gained their life in this world and eternal rest in God.

(George Dawson.)

Man must be thrown down that his will may be broken; and his will must be broken that God may reign within him. The will of God in man is life eternal.

(George Dawson.)

His great life lies before us, that we may strive to follow Him; and then, though falling on our faces as He fell, we may find ourselves able to rise up as He did. For in rising, He laid down His own will and took God's will in its place.

(George Dawson.)

His providence is comprehensive and complete; no unforeseen accidents in the freest and most contingent things, no unvoluntary obstruction in the most necessary things can break the entireness, or discompose the order of His providence. How exactly and easily does He manage and over-rule all things? The whole world is His house, and all the successive generations of men His family; some are His sons, and by voluntary subjection; others His slaves, and by just constraint fulfil His pleasure. 'Twas the saying of a wise king, instructed by experience, that the art of government was like the laborious travail of a weaver, that requires the attention of the mind and the activity of the body; the eyes, hands, and feet are all in exercise. And how often is the contexture of human councils, though woven with great care, yet unexpectedly broke? So many cross accidents interpose, so many emergencies beyond all prevention start up, that frustrate the designs and hopes of the most potent, rulers of this world. But God disposes all things with more facility than one of us can move a grain of sand.

(W. Bates.)

The sun applies its quickening influences for the production and growth of a single plant, as particularly as if there were no ether things in the world to receive them; yet at the same time it passes from sign to sign in the heavens, changes the scenes of the elements, produces new seasons, and its active and prolific heat forms and transforms whatsoever is changed in nature. This is a fit resemblance of the universal and special operations of Divine providence.

(W. Bates.)

The gracious soul has a taste and sight how "good the Lord is," as an earnest of the fulness of joy in heaven. Hope brings some leaves of the tree of life to refresh us with their fragancy; but love, of its fruits to strengthen us. As transplanted fruits, where the soil is defective and the sun less favourable, are not of that beauty and goodness as in their original country; so heavenly joys in this life are inferior in their degree to those of the blessed above, but they are very reviving.

(W. Bates.)

The entire resignation of our wills to the disposing will of God is the indispensable duty of Christians under the sharpest afflictions.

I. What is consistent with this resignation?

1. An earnest deprecation of an impending judgment is reconcilable with our submission to the pleasure of God, declared by the event.

2. A mournful sense of afflictions sent from God, is consistent with a dutiful resignation of ourselves to His will.

II. What is included in the resignment of ourselves to God in times of affliction.

1. The understanding approves the severest dispensations of Providence to be good, that is, for reasons, though sometimes unsearchable, yet always righteous, and for gracious ends to the saints.

2. This resignment principally consists in the consent and subjection of the will to the orders of heaven.

3. The duty of resignation consists in the composure of the affections to a just measure and temper, when under the sharpest discipline.

III. The reasons to convince us of this duty of resigning ourselves and all our interests to God.

1. The first argument arises from God's original supreme right in our persons, and all things we enjoy.

2. The righteousness of God in all His ways, if duly considered, will compose the afflicted spirit to quiet and humble submission.

3. His power is immense and uncontrollable, and it is a vain attempt to contend with Him, as if the eternal order of His decrees could be altered or broken.

4. His paternal love in sending afflictions is a sufficient argument to win our compliance with His will.(1) All His sons are under the discipline of the rod; and who would be so unhappy as to be exempted from that number for all the prosperity in the world?(2) Chastisement is the effect of His parental love.

(W. Bates.)

The historian tells of a clear vein of water that springs from Mongibel, that great furnace, that always sends forth smoke or flames, yet is as cool as if it distilled from a snowy mountain. Thus the saints in the fiery trial have been often refreshed with Divine comforts, and such humble submissions and gracious thanksgivings have proceeded from their lips, as have been very comfortable to those about them.

(W. Bates.)

Proud dust is apt to fly in God's face upon every motion of the afflicting passions; and by the resistance of self-will He is provoked to more severity.

(W. Bates.)

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