September 01, 2014
From the desk of Dr. A.J. Higgins
The Savior at Gethsemane
And when He was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation. And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, Saying, Father, if thou be willing,
remove this cup from me:
nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.
The air must have seemed charged with the solemnity of the night scene. Imagine the moment of arrival in the garden. The focus of the Godhead for millennia had been here; in reality it was a moment stretching back to eternity. In His own experience, He had lived for 33 years and for this He had come into the world. It was a place He often resorted to for prayer. He had visited it often. Each of those occasions must have been a foreshadowing, a reminder of this night and its events. Each visit was a step closer to the final one with all its anguish and grief.
He kneeled down in the garden and prayed. It is possible that no one ever prayed like this. The writer to the Hebrews tells us that He prayed “with strong crying and tears unto Him that was able to save Him out of death” (Heb 5:7). His words were not in conflict with the divine will. This was no wrestling of the Savior with God; this was the agony of the entire Godhead, showing us that there was no other possible way for the great work of redemption to be accomplished.
Amazingly, an angel is dispatched to strengthen Him. What angel was privileged to have this ministry? Was it Gabriel or Michael? We are not told. How did the angel strengthen the omnipotent One?
Luke, the physician, adds what no other writer has told us: “Being in an agony, He prayed more earnestly” (v 44). It is difficult, if not impossible, to explain in words what was happening: the eternal Son of God knew all things from the beginning. The events of Calvary were actually foreordained by Him as part of the Godhead. Yet, as a Man, He experienced events as they occurred. Now, as the reality and imminency of Calvary overshadowed His path, the grief of the coming hour must have come like waves crashing against His tender soul. He sweat, “as it were, great drops of blood” (v 44).
But they came; the motley crowd with their weapons and torches. The betrayer came with his vile kiss. Peter, rash, impetuous, but courageous, tried to defend the Lord and severed the ear of Malchus. In amazing grace, the Lord healed the severed ear, possibly creating an ear before the eyes of His assailants. The miracle was done, not so much to heal the man, as to remove any suggestion of resistance on His part. He would go willingly to the cross. No mark of a struggle must ever be left for men to think He resisted.
How dreadful the words of the Lord Jesus Christ: “This is your hour and the power of darkness.” Here was the hour in which Satan and his hosts, and man and his depravity, were given free rein to abuse and punish the Lord Jesus without any intervention from heaven. Angels would not come; thunder bolts and storms would not be unleashed. Heaven would be silent, and humanity and Satan would have their hour.
O day of mightiest sorrow
Day of unfathomed grief
When Thou didst know the horror
Of wrath without relief
No eye was found to pity
No heart to share Thy woe
But shame and scorn and spitting,
None cared Thy Name to know
J. N. D.