Saviour's life on earth was a life of prayer. Many were the hours He
spent alone with God. Often did He send up His earnest petitions to His
heavenly Father. Thus He received strength and wisdom to sustain Him in
His work, and to keep Him from falling under the temptations of Satan.
After eating the Passover supper with His
disciples, Jesus went with them to the garden of Gethsemane, where He
often went to pray. As He walked, He talked with them, and taught them;
but as they neared the garden, He became strangely silent.
All His life, Jesus had lived in the
presence of His Father. The Spirit of God had been His constant guide
and support. He always gave God the glory for His works on earth, and
said, "I can of Mine own self do nothing." John 5:30.
We can do nothing of ourselves. It is
only by relying on Christ for all our strength that we can overcome, and
do His will on earth. We must have the same simple,
childlike trust in
Him that He had in His Father. Christ said, "Without Me ye can do
nothing." John 15:5.
The terrible night of agony for the
Saviour began as they neared the garden. It seemed that the presence of
God, which had been His support, was no longer with Him. He was
beginning to feel what it was to be shut out from His Father.
Christ must bear the sins of the world.
As they were now laid upon Him, they seemed more than He could endure.
The guilt of sin was so terrible, He was tempted to fear that God could
no longer love Him.
As He felt the awful displeasure of the
Father against evil, the words were forced from Him, "My soul is
exceeding sorrowful, even unto death."
Near the gate of the garden, Jesus had
left all His disciples except Peter, James, and John, and He had gone
into the garden with these three. They were His most earnest followers,
and had been His closest companions. But He could not bear that even
they should witness the suffering He was to endure. He said to them:
"Tarry ye here, and watch with Me."
He went a short distance from them, and
fell prostrate upon the ground. He felt that by sin He was being
separated from the Father. The gulf between them appeared so broad, so
black, so deep, that He shuddered before it.
Christ was not suffering for his own
sins, but for the sins of the world. He was feeling the displeasure of
God against sin as the sinner will feel it in the great judgment day.
In His agony, Christ clung to the cold
ground. From His pale lips came the bitter cry, "O My Father, if it be
possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless not as I will, but as
Thou wilt." Matthew 26:39.
For an hour Christ bore this terrible
suffering alone. Then He came to the disciples, hoping for some word of
sympathy. But no sympathy awaited Him, for they were asleep. They awoke
at the sound of His voice, but they hardly knew Him, His face was so
changed by anguish. Addressing Peter, He said:
"Simon, sleepest thou? Couldest not thou
watch one hour?" Mark 14:37.
Just before He bent His footsteps to the
garden, Christ had said to the disciples, "All ye shall be offended
because of Me this night." They had given Him the strongest assurance
that they would go with Him to prison and to death. And poor,
self-sufficient Peter had added, "Although all shall be offended, yet
will not I." Mark 14:27, 29.
But the disciples trusted to themselves.
They did not look to the Mighty Helper as Christ had counseled them to
do. So when the Saviour was most in need of their sympathy and prayers,
they were found asleep. Even Peter was sleeping.
And John, the loving disciple who had
leaned upon the breast of Jesus, was asleep. Surely the love of John for
his Master should have kept him awake. His earnest prayers should have
mingled with those of his loved Saviour in the time of His great agony.
The Redeemer had spent whole nights in praying for His disciples, that
their faith might not fail in the hour of trial. Yet they could not
remain awake with Him even one hour.
Had Christ now asked James and John, "Can
ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the
that I am baptized with?" they would not have answered so readily as
they did before, "We can." Mark 10:38, 39.
The Saviour's heart was filled with pity
and sympathy at the weakness of His disciples. He feared that they could
not endure the test which His suffering and death would bring upon them.
Yet He did not sternly reprove them for
their weakness. He thought of the trials that were before them, and
"Watch and pray, that ye enter not into
He made an excuse for their failure in
duty toward Him: "The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."
Matthew 26:41. What an example of the tender, loving pity of the
Again the Son of God was seized with
superhuman agony. Fainting and exhausted, He staggered back, and prayed
as He had prayed before:
"O My Father, if this cup may not pass
away from Me, except I drink it, Thy will be done." Matthew 26:42.
The agony of this prayer forced drops of
blood from His pores. Again He sought the disciples for sympathy, and
again He found them sleeping. His presence aroused them. They looked
upon His face with fear, for it was stained with blood. They could not
understand the anguish of mind which His face expressed.
The third time He sought the place of
prayer. A horror of great darkness overcame Him. He had lost the
presence of His Father. Without this, He feared that in His human nature
He could not endure the test.
The third time He prays the same prayer
as before. Angels long to bring relief, but it may not be. The Son of
God must drink this cup, or the world will be lost forever. He sees the
helplessness of man. He sees the power of sin. The woes of a doomed
world pass in review before Him.
He makes the final decision. He will save
man at any cost to Himself. He has left the courts of Heaven, where all
is purity, happiness, and glory, to save the one lost sheep, the one
world that has fallen by transgression, and He will not turn from His
purpose. His prayer now breathes only submission:
"If this cup may not pass away from Me,
except I drink it, Thy will be done."
The Saviour now falls dying to the
ground. No disciple is there, to place his hand tenderly beneath his
Master's head, and bathe that brow, marred indeed more than the sons of
men. Christ is alone; of all the people there are none with Him.
But God suffers with His Son. Angels
behold the Saviour's agony. There is silence in Heaven. No harp is
touched. Could men have viewed the amazement of the angelic host as in
silent grief they watched the Father separating His beams of light,
love, and glory from His beloved Son, they would better understand how
offensive in His sight is sin.
A mighty angel now comes to the side of
Christ. He lifts the head of the divine sufferer upon his bosom, and
points toward Heaven. He tells Him that He has come off victor over
Satan. As the result, millions will be victors in His glorious kingdom.
A heavenly peace rests upon the Saviour's
blood-stained face. He has borne that which no human being can ever
bear; for He has tasted the sufferings of death for every man.
Again Christ sought His disciples, and
again He found them sleeping. Had they remained awake, watching and
praying with their Saviour, they would have received help for the trial
before them. Missing this, they had no strength in their hour of need.
Looking sorrowfully on them, Christ said,
"Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the
Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners."
Even as He spoke these words, He heard
the footsteps of the mob in search of Him, and said:
"Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at
hand that doth betray Me." Matthew 26:45, 46.