Matthew 26:37
And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(37) He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee.—The favoured three, as before at the Transfiguration, and in the death-chamber in the house of Jairus (Matthew 17:1; Mark 5:37), were chosen out of the chosen. Their professions of devotion justified, as it were, the belief that they, at least, could “watch and pray” with Him. The nearness and sympathy of friends were precious even when personal solitude was felt to be a necessity.

And began to be sorrowful and very heavy.—The Greek word for the latter verb occurs only here, in the parallel passage of Mark 14:33, and Philippians 2:26, where it is translated “full of heaviness.” Its primary meaning is thought by some philologists to have been that of “satiety,” hence, “loathing” and “ill at ease.” Others, however, find its root-thought in being “far from home,” and so weary and perplexed. There is, it is obvious, a mysterious contrast between the calm, triumphant serenity which had shone in the look and tone of the Son of Man up to this point, and had reached its highest point in the prayer of John 17, and the anguish and distress that were now apparent. The change has, however, its manifold analogies in the experience of those who are nearest to their Master in sufferings and character. They, too, know how suddenly they may pass from confidence and joy as to a horror of great darkness. And in His sufferings we must remember there was an element absolutely unique. It was His to “tread the wine-press” alone (Isaiah 63:3). It was not only, as it might be with other martyrs, the natural shrinking of man’s nature from pain and death, nor yet the pain of finding treachery and want of true devotion where there had been the promise of faithfulness. The intensity of His sympathy at that moment made the sufferings and sins of mankind His own, and the burden of those sins weighed upon His soul as greater than He could bear (Isaiah 53:4-6).

26:36-46 He who made atonement for the sins of mankind, submitted himself in a garden of suffering, to the will of God, from which man had revolted in a garden of pleasure. Christ took with him into that part of the garden where he suffered his agony, only those who had witnessed his glory in his transfiguration. Those are best prepared to suffer with Christ, who have by faith beheld his glory. The words used denote the most entire dejection, amazement, anguish, and horror of mind; the state of one surrounded with sorrows, overwhelmed with miseries, and almost swallowed up with terror and dismay. He now began to be sorrowful, and never ceased to be so till he said, It is finished. He prayed that, if possible, the cup might pass from him. But he also showed his perfect readiness to bear the load of his sufferings; he was willing to submit to all for our redemption and salvation. According to this example of Christ, we must drink of the bitterest cup which God puts into our hands; though nature struggle, it must submit. It should be more our care to get troubles sanctified, and our hearts satisfied under them, than to get them taken away. It is well for us that our salvation is in the hand of One who neither slumbers nor sleeps. All are tempted, but we should be much afraid of entering into temptation. To be secured from this, we should watch and pray, and continually look unto the Lord to hold us up that we may be safe. Doubtless our Lord had a clear and full view of the sufferings he was to endure, yet he spoke with the greatest calmness till this time. Christ was a Surety, who undertook to be answerable for our sins. Accordingly he was made sin for us, and suffered for our sins, the Just for the unjust; and Scripture ascribes his heaviest sufferings to the hand of God. He had full knowledge of the infinite evil of sin, and of the immense extent of that guilt for which he was to atone; with awful views of the Divine justice and holiness, and the punishment deserved by the sins of men, such as no tongue can express, or mind conceive. At the same time, Christ suffered being tempted; probably horrible thoughts were suggested by Satan that tended to gloom and every dreadful conclusion: these would be the more hard to bear from his perfect holiness. And did the load of imputed guilt so weigh down the soul of Him of whom it is said, He upholdeth all things by the word of his power? into what misery then must those sink whose sins are left upon their own heads! How will those escape who neglect so great salvation?And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee - That is, James and John, Matthew 10:2. On two other occasions he had favored these disciples in a particular manner, suffering them to go with him to witness his power and glory, namely, at the healing of the ruler's daughter Luke 8:51, and at his transfiguration on the mount, Matthew 17:1.

Sorrowful - Affected with grief.

Very heavy - The word in the original is much stronger than the one translated "sorrowful." It means, to be pressed down or overwhelmed with great anguish. This was produced, doubtless, by a foresight of his great sufferings on the cross in making an atonement for the sins of people.

Mt 26:36-46. The Agony in the Garden. ( = Mr 14:32-42; Lu 22:39-46).

For the exposition, see on [1364]Lu 22:39-46.

See Poole on "Matthew 26:38". And he took with him Peter, and the two sons of Zebedee,.... James and John, who perhaps were the strongest, and best able to bear the shocking sight, and were his favourite disciples; who were admitted to be with him at other times, when the rest were not; as at the raising of Jairus's daughter, Mark 5:37, and moreover, these were at his transfiguration on the mount, Matthew 17:1, which was a representation and presage of his glory; and so were very proper persons to be witnesses of his sorrows and agonies, which were the way to it; and three of them were taken by him for this purpose, being a sufficient number to bear testimony, since by the mouth of two or three witnesses everything is established:

and began to be sorrowful; his soul was troubled on the same account six days before, John 12:27, but was now sorrowful. He was a man of sorrows all his days, and acquainted with griefs, being reproached and persecuted by men: but now a new scene of sorrows opened; before he was afflicted by men, but now he is bruised, and put to grief by his Father: his sorrows now began, for they did not end here, but on the cross; not that this was but a bare beginning of his sorrows, or that these were but light in comparison of future ones; for they were very heavy, and indeed seem to be the heaviest of all, as appears from his own account of them; his vehement cry to his Father; his bloody sweat and agony; and the assistance he stood in need of from an angel; and the comfort and strength he received from him in his human nature: all which, put together, the like is not to be observed in any part of his sufferings:

and to be very heavy; with the weight of the sins of his people, and the sense of divine wrath, with which he was so pressed and overwhelmed, that his spirits were almost quite gone; he was just ready to swoon away, sink and die; his heart failed him, and became like wax melted in the midst of his bowels, before the wrath of God, which was as a consuming fire: all which shows the truth, though weakness of his human nature, and the greatness of his sufferings in it. The human nature was still in union with the divine person of the Son of God, and was sustained by him, but left to its natural weakness, without sin, that it might suffer to the utmost, and as much as possible for the sins of God's elect.

And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and {r} very heavy.

(r) The word which he uses signifies great sorrow, and tremendous and deadly grief: this thing, as it indicates man's true nature, which shuns death as a thing that entered in against nature, shows that though Christ was void of sin, yet he sustained this horrible punishment, because he felt the wrath of God kindled against us for sins, which he revenged and punished in his person.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Matthew 26:37 f. Anticipating the inward struggle that awaited Him, He retired farther into the garden, taking with Him none (Matthew 17:1) but the three most intimate disciples.

ἤρξατο] indicating the first symptoms of the condition in question.

λυπεῖσθαι κ. ἀδημονεῖν] Climax. Suidas explains ἀδημον. as meaning: λίαν λυπεῖσθαι. See Buttmann, Lexilog. II. p. 135 f.; Ael. V. H. xiii. 3; Php 2:26.

περίλυπος] very sorrowful, Psalm 63:5; Psalms 3 Esdr. 8:71 f.; Isocr. p. 11 B; Aristot. Eth. iv. 3; Diog. L. vii. 97. The opposite of this is περιχαρής.

ἡ ψυχή μου] Comp. John 12:27; Xen. Hell. iv. 4. 3 : ἀδημονῆσαι τὰς ψυχάς. The soul, the intermediate element through which the spirit (τὸ πνεῦμα, Matthew 26:41) is connected with the body in the unity of the individual (see Beck, Bibl. Seelenl. p. 11), is the seat of pleasure and pain. Comp. Stirm in the Tüb. Zeitschr. 1834, 3, p. 25 ff.

ἕως θανάτου] defining the extent of the περίλυπος: unto death, so as almost to cause death, so that I am nearly dead from very grief; Jonah 4:9; Isaiah 38:1; and see on Php 2:27. The idea of the mors infernalis (Calovius), as though Christ had been experiencing the pains of hell, is here exegetically unwarrantable. Euthymius Zigabenus correctly observes: φανερώτερον ἐξαγορεύει τὴν ἀσθένειαν τῆς φύσεως ὡς ἄνθρωπος.

μείνατεἐμοῦ] “In magnis tentationibus juvat solitudo, sed tamen, ut in propinquo sint amici,” Bengel.Matthew 26:37. παραλαβὼν: He takes the same three as at the transfiguration along with Him that they may be near enough to prevent a feeling of utter isolation.—ἤρξατο, He began. This beginning refers to the appearance of distress; the inward beginning came earlier. He did His feeling till He had reduced His following to three; then allowed them to appear to those who, He hoped, could bear the revelation and give Him a little sympathy.—ἀδημονεῖν, of unvertain derivation. Euthy. gives as its equivalent βαρυθυμεῖν, to be dejected or heavy hearted.37. Peter and the two sons of Zebedee] See ch. Matthew 17:1 and Mark 5:37. The Evangelist, St John, was thus a witness of this scene; hence, as we should expect, his narrative of the arrest of Jesus is very full of particulars.

very heavy] The Greek word conveys the impression of the deepest sorrow; it is used of “maddening grief.”Matthew 26:37. Παραλαβὼν, taking with Him) As witnesses the three whom He had employed in the same capacity in ch. Matthew 17:1.—τοὺς δὺο, the two) who had offered themselves, ch. Matthew 20:20-21.—ἤρξατο, He began) immediately.—λυπεῖσθαι καὶ ἀδημονεῖν, to be sorrowful and very heavy) St Mark says, ἐκθαμβεῖσθαι καὶ ἀδημονεῖν, “to be sore amazed and to be very heavy.” Both λυπεῖσθαι and ἐκθαμβεῖσθαι denote the presence and effect of an object of horror,—ἀδημονεῖν, the loss of all power of deriving enjoyment from other sources. The same word occurs in Php 2:26, where see Gnomon. Hesychius explains ἀδημεῖν by θαυμάζειν (to be astonied) ἀπορεῖν (to be at a loss, to be in trouble, to be at one’s wit’s end) and ἀδημονεῖν, the word which occurs in the text, Eustathius says, ἀδήμων signifies one who is overwhelmed with ἄδος, irksomeness, that is to say, by satiety or grief.—ἀδημονεῖν signifies, ἀλύειν καὶ ἀμηχανεῖν, i.e. to be in great distress, and to be almost beside one’s self for trouble.Verse 37. - Peter and the two sons of Zebedee. These three had been privileged to behold his transfiguration, and that glimpse of his glory strengthened them to bear the partial sight of their dear Lord's sufferings. Did his human heart crave for sympathy, and did he desire not to be utterly alone at this awful crisis? We may well suppose so, as he was true Man, with all man's feelings and sensibilities. Began to be sorrowful and very heavy (ἀδημονεῖν, to be sore dismayed). This word seems to be used of the dismay that comes with an unexpected calamity. St. Mark tells us that Christ was "sore amazed" (ἐκθαμβεῖσθαι). It is as though the prospect of what was coming suddenly opened to his vision and overwhelmed him. He now set before himself, i.e. his human consciousness, the sufferings which he had to undergo, with all that led to them, and all that would follow, and the burden was crushing.
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