The Saviour's life on earth was a life of prayer. Many were the hours He spent alone with God. Often did He send up His earnest petitions to His heavenly Father. Thus He received strength and wisdom to sustain Him in His work, and to keep Him from falling under the temptations of Satan.
After eating the Passover supper with His disciples, Jesus went with them to the garden of Gethsemane, where He often went to pray. As He walked, He talked with them, and taught them; but as they neared the garden, He became strangely silent.
All His life,Jesus had lived in the presence of His Father. The Spirit of God had been His constant guide and support. He always gave God the glory for His works on earth, and said, "I can of Mine own self do nothing." John 5:30.
We can do nothing of ourselves. It is only by relying on Christ for all our strength that we can overcome, and do His will on earth. We must have the same simple,
childlike trust in Him that He had in His Father. Christ said, "Without Me ye can do nothing." John 15:5.
The terrible night of agony for the Saviour began as they neared the garden. It seemed that the presence of God, which had been His support, was no longer with Him. He was beginning to feel what it was to be shut out from His Father.
Christ must bear the sins of the world. As they were now laid upon Him, they seemed more than He could endure. The guilt of sin was so terrible, He was tempted to fear that God could no longer love Him.
As He felt the awful displeasure of the Father against evil, the words were forced from Him,"My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death."
Near the gate of the garden, Jesus had left all His disciples except Peter, James, and John, and He had gone into the garden with these three. They were His most earnest followers, and had been His closest companions. But He could not bear that even they should witness the suffering He was to endure. He said to them:
"Tarry ye here, and watch with Me." Matthew 26:38.
He went a short distance from them, and fell prostrate upon the ground. He felt that by sin He was being separated from the Father. The gulf between them appeared so broad,so black, so deep, that He shuddered before it.
Christ was not suffering for his own sins, but for the sins of the world. He was feeling the displeasure of God against sin as the sinner will feel it in the great judgement day.
In His agony,Christ clung to the cold ground. From His pale lips came the bitter cry,"O My Father, if it be
possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt."Matthew 26:39.
For an hour Christ bore this terrible suffering alone. Then He came to the disciples,hoping for some word of sympathy. But no sympathy awaited Him, for they were asleep. They awoke at the sound of His voice, but they hardly knew Him, His face was so changed by anguish. Addressing Peter, He said:
"Simon,sleepest thou? Couldest not thou watch one hour?" Mark 14:37.
Just before He bent His footsteps to the garden, Christ had said to the disciples, "All ye shall be offended because of Me this night." They had given Him the strongest assurance that they would go with Him to prison and to death. And poor, self-sufficient Peter had added, "Although all shall be offended,yet will not I." Mark 14:27, 29.
But the disciples trusted to themselves. They did not look to the Mighty Helper as Christ had counselled them to do. So when the Saviour was most in need of their sympathy and prayers, they were found asleep. Even Peter was sleeping.
And John, the loving disciple who had leaned upon the breast of Jesus, was asleep. Surely the love of John for his Master should have kept him awake. His earnest prayers should have mingled with those of his loved Saviour in the time of His great agony. The Redeemer had spent whole nights in praying for His disciples, that their faith might not fail in the hour of trial. Yet they could not remain awake with Him even one hour.
Had Christ now asked James and John, "Can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptised with the
baptism that I am baptised with?" they would not have answered so readily as they did before, "We can." Mark 10:38, 39.
The Saviour's heart was filled with pity and sympathy at the weakness of His disciples. He feared that they could not endure the test which His suffering and death would bring upon them.
Yet He did not sternly reprove them for their weakness. He thought of the trials that were before them, and said:
"Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation."
He made an excuse for their failure in duty toward Him: "The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." Matthew 26:41. What an example of the tender, loving pity of the Saviour!
Again the Son of God was seized with superhuman agony. Fainting and exhausted, He staggered back, and prayed as He had prayed before:
"O My Father,if this cup may not pass away from Me, except I drink it, Thy will be done." Matthew 26:42.
The agony of this prayer forced drops of blood from His pores. Again He sought the disciples for sympathy, and again He found them sleeping. His presence aroused them. They looked upon His face with fear, for it was stained with blood. They could not understand the anguish of mind which His face expressed.
The third time He sought the place of prayer. A horror of great darkness overcame Him. He had lost the presence of His Father. Without this, He feared that in His human nature He could not endure the test.
The third time He prays the same prayer as before. Angels long to bring relief, but it may not be. The Son of
God must drink this cup, or the world will be lost forever. He sees the helplessness of man.He sees the power of sin. The woes of a doomed world pass in review before Him.
He makes the final decision. He will save man at any cost to Himself. He has left the courts of Heaven, where all is purity, happiness, and glory, to save the one lost sheep, the one world that has fallen by transgression, and He will not turn from His purpose. His prayer now breathes only submission:
"If this cup may not pass away from Me, except I drink it, Thy will be done."
The Saviour now falls dying to the ground. No disciple is there, to place his hand tenderly beneath his Master's head, and bathe that brow, marred indeed more than the sons of men. Christ is alone; of all the people there are none with Him.
But God suffers with His Son. Angels behold the Saviour's agony. There is silence in Heaven. No harp is touched. Could men have viewed the amazement of the angelic host as in silent grief they watched the Father separating His beams of light, love, and glory from His beloved Son, they would better understand how offensive in His sight is sin.
A mighty angel now comes to the side of Christ. He lifts the head of the divine sufferer upon his bosom, and points toward Heaven. He tells Him that He has come off victor over Satan. As the result, millions will be victors in His glorious kingdom.
A heavenly peace rests upon the Saviour's blood-stained face. He has borne that which no human being can ever
bear; for He has tasted the sufferings of death for every man.
Again Christ sought His disciples, and again He found them sleeping. Had they remained awake, watching and praying with their Saviour, they would have received help for the trial before them. Missing this, they had no strength in their hour of need.
Looking sorrowfully on them, Christ said, "Sleep on now, and take your rest:behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners."
Even as He spoke these words, He heard the footsteps of the mob in search of Him, and said:
"Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray Me." Matthew 26:45,46.