|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
22:39-46 Every description which the evangelists give of the state of mind in which our Lord entered upon this conflict, proves the tremendous nature of the assault, and the perfect foreknowledge of its terrors possessed by the meek and lowly Jesus. Here are three things not in the other evangelists. 1. When Christ was in his agony, there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. It was a part of his humiliation that he was thus strengthened by a ministering spirit. 2. Being in agony, he prayed more earnestly. Prayer, though never out of season, is in a special manner seasonable when we are in an agony. 3. In this agony his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down. This showed the travail of his soul. We should pray also to be enabled to resist unto the shedding of our blood, striving against sin, if ever called to it. When next you dwell in imagination upon the delights of some favourite sin, think of its effects as you behold them here! See its fearful effects in the garden of Gethsemane, and desire, by the help of God, deeply to hate and to forsake that enemy, to ransom sinners from whom the Redeemer prayed, agonized, and bled.
Verses 45, 46. - He found them sleeping for sorrow, and said unto them, Why sleep ye rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The events of the past evening; the long excitement stirred up by listening to such words as their Master had been speaking to them during the sad hours of the Last Supper; the sure consciousness of coming sorrow; then the walk through the silent city: - all predisposed them to sleep. Commentators are never weary with pressing these excuses for the slumber of the eleven at that awful moment. But all these things, though they may well have predisposed them to slumber, are not sufficient to account for that strange heavy sleep which seems to have paralyzed the eleven in Gethsemane. In spite of their Master's solemn injunction to watch and pray, he finds them, several times during that dreadful watch of his in the garden, asleep, in spite of his asking them for sympathy and prayer, in spite of his evident longing for their sympathy - each time he cast his eyes on them, he sees them, not watching, but sleeping! Many a time in their work-filled lives those fishermen he loved so well, John and Peter and Andrew, had toiled all night with their nets; but on this night of sorrow, when their pleading voices were listened for, possibly their hand-press waited for, their silent sympathy certainly longed for, they slept, seemingly forgetful of all save their own ease and comfort. Surely on this night of temptation they were influenced by some invisible power, who lulled them to sleep during those precious moments when they should have been agonizing with their Master in prayer, and so arming themselves against the supreme moment of temptation just coming upon them. But swayed by the power of evil of whom the Lord had been warning them, but in vain, they let the moments slip by, and the hour of temptation came on them unawares. We know how grievously they all fell.
"'Forsake the Christ thou sawest transfigured! him
Who trod the sea and brought the dead to life?
What should wring this from thee?' - ye laugh and ask.
What wrung it? Even a torchlight and a noise,
The sudden Roman faces, violent hands,
And fear of what the Jews might do! Just that;
And it is written, 'I forsook and fled:'
There was my trial, and it ended thus ."
(Browning, 'A Death in the Desert.')
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And when he rose from prayer,.... The Syriac version reads, "from his prayer", having finished it; and the Persic and Ethiopic versions read, "from the place of prayer", or where he prayed:
and was come to his disciples; to the three, which he had left about the distance of a stone's cast:
he found them sleeping for sorrow; on his account; for he had signified unto them, how exceeding sorrowful he was; and they might perceive by his looks and gestures, the anxiety and distress of mind he was in, which must needs affect them; and besides, he had given them some intimations of his being to be betrayed by one of them, and of his sufferings and death, and speedy departure from them; and because of these things, sorrow had filled their hearts, and this had induced heaviness and sleep upon them; See Gill on Matthew 26:40.
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