Mark 14:32
And they came to a place which was named Gethsemane: and he saith to his disciples, Sit ye here, while I shall pray.
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(32) While I shall pray.—Literally, till I shall have prayed.



Mark 14:32 - Mark 14:42

The three who saw Christ’s agony in Gethsemane were so little affected that they slept. We have to beware of being so little affected that we speculate and seek to analyse rather than to bow adoringly before that mysterious and heart-subduing sight. Let us remember that the place is ‘holy ground.’ It was meant that we should look on the Christ who prayed ‘with strong crying and tears,’ else the three sleepers would not have accompanied Him so far; but it was meant that our gaze should be reverent and from a distance, else they would have gone with Him into the shadow of the olives.

‘Gethsemane’ means ‘an oil-press.’ It was an enclosed piece of ground, according to Matthew and Mark; a garden, according to John. Jesus, by some means, had access to it, and had ‘oft-times resorted thither with His disciples.’ To this familiar spot, with its many happy associations, Jesus led the disciples, who would simply expect to pass the night there, as many Passover visitors were accustomed to bivouac in the open air.

The triumphant tone of spirit which animated His assuring words to His disciples, ‘I have overcome the world,’ changed as they passed through the moonlight down to the valley, and when they reached the garden deep gloom lay upon Him. His agitation is pathetically and most naturally indicated by the conflict of feeling as to companionship. He leaves the other disciples at the entrance, for He would fain be alone in His prayer. Then, a moment after, He bids the three, who had been on the Mount of Transfiguration and with Him at many other special times, accompany Him into the recesses of the garden. But again need of solitude overcomes longing for companionship, and He bids them stay where they were, while He plunges still further into the shadow. How human it is! How well all of us, who have been down into the depths of sorrow, know the drawing of these two opposite longings! Scripture seldom undertakes to tell Christ’s emotions. Still seldomer does He speak of them. But at this tremendous hour the veil is lifted by one corner, and He Himself is fain to relieve His bursting heart by pathetic self-revelation, which is in fact an appeal to the three for sympathy, as well as an evidence of His sharing the common need of lightening the burdened spirit by speech. Mark’s description of Christ’s feelings lays stress first on their beginning, and then on their nature as being astonishment and anguish. A wave of emotion swept over Him, and was in marked contrast with His previous demeanour.

The three had never seen their calm Master so moved. We feel that such agitation is profoundly unlike the serenity of the rest of His life, and especially remarkable if contrasted with the tone of John’s account of His discourse in the upper room; and, if we are wise, we shall gaze on that picture drawn for us by Mark with reverent gratitude, and feel that we look at something more sacred than human trembling at the thought of death.

Our Lord’s own infinitely touching words heighten the impression of the Evangelist’s ‘My soul is exceeding sorrowful,’ or, as the word literally means, ‘ringed round with sorrow.’ A dark orb of distress encompassed Him, and there was nowhere a break in the gloom which shut Him in. And this is He who, but an hour before, had bequeathed His ‘joy’ to His servants, and had bidden them ‘be of good cheer,’ since He had ‘conquered the world.’

Dare we ask what were the elements of that all-enveloping horror of great darkness? Reverently we may. That astonishment and distress no doubt were partly due to the recoil of flesh from death. But if that was their sole cause, Jesus has been surpassed in heroism, not only by many a martyr who drew his strength from Him, but by many a rude soldier and by many a criminal. No! The waters of the baptism with which He was baptized had other sources than that, though it poured a tributary stream into them.

We shall not understand Gethsemane at all, nor will it touch our hearts and wills as it is meant to do, unless, as we look, we say in adoring wonder, ‘The Lord hath made to meet on Him the iniquity of us all.’ It was the weight of the world’s sin which He took on Him by willing identification of Himself with men, that pressed Him to the ground. Nothing else than the atoning character of Christ’s sufferings explains so far as it can be explained, the agony which we are permitted to behold afar off.

How nearly that agony was fatal is taught us by His own word ‘unto death,’ A little more, and He would have died. Can we retain reverence for Jesus as a perfect and pattern man, in view of His paroxysm of anguish in Gethsemane, if we refuse to accept that explanation? Truly was the place named ‘The Olive-press,’ for in it His whole being was as if in the press, and another turn of the screw would have crushed Him.

Darkness ringed Him round, but there was a rift in it right overhead. Prayer was His refuge, as it must be ours. The soul that can cry, ‘Abba, Father!’ does not walk in unbroken night. His example teaches us what our own sorrows should also teach us-to betake ourselves to prayer when the spirit is desolate. In that wonderful prayer we reverently note three things: there is unbroken consciousness of the Father’s love; there is the instinctive recoil of flesh and the sensitive nature from the suffering imposed; and there is the absolute submission of the will, which silences the remonstrance of flesh. Whatever the weight laid on Jesus by His bearing of the sins of the world, it did not take from Him the sense of sonship. But, on the other hand, that sense did not take from Him the consciousness that the world’s sin lay upon Him. In like manner His cry on the Cross mysteriously blended the sense of communion with God and of abandonment by God. Into these depths we see but a little way, and adoration is better than speculation.

Jesus shrank from ‘this cup,’ in which so many bitter ingredients besides death were mingled, such as treachery, desertion, mocking, rejection, exposure to ‘the contradiction of sinners.’ There was no failure of purpose in that recoil, for the cry for exemption was immediately followed by complete submission to the Father’s will. No perturbation in the lower nature ever caused His fixed resolve to waver. The needle always pointed to the pole, however the ship might pitch and roll. A prayer in which ‘remove this from me’ is followed by that yielding ‘nevertheless’ is always heard. Christ’s was heard, for calmness came back, and His flesh was stilled and made ready for the sacrifice.

So He could rejoin the three, in whose sympathy and watchfulness He had trusted-and they all were asleep! Surely that was one ingredient of bitterness in His cup. We wonder at their insensibility; and how they must have wondered at it too, when after years taught them what they had lost, and how faithless they had been! Think of men who could have seen and heard that scene, which has drawn the worshipping regard of the world ever since, missing it all because they fell asleep! They had kept awake long enough to see Him fall on the ground and to hear His prayer, but, worn out by a long day of emotion and sorrow, they slept.

Jesus was probably rapt in prayer for a considerable time, perhaps for a literal ‘hour.’ He was specially touched by Peter’s failure, so sadly contrasted with his confident professions in the upper room; but no word of blame escaped Him. Rather He warned them of swift-coming temptation, which they could only overcome by watchfulness and prayer. It was indeed near, for the soldiers would burst in, before many minutes had passed, polluting the moonlight with their torches and disturbing the quiet night with their shouts. What gracious allowance for their weakness and loving recognition of the disciples’ imperfect good lie in His words, which are at once an excuse for their fault and an enforcement of His command to watch and pray! ‘The flesh is weak,’ and hinders the willing spirit from doing what it wills. It was an apology for the slumber of the three; it is a merciful statement of the condition under which all discipleship has to be carried on. ‘He knoweth our frame.’ Therefore we all need to watch and pray, since only by such means can weak flesh be strengthened and strong flesh weakened, or the spirit preserved in willingness.

The words were not spoken in reference to Himself, but in a measure were true of Him. His second withdrawal for prayer seems to witness that the victory won by the first supplication was not permanent. Again the anguish swept over His spirit in another foaming breaker, and again He sought solitude, and again He found tranquillity-and again returned to find the disciples asleep. ‘They knew not what to answer Him’ in extenuation of their renewed dereliction.

Yet a third time the struggle was renewed. And after that, He had no need to return to the seclusion, where He had fought, and now had conclusively conquered by prayer and submission. We too may, by the same means, win partial victories over self, which may be interrupted by uprisings of flesh; but let us persevere. Twice Jesus’ calm was broken by recrudescence of horror and shrinking; the third time it came back, to abide through all the trying scenes of the passion, but for that one cry on the Cross, ‘Why hast Thou forsaken Me?’ So it may be with us.

The last words to the three have given commentators much trouble. ‘Sleep on now, and take your rest,’ is not so much irony as ‘spoken with a kind of permissive force, and in tones in which merciful reproach was blended with calm resignation.’ So far as He was concerned, there was no reason for their waking. But they had lost an opportunity, never to return, of helping Him in His hour of deepest agony. He needed them no more. And do not we in like manner often lose the brightest opportunities of service by untimely slumber of soul, and is not ‘the irrevocable past’ saying to many of us, ‘Sleep on now since you can no more do what you have let slip from your drowsy hands’? ‘It is enough’ is obscure, but probably refers to the disciples’ sleep, and prepares for the transition to the next words, which summon them to arise, not to help Him by watching, but to meet the traitor. They had slept long enough, He sadly says. That which will effectually end their sleepiness is at hand. How completely our Lord had regained His calm superiority to the horror which had shaken Him is witnessed by that majestic ‘Let us be going.’ He will go out to meet the traitor, and, after one flash of power, which smote the soldiers to the ground, will yield Himself to the hands of sinners.

The Man who lay prone in anguish beneath the olive-trees comes forth in serene tranquillity, and gives Himself up to the death for us all. His agony was endured for us, and needs for its explanation the fact that it was so. His victory through prayer was for us, that we too might conquer by the same weapons. His voluntary surrender was for us, that ‘by His stripes we might be healed.’ Surely we shall not sleep, as did these others, but, moved by His sorrows and animated by His victory, watch and pray that we may share in the virtue of His sufferings and imitate the example of His submission.

Mark 14:32-38. They came to Gethsemane — For an explanation of these verses see the notes on Matthew 26:36-39. And began to be sore amazed — Greek, εκθαμβεισθαι, to be in a consternation. The word implies the most shocking mixture of terror and amazement: the next word, αδημονειν, which we render, to be very heavy, signifies to be quite depressed, and almost overwhelmed with the load: and the word περιλυπος, in the next verse, which we translate exceeding sorrowful, implies, that he was surrounded with sorrow on every side, breaking in upon him with such violence, that, humanly speaking, there was no way to escape. Dr. Doddridge paraphrases the passage thus: “He began to be in very great amazement and anguish of mind, on account of some painful and dreadful sensations, which were then impressed on his soul by the immediate hand of God. Then, turning to his three disciples, he says, My soul is surrounded on all sides with an extremity of anguish and sorrow, which tortures me even almost to death; and I know that the infirmity of human nature must quickly sink under it without some extraordinary relief from God. While, therefore, I apply to him, do you continue here and watch.” Dr. Whitby supposes, that these agonies of our Lord did not arise from the immediate hand of God upon him, but from a deep apprehension of the malignity of sin, and the misery brought on the world by it. But, considering how much the mind of Christ was wounded and broken with what he now endured, so as to give some greater external signs of distress than in any other circumstance of his sufferings, there is reason to conclude, there was something extraordinary in the degree of the impression; which in all probability was from the Father’s immediate agency, laying on him the chastisement of our peace, or making his soul an offering for our sins. See Isaiah 53:5; Isaiah 53:10. He went forward a little — Luke says, about a stone’s cast, and fell on the ground — Matthew, fell on his face, and prayed that the hour might pass from him — That dreadful season of sorrow, with which he was then almost overwhelmed, and which did pass from him soon after. And he said, Abba, Father — That is, Father, Father: or, perhaps, the word Father is added by Mark, by way of interpreting the Syriac word, Abba. All things are possible unto thee — All things proper to be done. Take away this cup from me — This cup of bitter distress. Nothing is more common than to express a portion of comfort or distress by a cup, alluding to the custom of the father of a family, or master of a feast, sending to his children or guests a cup of such liquor as he designed for them. Nevertheless, not what I will, but what thou wilt — As if he had said, If thou seest it necessary to continue it, or to add yet more grievous ingredients to it, I am here ready to receive it in submission to thy will; for though nature cannot but shrink back from these sufferings, it is my determinate purpose to bear whatsoever thine infinite wisdom shall see fit to appoint. And he cometh, &c. — Rising up from the ground, on which he had lain prostrate: he returns to the three disciples; and findeth them sleeping — Notwithstanding the deep distress he was in, and the solemn injunction he had given them to watch; and saith unto Peter — The zealous, the confident Peter! Simon, sleepest thou? — Dost thou sleep at such a time as this, and after thou hast just declared thy resolution to die with me? dost thou so soon forget thy promise to stand by me, as not so much as to keep awake and watch one hour? Hast thou strength to die with me, who canst not watch so little awhile with me? Watch ye and pray — Ye also, who were so ready to join with Peter in the same profession; lest ye enter into temptation — Lest ye fall by the grievous trial which is now at hand, and of which I have repeatedly warned you. Observe, reader, watching and praying are means absolutely necessary to be used, if we wish to stand in the hour of trial. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak — I know your mind and will are well inclined to obey me, but your experience may convince you, that your nature is very weak, and your resolutions, however sincere and strong, easily borne down and broken. Every one is apt to flatter himself, when he is out of danger, that he can easily withstand temptations; but without prayer and particular watchfulness the passions are wont to prevail over reason, and the flesh to counteract the motions of the Spirit. It is justly observed by Archbishop Tillotson, (Sermons, vol. 2. p. 435,) that “so gentle a rebuke, and so kind an apology as we here read, were the more remarkable, as our Lord’s mind was now discomposed with sorrow, so that he must have had the deeper and tenderer sense of the unkindness of his friends. And, alas! how apt are we, in general, to think affliction an excuse for peevishness, and how unlike are we to Christ in that thought, and how unkind to ourselves, as well as our friends, to whom, in such circumstances, with our best temper, we must be more troublesome than we could wish.”

14:32-42 Christ's sufferings began with the sorest of all, those in his soul. He began to be sorely amazed; words not used in St. Matthew, but very full of meaning. The terrors of God set themselves in array against him, and he allowed him to contemplate them. Never was sorrow like unto his at this time. Now he was made a curse for us; the curses of the law were laid upon him as our Surety. He now tasted death, in all the bitterness of it. This was that fear of which the apostle speaks, the natural fear of pain and death, at which human nature startles. Can we ever entertain favourable, or even slight thoughts of sin, when we see the painful sufferings which sin, though but reckoned to him, brought on the Lord Jesus? Shall that sit light upon our souls, which sat so heavy upon his? Was Christ in such agony for our sins, and shall we never be in agony about them? How should we look upon Him whom we have pierced, and mourn! It becomes us to be exceedingly sorrowful for sin, because He was so, and never to mock at it. Christ, as Man, pleaded, that, if it were possible, his sufferings might pass from him. As Mediator, he submitted to the will of God, saying, Nevertheless, not what I will, but what thou wilt; I bid it welcome. See how the sinful weakness of Christ's disciples returns, and overpowers them. What heavy clogs these bodies of ours are to our souls! But when we see trouble at the door, we should get ready for it. Alas, even believers often look at the Redeemer's sufferings in a drowsy manner, and instead of being ready to die with Christ, they are not even prepared to watch with him one hour.See the notes at Matthew 26:36-46.Mr 14:32-42. The Agony in the Garden. ( = Mt 26:36-46; Lu 22:39-46).

See on [1507]Lu 22:39-46.

Ver. 32-42. See Poole on "Matthew 26:36", and following verses to Matthew 26:46.

And they came to a place which is named Gethsemane,.... At the foot of the Mount of Olives, where the olives, which grew in great plenty on the mount, were pressed: and where our Lord began to be bruised, for our sins:

and be saith to his disciples: to eight of them:

sit ye here while I shall pray; at some distance from hence; See Gill on Matthew 26:36.

(10) And they came to a place which was named Gethsemane: and he saith to his disciples, Sit ye here, while I shall pray.

(10) Christ suffering for us the most horrible terrors of the curse of God, in that flesh which he took upon him for our sakes, receives the cup from his Father's hands, which he being just, drinks right away for the unjust.

Mark 14:32-42. Comp. on Matthew 26:36-46. Comp. Luke 22:40-46.

Mark 14:33. ἐκθαμβεῖσθαι] used in this place of the anguish (otherwise at Mark 9:15). The word occurs in the N. T. only in Mark, who uses strongly graphic language. Comp. Mark 16:5-6. Matthew, with more psychological suitableness, has λυπεῖσθαι.

ἕως θανάτου] See on Matthew 26:38, and comp. Sir 37:2; Clem. 1 Corinthians 4 : ζῆλος ἐποίησεν Ἰωσὴφ μέχρι θανάτου διωχθῆναι, Test. XII. Patr. p. 520.

παρέλθῃ ἀπʼ αὐτοῦ] Comp. Test. XII. Patr. p. 527: ηὔξατοἵνα παρέλθῃ ἀπʼ ἐμοῦ ἡ ὀργὴ κυρίου.

ἡ ὥρα] the hour κατʼ ἐξοχήν, hora fatalis. It passes over from the man, when the latter is spared from undergoing its destiny.

Mark 14:36. Ἀββᾶ] אֵבָּא; so spoke Jesus in prayer to His Father. This mode of address assumed among the Greek-speaking Christians the nature of a proper name, and the fervour of the feeling of childship added, moreover, the appellative address ὁ πατήρ,—a juxtaposition, which gradually became so hallowed by usage that here Mark even places it in the very mouth of Jesus, which is an involuntary Hysteron proteron. The usual view, that ὁ πατήρ is an addition by way of interpreting, is quite out of place in the fervent address of prayer. See on Romans 8:15. Against the objections of Fritzsche, see on Galatians 4:6.

παρένεγκε] carry away past. Hahn was wrong, Theol. d. N. T. I. p. 209 f, in deducing from the passage (and from Luke 22:24) that Jesus had been tempted by His σάρξ. Every temptation came to Him from without. But in this place He gives utterance only to His purely human feeling, and that with unconditional subordination to God, whereby there is exhibited even in that very feeling His μὴ γνῶναι ἁμαρτίαν, which is incompatible with incitements to sin from His own σάρξ.

ἀλλʼ οὐ] The following interrogative τί shows how the utterance emotionally broken off is here to be completed. Hence somewhat in this way: but there comes not into question, not: ἀλλʼ οὐ γενέσθω.

Mark 14:41. καθεύδετε λοιπὸν κ.τ.λ.] as at Matthew 26:45, painful irony: sleep on now, and take your rest! Hardly has Jesus thus spoken when He sees Judas approach with his band (Mark 14:42-43). Then His mood of painful irony breaks off, and with urgent earnestness He now goes on in hasty, unconnected exclamations: there is enough (of sleep)! the hour is come! see, the Son of man is delivered into the hands of sinners! arise, let us go (to meet this decisive crisis)! see, my betrayer is at hand! It is only this view of ἀπέχει, according to which it refers to the sleep of the disciples, that corresponds to the immediate connection with what goes before (καθεύδετε κ.τ.λ.) and follows; and how natural is the change of mood, occasioned by the approaching betrayers! All the more original is the representation. Comp. Erasmus, Bengel (“suas jam peractas habet sopor vices; nunc alia res est”), Kuinoel, Ewald, Bleek. Hence it is not: there is enough of watching (Hammond, Fritzsche). The usus loquendi of ἀπέχει, sufficit (Vulgate), depends on the passages, which certainly are only few and late, but certain, (pseudo-) Anacreon, xxviii. 33; Cyrill. in Hagg. ii. 9, even although the gloss of Hesychius: ἀπέχει, ἀπόχρη, ἐξαρκεῖ, is critically very uncertain.[166] Others interpret at variance with linguistic usage: abest, sc. anxictas mea (see Heumann, Thiess), or the betrayer (Bornemann in the Stud. u. Krit. 1843, p. 103 f.); ἀπέχειν, in fact, does not mean the being removed in itself, but denotes the distance (Xen. Anab. iv. 3. 5; Polyb. i. 19. 5; 2Ma 11:5; 2Ma 12:29). Lange also is linguistically wrong in rendering: “it is all over with it,” it will do no longer. The comparison of οὐδὲν ἀπέχει, nothing stands in the way,—in which, in fact, ἀπέχει, is not intransitive, but active,—is altogether irrelevant.

[166] See Buttmann in the Stud. u. Krit. 1858, p. 506. He would leave ἀπέχει without any idea to complete it, and that in the sense: it is accomplished, it is the time of fulfilment, the end is come, just as Grotius, ad Matthew 26:45 (peractum est), and as the codex Brixiensis has, adest finis, while D and min. add to ἀπέχει: τὸ τέλος. The view deserves consideration. Still the usual it is enough is more in keeping with the empirical use, as it is preserved in the two passages of Anacreon and Cyril; moreover, it gives rise to a doubt in the matter, that Jesus should have spoken a word equivalent to the τετέλεσται of John 19:30 even now, when the consummation was only just beginning.

Mark 14:32-42. In Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-46, Luke 22:40-46).

32. And they came] They would pass through one of the city gates, “open that night as it was Passover,” down the steep side of the Kidron (John 18:1), and coming by the bridge, they went onwards towards

a place which was named Gethsemane] The word Gethsemane means “the Oil-Press.” It was a garden (John 18:1) or an olive orchard on the slope of Olivet, and doubtless contained a press to crush the olives, which grew in profusion all around. Thither St John tells us our Lord was often wont to resort (John 18:2), and Judas “knew the place.” Though at a sufficient distance from public thoroughfares to secure privacy, it was yet apparently easy of access. For a description of the traditional site see Stanley’s Sinai and Palestine, p. 455.

32–42. The Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane

Verse 32. - And they come (ἔρχονται) - here again St. Mark's present gives force to the narrative - unto a place which was named Gethsemane. A place (χωρίον) is, literally, an enclosed piece of ground, generally with a cottage upon it. Josephus tells us that these gardens were numerous in the suburbs of Jerusalem. St. Jerome says that "Gethsemane was at the foot of the Mount of Olives." St. John (John 18:1) calls it a garden, or orchard (κῆπος). The word "Gethsemane" means literally "the place of the olive-press," whither the olives which abounded on the slopes of the mountain were brought, in order that the oil contained in them might be pressed out. The exact position of Gethsemane is not known; although there is an enclosed spot at the foot of the western slope of the Mount of Olives which is called to this day El maniye. The real Gethsemane cannot be far from this spot. Our Lord resorted to this place for retirement and prayer, not as desiring to escape the death that awaited him. It was well known to be his favourite resort; so that he went there, as though to put himself in the way of Judas, who would naturally seek him there. Sit ye here, while I pray. St. Matthew (Matthew 26:36) says, "While I go yonder and pray." Mark 14:32Gethsemane

See on Matthew 26:36.

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