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Garden Of Gethsemane

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MATTHEW 26:36-46  

This is the last pericope in which the earthly Jesus is together with his disciples.

§         Matthew has introduced the events of the betrayal of Jesus [26:14-16] and the denial of Jesus [26:31-35].

§         Matthew has given the account of the Lord’s Supper [26:17-30].

The inner core, Peter, James, and John, are unable to watch and pray in support of the trial of the soul through which Jesus passes. And thus again [26:8-9] the disciples are portrayed as failures.

  1. THE LOCATION

1.        The Garden  

Then Jesus comes with them “unto a place called Gethsemane…” [26:36].

§         Γεθσημανὶ - “Gethsemane” [26:36], from a Hebrew word which means ‘oil press’; ‘name of an olive orchard located across the Kidron valley on the lower slopes of the Mount of Olives’;

a.        A Familiar Place

This was a favourite meeting place for Jesus: “he went as he was wont…” [Luk.22:39].

§         ἔθος - “wont” [22:39], ‘custom, practice, habit’;

§         ὄρος ἐλαιῶνἐλαιῶν- “Olives” [22:39], ‘a high ridge lying east of Jerusalem, parallel to the city and separated from it by the Valley of the Kidron’;

§         A place often frequented by Jesus: “Jesus often met there with his disciples” [Joh.18:2].

2.        The Shadow of Calvary

Jesus now begins to live in the shadow of Calvary: “the hour is at hand…” [26:45].

§         ὥρα - “hour” [26:45], ‘the occasion, time’;

§         ἤγγικεν - “at hand” [26:45], ‘to come near’;

a.        The Journey  

The idea of the “hour” draws together all the events from Gethsemane to Calvary:

§         The enemy’s hour: “but this is your hour, and the power of darkness” [Luk.22:53].

§         His own hour: “Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father…” [Joh.13:1].

b.        The Preparation

Jesus sees the need to go apart from the main group: “sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder” [26:36].

§         καθίσατε - “sit” [26:36], aorist imperative, ‘settle in a place’;

§         ἕως – “while” [26:36], ‘until’;

§         ἀπελθὼν ἀπελθὼν - “go” [26:36], aorist active participle, ‘go away, depart, withdraw’;

§         προσεύξωμαι - “pray” [26:36], ‘from the preposition prós, ‘to’, and eúchomai, ‘to wish, pray’; ‘to pray to God, offer prayer’;

§         ἐκεῖ - “yonder” [26:36], ‘in that place’;

i.        The Sacrifice of Isaac

The question arises as to whether this statement is under the influence of the trial of Abraham and the sacrifice of Isaac in Genesis 22.

§         In the story of the binding of Isaac, Abraham says to his servants: “abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you” [Gen.22:5].

§         Is Matthew suggesting a parallel between Abraham’s faith and Jesus’ faith? Or between Isaac’s sacrifice and Jesus’ sacrifice.

§         Abraham and Jesus take along three people; both episodes are set on a mountain; each involves trial.

§         The garden of Gethsemane becomes a kind of ‘dressing/changing room’ for position taken up at Calvary.

ii.      The Transaction

There is a transaction implied in Jesus’ prayer: “let this cup pass from me…” [26:39].

§         τὸ ποτήριον τοῦτο - “this cup” [26:39], ‘drinking vessel’; the ‘cup of suffering’.

§         A metaphor for the suffering and death that he was soon to face: “the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation…” [Rev.14:10].

§         The transaction prophesied: “Behold, I have taken out of thine hand the cup of trembling, even the dregs of the cup of my fury…” [Isa.51:17-23].

§         The insight of Jesus: “even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” [20:28].

3.        The Will of God

All that Jesus has done has been in accordance with God’s plan: “your will be done” [26:42].

§         θέλημά σου - “thy will” [26:42], ‘to purpose’; ‘to be ready or willing’; ‘to resolve’;

a.        Jesus’ Resolve

Jesus’ purpose and resolve was to do the will of the Father: “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work” [Joh.4:34].

§         Jesus was here with a mission: “I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me” [Joh.5:30].

§         The purpose of God: “this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day” [Joh.6:39].

Application

This was going to be Jesus’ last period of freedom here on earth…

§         It was the moment of salvation for the world: “even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” [20:28].

§         It came as no surprise to Jesus…

  1. THE TEMPTATION  

1.        The Presence of Temptation

a.        The Fact of Temptation

The area of temptation: “enter not into temptation…” [26:41].

§         μὴ εἰσέλθητε - “enter not” [26:41], from eis, ‘into’, and érchomai, to come’; ‘to go or come into, to enter’;

§         πειρασμόν - “temptation” [26:41], ‘examination’; ‘to submit another to a test to learn the true nature of their character’; ‘trial given for the purpose of making one stumble’;

b.        Jesus’ Ministry

Jesus was surrounded by temptation throughout his ministry:

§         Jesus had begun his ministry confronted with temptation: “when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season” [Luk.4:13].

§         Jesus had faced temptation all of his life: “Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations” [Luk22:28].

2.        The Cause of Temptation

a.        The Willingness

The willingness of the heart: “the spirit indeed is willing…” [26:41].

§         πνεῦμα - “spirit” [26:41], ‘inner being’;

§         πρόθυμον - “willing” [26:41], ‘ready, eager’;

b.        The Weakness

The temptation: “the flesh is weak…” [26:41].

§         σὰρξ - “flesh” [26:41], ‘physical body’; ‘human nature’;

§         ἀσθενής - “weak” [26:41], ‘unable, pertaining to a state of limited capacity’;

Jesus points to the tension between the inner person, the centre of volition, and the outer person, the bodily flesh with its more obvious inherent weakness.

c.        The Example of Jesus 

The humanness of Jesus: “began to be sorrowful and very heavy” [26:37].

§         ἤρξατο - “began” [26:37], aorist middle indicative, ‘to initiate an action or process’;

§         λυπεῖσθαι - “sorrowful” [26:37], present passive infinitive, from λύπη ‘pain, sorrow’; ‘physically λύπη can denote any pain, though especially that caused by hunger or thirst, by heat or cold, or by sickness’; ‘spiritually λύπη is sorrow, pain or anxiety at misfortune or death’;

§         ἀδημονεῖν - “very heavy” [26:37], present active infinitive, ‘to faint, be depressed and almost overwhelmed with sorrow or burden of mind’;

d.        The Confession of Jesus

Jesus makes his feelings known to the inner core: “my soul is exceedingly sorrowful…” [26:38].

§         ψυχή μου - “soul” [26:38], ‘inner self, heart and mind’;

§         περίλυπός - “exceedingly sorrowful” [26:38],

§         “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me?” [Psa.42:5];

§          

§         ἕως - “unto” [26:38], ‘to link the event marking the end of a time period to another element in the same sentence’; ‘until’; ‘up to the time of’; ‘to the utmost limit or degree’;

§         θανάτου - “death” [26:38], genitive singular, ‘physical death’; ‘the penalty of sin’;

e.        The Example of Disciples

The weakness of the disciples: “he finds them sleeping…” [26:40].

§         εὑρίσκει - “finds” [26:40], present active indicative, ‘to discover’;

§         καθεύδοντας - “asleep” [26:40], present active participle, ‘slumber’; ‘not awake’;

§         βεβαρημένοι - “heavy” [26:43], perfect passive participle, ‘weighed down’; ‘to be under pressure’;

3.        The Temptation

a.        Recoil from Duty

The temptation to withdraw: “if it be possible, let this cup pass from me…” [26:39].

§         παρελθάτω - “pass” [26:39], aorist active imperative, ‘from pará, ‘near, denoting proximity’, and érchomai, ‘to come, go’; ‘to pass near, away, by, or over’;

§         ἀπʼ ἐμοῦ - “from me” [26:39], ‘separation off’; ‘motion away from’;

Application

The forgiveness of sins [26:28] will be accomplished only at an incomprehensible personal cost that goes far beyond physical death

§         Jesus tells the disciples that his sorrow is so great that he is hardly able to bear it.

§         Jesus recognises that they had wanted to do what he had asked, but that they were not strong enough.

  1. TEMPTATION & PRAYER

1.        The Need of Support of Fellows

Jesus seeks companionship and solace from men: “Jesus comes with them unto Gethsemane…” [26:36]. 

§         At this hour of trial it is only natural that Jesus would want the emotional support of his closest friends.

§         This is one of the special occasions in which only the inner core of disciples is allowed to participate: “he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee…” [26:37].

a.        The Appeal 

Jesus appeals to the three to share with him in this difficult time: “tarry ye here, and watch with me” [26:38].

§         μείνατε - “tarry” [26:38], aorist active imperative, ‘to remain in a place or state’;

§         γρηγορεῖτε - “watch” [26:38], present active imperative, ‘be alert, vigilant’; ‘keep watch’; ‘figuratively, “to keep zealous watch over,” of men and lurking beasts and also of Yahweh’;

§         embraces both physical and spiritual alertness’;

§         μετʼ ἐμοῦ - “with me” [26:38],

§         the command to “watch” here and in vv.40-41 on the night of the Passover echoes the night of vigil” referred to in [Exo.12:42].

§         ‘Do not go away, but continue to watch’;

Application

2.        The Need for Prayer

a.        Jesus’ Example

i.        The Seclusion

Jesus goes apart to pray: “sit here, while I go and pray yonder” [26:36].

§         καθίσατε - “sit” [26:36], aorist imperative, ‘settle in a place’;

§         ἕως – “while” [26:36], ‘until’;

ii.      The Act of Prayer

The need to pray alone with God: “I go and pray yonder” [26:36].

§         ἀπελθὼν ἀπελθὼν - “go” [26:36], aorist active participle, ‘go away, depart, withdraw’;

§         προσεύξωμαι - “pray” [26:36], ‘from the preposition prós, ‘to’, and eúchomai, ‘to wish, pray’; ‘to pray to God, offer prayer’;

§         ἐκεῖ - “yonder” [26:36], ‘in that place’;

iii.    The Statement of Prayer

Prayer recognizes the limitations of the human frame and seeks divine assistance.

§          

b.        Jesus Command

The focus of Jesus’ command to pray at this stage is for vigilance: “watch and pray lest you enter…” [26:41].

§         γρηγορεῖτε - “watch” [26:41], present active imperative, ‘be alert, vigilant’; ‘keep watch’; ‘figuratively, “to keep zealous watch over,” of men and lurking beasts and also of Yahweh’;

§         Eschatological connotations: “watch therefore, for you know not what hour your Lord doth come” [24:42].

§         προσεύχεσθε - “pray” [26:41], present middle or passive imperative, ‘from the preposition prós, ‘to’, and eúchomai, ‘to wish, pray’; ‘to pray to God, offer prayer’;

Application

3.        The Prayer of Jesus

a.        The First Prayer

i.        The Intimate Address

Jesus addresses God with the intimate words: “O my Father…” [26:39].

§         πάτερ μου - “my Father” [26:39], vocative singular,

ii.      The Recoil from the Cross

Although Jesus has plainly prophesied his fate, here he recoils from it: “if it be possible...” [26:39].

§         εἰ δυνατόν ἐστιν - “possible” [26:39], ‘ability, power’;

§         τὸ ποτήριον τοῦτο - “this cup” [26:39], ‘drinking vessel’; the ‘cup of suffering’;

§         παρελθάτω - “pass” [26:39], aorist active imperative, ‘from pará, ‘near, denoting proximity’, and érchomai, ‘to come, go’; ‘to pass near, away, by, or over’;

§         ἀπʼ ἐμοῦ - “from me” [26:39], ‘separation off’; ‘motion away from’;

iii.    The Governing Reality

The governing reality of Jesus’ prayer: “nevertheless not as I will...” [26:39].

§         πλὴν - “nevertheless” [26:39], ‘but, except’;

§         οὐχ ὡς ἐγὼ - “not” [26:39],

§         θέλω - “will” [26:39], present active indicative, ‘to purpose’; ‘to be ready or willing’; ‘to resolve’;

§         ἀλλʼ ὡς σύ - “you” [26:39],

§         the Markan version: “And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt” [Mar.14:36].

Application

The governing reality then is not the will of Jesus, who would avoid what lies ahead, but the will of God, who is fixed in his intent to accomplish salvation for the world through the death of his Son. In actuality, if the will of the Father is done, it is not possible to avoid the cross. 

§         Jesus is pleading that if at all possible the cup of this suffering might pass from him without his having to drink it, i.e., that he might even at this late stage bypass the agony of the cross.

§         The question is not ‘whether Jesus should do the Father’s will’ but ‘whether that necessarily included the way of the cross’.

§         Jesus experienced the natural human experience of shrinking from such an ordeal. ****

§         It is impossible to hold that it was the fact of death that moved Jesus so deeply; rather, it was the kind of death that he would die that moved Jesus so deeply.

b.        The Second Prayer

Prayer brings Jesus a step closer to (advances) >>> recognition that drinking the “cup” is indeed the Father’s will.

i.        The Resignation

Jesus’ second prayer reflects a further stage of resignation: “O my Father, if this cup may not…” [26:42].

§         τοῦτο - “this cup” [26:42],

§         οὐ δύναται - “may not” [26:42], ‘ability, power’; ‘reflects a further stage of resignation’;

§         παρελθεῖν - “pass away” [26:42], aorist active infinitive, ‘from pará, ‘near, denoting proximity’, and érchomai, ‘to come, go’; ‘to pass near, away, by, or over’;

§         ἐὰν - “except” [26:42], ‘to denote uncertainty or indefiniteness’;

§         μὴ αὐτὸ πίω - “drink it” [26:42], ‘swallow liquid’; ‘absorb, experience’;

ii.      The Obedience 

Jesus is resigned to do the will of God: “thy will be done” [26:42].

§         θέλημά σου - “thy will” [26:42], ‘to purpose’; ‘to be ready or willing’; ‘to resolve’;

§         γενηθήτω - “be done” [26:42], aorist passive imperative, ‘to come to exist, happen’;

c.        The Third Prayer

Jesus prayed three times: “prayed the third time, saying the same words” [26:44].

§         Asking for something three times expresses earnestness: “for this thing I besought the Lord three times that it might depart from me” [2Cor.12:8].

§         To do something more than once, to do it three times, shows how one truly feels.

Application

  1. TRIUMPHING IN TEMPTATION

1.        The Disciples

a.        The Prayerlessness

i.        The First Time 

The weakness of the disciples: “he finds them sleeping…” [26:40].

§         εὑρίσκει - “finds” [26:40], present active indicative, ‘to discover’;

§         καθεύδοντας - “asleep” [26:40], present active participle, ‘slumber’; ‘not awake’;

ii.      The Second Time

The second time: “he came and found them asleep again…” [26:43].

§         βεβαρημένοι - “heavy” [26:43], perfect passive participle, ‘weighed down’; ‘to be under pressure’;

b.        The Rebuke

i.        The First Rebuke

Jesus discovers that he has had no support from the disciples: “could you not watch with me…” [26:40].

§         οὐκ ἰσχύσατε - “could you not” [26:40], ‘to be strong’; ‘to be capable of’; ‘to have strength’;

§         γρηγορῆσαι - “watch” [26:40], ‘be alert, vigilant’; ‘keep watch’; ‘figuratively, “to keep zealous watch over,” of men and lurking beasts and also of Yahweh’;

ii.      The Final Rebuke

The final rebuke: “sleep on now, and take your rest…” [26:45].

§         καθεύδετε - “sleep on” [26:45], present active imperative, ‘sleep, fall asleep’;

§         ἀναπαύεσθε - “take your rest” [26:45], present middle imperative, ‘to give rest’; ‘intermission from labour’;

§         Possible to take this as a question: “are you still sleeping and taking your rest?” [26:45].

§         This avoids the incongruity of the traditional rendering “sleep for the remainder of the time and rest” [26:45] with the initial words of v.46: “rise, let us go…” [26:46].

Application

The contrast with Mary: “she has done a good work on me” [26:10].

§         Jesus is resigned to his followers’ failure;

§         Jesus becomes a solitary figure;

§         Told to watch with Jesus, and no doubt eager to do so, they fail. No answer is given in the passage to the problem of the weakness of the flesh other than that it is a fact to be admitted and not underestimated.

§         First this human failure, then the desertion of their master – the disciples are in for a bad time. They fail miserably at doing the will of their master.

2.        Jesus

a.        The Recognition

Jesus recognises the moment: “the hour is at hand…” [26:45].

§         ὥρα - “hour” [26:45], ‘the occasion, time’; ‘the last part of Jesus’ ministry when he sacrifices himself for others.

§         ἤγγικεν - “at hand” [26:45], ‘to come near’;

§         υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου - “Son of man” [26:45],

§         παραδίδοται - “betrayed” [26:45], from pará, ‘to the side of, over to’, and dídōmi, ‘to give’; ‘to deliver over or up to the power of someone’;

§         ἁμαρτωλῶν - “sinners” [26:45],

b.        The Resolve

Jesus’ resolve to do the will of the Father: “rise, let us be going…” [26:46].

§         ἐγείρεσθε - “rise” [26:46], present middle imperative, ‘stand up’;

§         ἄγωμεν - “going” [26:46], ‘to lead’; ‘to go away, depart’;

§         a call to go and meet the betrayer and those with him…

Application

Jesus is a model of faithful discipleship. Jesus stays awake to watch; he prays the Lord’s prayer; he submits to the will of God. *********

§         For Jesus the immediate crisis is over and the final act about to begin. Now unwaveringly his face I set toward the cross and the fulfilment of the Father’s will.

                                                   

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