We note, first,
the place (14:32a):

And they came
to a place which was named Gethsemane:

And we note, also,
the pain (14:32b-34):

and he saith
to his disciples, Sit ye here, while I shall pray.

An enclosed piece
of ground was there at Gethsemane. The Lord seems to have left the main body
of the disciples outside. He had a parting word of advice for them, however:
“Sit ye here!” He said, “I am going to pray.” The implication is that they would
be well advised to do the same, especially with Zechariah 13:7 still fresh in
their minds. They should stop protesting their resolutions and start praying.
Judas and the mob would soon be there.

And he taketh
with him Peter and James and John, and began to be sore amazed, and to be very

The other disciples
were getting used to the choice of these three for further revelation. It had
happened twice before, once in the house of Jairus, when they had been chosen
to witness His greatness in the raising of a little girl to life, and
once to be with Him and witness His glory on the Mount of Transfiguration.
Now they were being taken aside to witness His grief.

And what grief
it was! The word for “sore amazed” occurs in only two other places, both of
them in Mark’s gospel. We have met the word before. When the Lord came down
from the Mount of Transfiguration, we read that “all the people, when they beheld
him, were greatly amazed. . .” (9:15). The glory of that other world, revealed
in all of its awe-inspiring magnificence on the mount itself, seems to have
left its aura about Him. The people were awed by the splendor of another world.
It would be the same on the resurrection morning; when the women came to the
tomb and saw the angel there, “they were affrighted” and were told to not be
“affrighted.” Again, it was contact with another world that awed them (16:5-6).

In Gethsemane,
the Lord was brought into contact with another world too — the world of our
sin, the world of unspeakable horror that lay before Him at Calvary when He
would take upon Himself our guilt and be “made sin for us.” He was “sore amazed.”

The Greek word
actually conveys “to be stunned with astonishment.” It depicts the pain that
results from some great shock. The Lord had lived on this sin-cursed planet
ever since He was born at Bethlehem. He had rubbed shoulders with sinning humanity
all of His life. But this was different. This was sin in the raw, naked sin,
sin in all of its undiluted wickedness. The Lord’s first reaction to the full
horror and heinousness of human sin seems to have been one of overwhelming shock.
The reality exceeded all of His expectations.

He was “sore amazed.”
Mark adds that He was “very heavy.” The word means to be deeply weighed down,
to be depressed, to be uncomfortable, to be in a situation in which He no longer
felt at home.

And saith
unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch.

The words exceeding
mean that He was completely surrounded with grief. “Unto death”
— “I almost die!” He adds.

“Tarry ye here,
and watch,” He said, adding the extra injunction to His chosen three to watch
as well as to pray. They had never heard Him speak such words of personal woe
before. Surely, they must have made up their minds then and there to do exactly
what He requested — to watch and pray.

Next, we note
the prayers (14:35-42):

And he went
forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible,
the hour might pass from him.

If ever we are
shown the true humanity of the Lord Jesus, it is in Gethsemane. The hour was
upon Him. The verb for “fell” is in the imperfect tense. He not only fell to
the ground but also kept on falling to the ground. He was like some mighty wrestler
locked in deadly struggle with some mighty antagonist. The struggle in the darkness
was terrible. The word for “prayed” is also in the imperfect tense — He kept
on praying. We are told the burden of His prayer:

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.

The Lord used
two words for God here. He called Him “Abba,” an Aramaic word that occurs only
here, in Romans 8:5, and in Galatians 4:6. The word Abba is the word
of a child. It answers to our word Papa, or Daddy. It expresses
the deep, emotional devotion and trust that the Lord Jesus had in His beloved
Father in heaven.

The word Father
comes from the Greek word pater. It is the word of an adult son. The
Lord Jesus fully entered into the mind and will of God. As God, He had been
present before time ever began when, in the eternal counsels, the Father, the
Son, and the Holy Spirit had planned the redemption of a race as yet unborn.
As perfect Man, with perfect understanding of the Scriptures to instruct Him,
and with a peerless relationship with the Father to uphold Him, He could thus
speak to the Father with every confidence.

The Lord used
both expressions — not just Abba and not just Father
but both — joined together to express the fullness of the relationship.

It was as Man,
however, that He made His request. The horror of that dark and dreadful cup
filled His holy soul with loathing. The Lord acknowledged God’s omnipotence;
all things were possible with God. He asked that some other way be found. And
then He capitulated at once to that “good, and acceptable, and perfect, will
of God” (Rom. 12:2).

And he cometh,
and findeth them sleeping, and saith unto Peter, Simon, sleepest thou? couldest
not thou watch one hour? Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The
spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.

On the human level,
it must have been a terrible letdown! The Lord, back from a fearful spiritual
struggle, came looking for companionship with those three friends of His whom
He had invited to have the “fellowship of his sufferings” (Phil. 3:10). He came
only to find them asleep. He challenged them, addressing Peter as the one who
had boasted the loudest and longest about his loyalty even unto death. To arouse
him even more, He called him by his old name — Simon! He warned him. He must
watch and pray for the good of his own soul. Forces were already afoot that
would sift him like wheat to the core of his being. Then, with infinite compassion,
He made allowance for their mortal frailty. The flesh was weak, they were only
human, they could not possibly enter into His agony, although, in spirit, they
were willing enough. More lonely than ever, He returned to His battle.

And again
he went away, and prayed, and spake the same words.

This is an interesting
sidelight on prayer. It does not always have to be original and inventive, always
finding new ways to say the same things. Obviously, we must beware against “vain
repetition,” or allowing our prayers to become mechanical, repetitious, and
dead. But no deadness was in His prayer. The onslaught was as fresh and as fierce
as before, and the Lord’s agony was just as intense. The prospect was as terrible
as ever. New words would not have helped. The same words sufficed.

And when he
returned, he found them asleep again, (for their eyes were heavy,) neither wist
they what to answer him. And he cometh the third time, and saith unto them,
Sleep on now, and take your rest: it is enough, the hour is come; behold, the
Son of man is betrayed into the hands ofsinners. Rise up, let us go; lo, he
that betrayeeh me is at hand.

Three times He
went away to pray. Three times He came back to find the three disciples asleep.
The poor fellows could not keep their eyes open, although He Himself had been
in an agony too great for Him even to think of sleep. We learn elsewhere that
the agony that He endured was so intense that He not only broke out in sweat
but also sweated great drops of blood (Luke 22:44). Indeed, an angel had to
come and care for Him — something that Peter could have done, no doubt, had
he stayed awake. Satan seems to have tried to kill Him in Gethsemane.

When He returned
the third time, He told the disciples that they might just as well finish their
sleep. He was wide awake indeed. But He could see what they could not see: Judas
consummating his deal with the priests.

Then Jesus said,
“It is enough.” This was a significant statement. According to one authority,
that expression conveys the idea that “he is receiving” (i.e., the money promised
in v. 11). The verb as used in the Papyri is the technical word for
“giving a receipt.”‘ So, the omniscient Christ could actually see Judas, at
that very moment, receiving the blood money.

Shortly afterward,
the sound of the approaching mob could be heard breaking the stillness of the
night. Any moment now He, the Son of Man, would be delivered into the hands
of these sinful men.


from Exploring the Gospel of Mark: An Expository Commentary by John Phillips.
Used by permission of Kregel Publications. The John Phillips Commentary Series
from Kregel is available at your local or online Christian bookseller, or contact
Kregel at (800) 733-2607.


Phillips is a popular preacher and Bible study leader who now resides in Bowling
Green, KY.

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