“And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.” (Joh 17:19)
Texts: John 18:1–2; Mark 14:32–34
When Jesus had spoken these words, He went out with His disciples over the Brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which He and His disciples entered. And Judas, who betrayed Him, also knew the place; for Jesus often met there with His disciples. … Then they came to a place which was named Gethsemane; and He said to His disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” And He took Peter, James, and John with Him, and He began to be troubled and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch.”
They came to “Gethsemane.” The name means “oil press” and here is He who “trod the winepress alone” (Isa 63:3). The disciples were to stay at the entrance of the garden. Only three were to go farther with Him into Gethsemane: Peter, who considers himself more willing than the others to die with Him, and the sons of Zebedee, who had said that they could drink the cup that He should drink (Mar 14:31; 10:38-39). But when the Father wanted to leave Him alone and let the awful storms come over Him, then none, not even one of these three, should or could follow there. He was to be without comfort and without help. He was to suffer alone the pain of death for the whole world: condemnation in our place. He and He alone was to taste death for us all. And now the time has come, now Satan had permission to advance against Him with all the terror of the prince of death and hell. Then He began to be troubled and deeply distressed. Just as in the last judgment the ungodly shall tremble comfortless and in unspeakable torment shudder at what comes from the lips of the Judge, and then enter their endless condemnation, that’s what the trembling Savior felt now. Only in the day of the Last Judgment will it be revealed to us what Jesus suffered in Gethsemane. Battling with the terrors of hell and death His troubled soul was distressed in silence and He sustained Himself with the psalms that echoed His painful lament: “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death” (Psa 22:15; 40:13).
It is my death and yours He feels. It is the sin of the world which presses Him down to the ground. God’s only-begotten Son, the holy and righteous One, lies here in the dust with tears and crying and feeling no comfort. In unutterably agonizing terror, in all kinds of unutterable pain of death He writhes like a worm on the ground. “He was bruised for our iniquities” (Isa 53:5). The Father now delivers His Son to condemnation in our place, so the prince of hell may do to Him according to what he wishes and according to what we deserve. It is the death of fallen, ungodly, lost, and condemned mankind, the death of all sinners, that comes upon this pure Lamb. O how His heart is spent with sorrow, how His soul is terrorized, when He alone must descend into the deepest pains of hell’s eternal condemnation!
Lord Jesus, what shall I say? I have no words; I have no heart that is worthy of You. But You shall be greatly praised in all eternity also by me, whom You redeemed so dearly. Amen.
Over Kedron Jesus treadeth
To His passion for us all;
Every human eye be weeping,
Tears of bitter grief let fall!
Round His spirit flock the foes,
Place their shafts and bend their bows,
Aiming at the Savior solely,
While the world forsakes Him wholly.
All of Jesus’ limbs are quaking
As sins’ burden hard doth press
See the God-Man ever shaking
Death doth bring to life distress
Jesus’ lifeblood forth doth pour
And His heart aches more and more
Shooting forth with blood-streams narrow
From ten thousand poisoned arrows.
Kingo L 317:1, 4 ELH 295:1 tr. J. Jeffry and DeGarmeaux;
tune: Over Kedron