One of Philip Bliss’s beautiful hymns contains the words,
Man of sorrows, what a name, For the Son of God who came, Ruined sinners to reclaim! Hallelujah, what a Savior!
The hymn writer borrowed his description of Christ from Isaiah, who predicted that the Messiah would be “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isa. 53:3).
There is no record in Scripture of Jesus’ laughing, but there are numerous accounts of His grieving, His sadness, and even His weeping:
- He wept at the grave of Lazarus (John 11:35)
- He wept over Jerusalem at the time of His triumphal entry (Luke 19:41).
Matthew 26:36-46 reveals three aspects of Jesus’ striving in the garden: His sorrow, His supplication, and His strength. And in clear contrast to their Lord’s unremitting struggle we see also the disciples’ indifferent lethargy
36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.”
37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled.
38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
“Jesus had often met there with His disciples,” and it was that fact that enabled Judas to find Him so easily later that night (John 18:2).
Luke 22:42-71 (NIV) 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.
2 Corinthians 5: 21 (NIV) God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Hebrews 5:7 (NIV) During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.
39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter.
41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”
42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”
43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy.
44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.
45 Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting?
“I lay down My life that I may take it again,” He explained to the unbelieving Pharisees “No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again” (John 10:17-18).
As always with Jesus, the determining consideration was God’s will. “I did not speak on My own initiative,” He declared, “but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me commandment, what to say and what to speak” (John 12:49; cf. 14:31; 17:8).
The need for spiritual vigilance is not occasional but constant. Jesus was warning His disciples to be discerning enough to know they were in spiritual warfare and to be prepared by God to resist the adversary. He was warning them of the danger of self-confidence, which produces spiritual drowsiness.
Matthew 26:45-46 (NIV) Mt 45 (NIV) Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour is near, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise, let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”
With the courage of invincibility, Jesus had made the ultimate and final act of commitment to His heavenly Father, who He knew would raise Him from the dead on the third day. As He moved toward the crowd who came to arrest Him, He also resolutely moved toward the cross. “For the joy set before Him [He] endured the cross, despising the shame” (Heb. 12:2).
Matthew 26:36-46 gives the pattern and sequence of spiritual tragedy, which may be summarized in the words: confidence, sleep, temptation, sin, and disaster.
- Self-confidence always opens the door to temptation. The first step of a believer’s falling into sin is false confidence that he is able to be faithful to the Lord in his own power. Like the disciples on the Mount of Olives, he is certain he would never forsake Christ or compromise His Word.
- Following self-confidence comes sleep, representing indifference to evil and lack of moral and spiritual vigilance. The sleeping believer has little concern for what he reads or listens to, even when it is clearly unchristian and debasing.
- The third step is temptation, which Satan’s system is constantly ready to place in the way of God’s people. As with Jesus, the temptation appeals to one’s personal rights and calls for rebellion against God.
- The fourth step is sin, because a believer who is spiritually self-confident, who is indifferent to sin, and who does not turn to the Lord for help will inevitably fall into sin. No person, not even a Christian, has the capacity within himself to withstand Satan and avoid sin.
- The fifth and final stage in the sequence is disaster. Just as temptation that is not resisted in God’s power always leads to sin, sin that is not confessed and cleansed leads to spiritual tragedy.
But this passage also contains the pattern for spiritual victory, manifested and exemplified by Jesus. The way of victory rather than tragic defeat:
- confidence in God rather than self
- moral and spiritual vigilance rather than indifference
- resisting temptation in God’s power rather than in our own
- and holding to obedience rather than to the rebellion of sin.