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of His Apostles rest (as Abraham once bade his young men,' almost in the same place) while He withdrew Himself, as He was in the habit of doing,2 for secret prayer. Peter however, who had professed himself ready to follow his Lord to prison and to death, He takes with Him, and those two sons of Zebedee, who had professed themselves able to drink of His cup. Now He began to be sorrowful, as He had never been before; to be, as it were, amazed, as at the apparition of some fearful thing; to be sorrowful exceedingly. This heaviness of heart He will meet and overcome by prayer. But first to the selected three He imparts the knowledge of His grief. His human soul is sorrowful even unto death. It was something more than the natural shrinking from it; for He knew what death is, and He was to taste of death for every man. Besides what we see in His sufferings, there was that "which our thoughts cannot reach." And so it is said in an ancient Litany, "By Thy unknown sufferings, Good Lord deliver us." These three then He bids stay where they were, somewhat in advance of the rest. He bids them, as an advanced guard, watch with Him, for the undefined danger, which they now felt might be near at hand. He bids them pray that they might not enter into temptation; that they might be spared a trial for which they were as yet unfit. Then He went on a little farther into the solemn shade, removed not more than a stone'sthrow 10 from these who were eye-witnesses of His agony, as they had been eye-witnesses of His Majesty;" so that they
1 Gen. xxii. 5.
8 Lucas Brugensis contrasting the
2 St. Luke v. 16; xi. 1; St. John joy with which martyrs met their vi. 15.
3 St. Mark xiv. 33; Psa. lv. 5; Gen. xv. 12.
4 1 Sa. xxx. 6.
5 The word is only found besides in St. John xii. 27. "Had we not had this account of the agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, we might have thought that He, who is God as well as man, could hardly have been sensible of those sufferings."-Bp. Trower.
death, with this mysterious temporary dread, shows that not only were all the dreadful circumstances foreknown to Him, but that He forewent and denied himself that Divine consolation which was abundantly supplied to them. Calvin speaks of the formidable tribunal of God as before His eyes, and the intolerable burden of our sins which weighed him down.
9 St. Luke xxii. 40.
10 St. Luke xxii. 41.
could both see what is recorded, and hear1 the voice of His thrice-uttered prayer. They see Him kneeling,3 prostrate on the ground. They hear Him praying to His Father," that if it were possible the hour might pass from Him, that this overhanging cloud might pass away. In broken accents" He pursues His prayer. "If Thou art willing to remove. this cup." Is there no other way, consistent with Almighty power? O that Thou mightest will it otherwise! Here the man comes in. See here the mystery of the twofold will of Christ. As man however He yields Himself to God. "Nevertheless not my will, but Thine, be done." His prayer, though not answered as human nature desired, is not in vain. The hour, the cup, remain; but strength is given Him to drain the one, to go through the other. "There appeared unto Him an Angel from Heaven, strengthening Him." 10
THE SAME SUBJECT-continued.
St. Matthew xxvi. 40-46.
And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy. And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, 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. Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me.
Another of the Evangelists adds this additional circumstance to what we have already heard of our Saviour's Passion, before He rose up from prayer: "And being in an agony, He prayed more earnestly: and His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground."1 It seemed to the selected three, watching as yet, that some vessel in this agony had burst, and that the life-blood was already issuing out, drop by drop. But the hour for this was not yet come, though it was nigh at hand. It was a natural, but intensified effect of the extreme emotion. This much then they see, but now they see no more. For, overpowered by the strange excitement, they had dropped off to sleep, and are only aroused by the Shepherd's voice, returning to look after the sheep who were to the last His care; 2 seeking too, it might be, in the mystery of His human nature, some solace even in the sympathy of these. To one in particular He addresses Himself, though the gentle reproof is meant for all. "Simon, sleepest thou?"3 Not one hour even of the conflict had elapsed, and here were the sentinels sleeping at their posts. They who boasted that they were ready to die with Him, have proved unequal even to watch with Him that short space. There is, He once more warns them, real danger at hand; and if they would prove equal to it, and not be overmastered by their fears, they must watch and pray. Mere good feelings and inclinations will not otherwise correct the weakness of the flesh. His words here are not meant as an excuse for giving way, but a reason for watchfulness and prayer. And of this He sets them an example, returning to make what was substantially the same
1 St. Luke xxii. 44.
2 St. John xviii. 8, 9; x. 27, 28. Alford refers it to His human craving for sympathy, "just (if we may compare our weakness with His) as we derive comfort in the midst of a terrible storm, from knowing that some
are awake and with us, even though
The "could ye not" of the E. V. hardly conveys the force of the original of v. 40.
St. Luke xxii. 40.
prayer. There is the same expression of resignation to the Father's will, coupled now with the conviction that consistently therewith He may not put aside this cup of bitterness. This much they seem now to have heard, but no more; for a more than usual heaviness weighs down their eyelids. They are indeed ashamed of it; for when He returns after a while, though He seems to have uttered no word of reproach, they make no excuse. A third time He withdraws, and prays in the same words; and when He finally rises up from prayer, and finds them still sleeping for sorrow,3 overmastered by their grief, He first bids them rise up from sleep and pray, as He had urged them twice before,1 lest they yield to temptation, and fail in the hour of trial which is at hand. Then, changing His tone, in a sort of gentle irony He gives them leave to sleep and rest if they will; as though the fight were over, and the battle won. The expected hour is come," and the sentinels have given no notice of its approach. No watchfulness now on their part can rescue Him, had He desired it, from the betrayer. The deed is done. The Son of God who for us became man is in the hand of sinners. He bids them rise up from the ground on which they were still lying, and invites them to go with Him to meet the foe.
St. Matthew xxvi. 47-50 (former clause).
And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people. Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he hold him fast. And forthwith he came to Jesus,
1 St. Mark xiv. 39.
St. Luke xxii. 45.
St. Luke xxii. 40; St. Matt. xxvi.
5 St. Mark xiv. 41.
and said, Hail, master; and kissed him. And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come?
We see now how Judas, the Apostate, had been employed, all the while his Lord, with whom he should have continued,1 was engaged in instructing and praying for the rest. He deserts the Apostolic band, of which he had been the unfaithful almoner,2 to enlist in another band,3 to act as pilot to the Roman soldiers, put on such occasions as the present Paschal-tide at the disposal of the Jewish Council, together with certain creatures ready for filthy lucre's sake to do any deed of darkness. These were supplied him by the Chiefpriests and Scribes 5 and Pharisees, mutual enemies indeed, yet still more hostile to Jesus, and so ready to waive their differences in hunting down the common object of their hate. Judas knew the place. He guessed where He was to be found. The wolf knows the haunt of the lamb. Thither the Lord had often led him with the rest, if haply He might win his heart, and wean him from a world on which, like Lot's wife, he was ever looking back, and cure him of his fatal covetousness. The lanterns and torches,3 with which this band was provided, prove the preparations made to explore any cave or corner where the object of their search might possibly, they conceived, be hidden; and which even the moon's light, then at the full, might not penetrate. All this gives us a glimpse of the dreadful deliberation which planned the deed of shame. Judas went before. In the nervous haste, engendered of his crime, he seems to have gone too fast, and given the preconcerted signal before its time; before the rest of the band, who failed to keep pace with him, could well come up. Cold was his address, how
1 St. Luke xxii. 28; St. John xiii. 30.
2 St. John xii. 6; xiii. 29. 3 St. John xviii. 3.
The word officers will not convey an adequate meaning of the original word to an English mind. The idea of officer in the higher military sense of the term must be altogether excluded. Neither will servants in the
modern acceptation of the term ac-
Compare St. Matt. xxvi.