And they came to a place which was named Gethsemane: and he said to his disciples, Sit you here, while I shall pray.…
It is beyond our power to ascertain the precise amount of suffering sustained by our Lord; for a mystery necessarily encircles the person of Jesus, in which two natures are combined. This mystery may ever prevent our knowing how His humanity was sustained by His divinity. Still, undoubtedly, the general representation of Scripture would lead to the conclusion, that though He was absolute God, with every power and prerogative of Deity, yet was Christ, as man, left to the same conflicts, and dependent on the same assistances as any of His followers. He differed, indeed, immeasurably, in that He was conceived without the taint of original sin, and therefore was free from our evil propensities: He lived the life of faith which He worked out for Himself, and He lived it to gain for us a place in His Father's kingdom. Although He was actually to meet affliction like a man, He was left without any external support from above. This is very remarkably shown by His agony in the garden, when an angel was sent to strengthen Him. Wonderful that a Divine person should have craved assistance, and that He did not draw on His own inexhaustible resources! But, it was as a man that He grappled with the powers of darkness — as a man who could receive no celestial aid. And, if this be a true interpretation of the mode in which our Lord met persecution and death, we must be right, in contrasting Him with martyrs, when we assert an immeasurable difference between His sufferings, and those of men who have died nobly for the truth: from Him the light of the Father's countenance was withdrawn, whilst unto them it was conspicuously displayed. This may explain why Christ was confounded and overwhelmed, where others had been serene and undaunted. Still, the question arises, — Why was Christ thus deserted of the Father? Why were those comforts and supports withheld from Him which have been frequently vouchsafed to His followers? No doubt it is a surprising as well as a piteous spectacle that of our Lord shrinking from the anguish of what should befall Him, whilst others have faced death, in its most frightful forms, with unruffled composure. You never can account for this, except by acknowledging that our Lord was no ordinary man, meeting death as a mere witness for truth, but that he was actually a sin offering; bearing the weight of the world's iniquities. His agony — His doleful cries — His sweating, as it were, great drops of blood; these are not to be explained on the supposition of His being merely an innocent man, hunted down by fierce and unrelenting enemies. Had He been only this, why should He be apparently so excelled in confidence and composure by a long line of martyrs and confessors? Christ wad more than this. Though He had done no sin, yet was He in the place of the sinful, bearing the weight of Divine indignation, and made to feel the terrors of Divine wrath. Innocent, He was treated as guilty! He had made Himself the substitute of the guilty — hence His anguish and terror. Bear in mind, that the sufferer who exhibits, as you might think, so much less of composure and firmness than has been evinced by many when called on to die for truth — bear in mind, that this sufferer has had a world's iniquity laid on His shoulders; that God is now dealing with Him as the representative of apostate man, and exacting from Him the penalties due to unnumbered transgressions; and you will cease to wonder though you may still almost shudder at words, so expressive of agony — "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death."
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And they came to a place which was named Gethsemane: and he saith to his disciples, Sit ye here, while I shall pray.