Matthew 26:38
Then said he to them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even to death: tarry you here, and watch with me.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(38) Then cometh Jesus . . .—In the interval between Matthew 26:35-36, we have probably to place the discourses in John 15 (the reference to the vine, probably suggested by one which was putting forth its leaves in the early spring), John 16, and the great prayer of intercession in John 17. As St. John alone has recorded them, it is probable that he alone entered into their meaning, while others either did not hear them, or listened to them as above their reach, and asked their child-like questions (John 16:18-19; John 16:29-30). St. Luke records what we may look on as the germ of the great intercession, in our Lord’s words to Peter, “I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not” (Luke 22:32).

A place called Gethsemane.—The word means “oil-press,” and was obviously connected with the culture of the trees from which the Mount took its name. St. John’s description implies that it was but a little way beyond the brook Kidron (John 18:1), on the lower western slope of the mount. There was, a garden (or rather, orchard) there which was the wonted resort of our Lord and the disciples when they sought retirement. The olive-trees now growing in the place shown as Gethsemane, venerable as their age is, can hardly have been those that then grew there, as Josephus expressly records that Titus ordered all the trees in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem to be cut down, and the Tenth Legion was actually encamped on the Mount of Olives (Jos. Wars, v. 2, § 3). They probably represent the devotion of pilgrims of the fourth or some later century, who replanted the hallowed site.

Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.—Partly in compassion to the weakness and weariness of the disciples, partly from the sense of the need of solitude in the highest acts of communing with His Father, the Son of Man withdraws for a little while from converse with those whom, up to this time, He had been strengthening. He had been (as in John 17) praying for them; He now needs to pray for Himself.

(38) Exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.—The infinite sadness of that hour leads the Master to crave for sympathy from the three who were, most of all, His brothers. If they may not see, or fully hear, the throes of that agony, as though the pangs of death had already fallen on Him, it will be something to know that they are at least watching with Him, sharers in that awful vigil.

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?My soul is exceeding sorrowful - His human nature - his soul - was much and deeply affected and pressed down.

Even unto death - This denotes extreme sorrow and agony.

The sufferings of death are the greatest of which we have any knowledge; they are the most feared and dreaded by man; and those sufferings are therefore put for extreme and indescribable anguish. The meaning may be thus expressed: My sorrows are so great that under their burden I am ready to die; such is the anxiety of mind, that I seem to bear the pains of death!

Tarry ye here and watch with me - The word rendered "watch" means, literally, to abstain from sleep; then to be vigilant, or to guard against danger. Here it seems to mean to sympathize with him, to unite with him in seeking divine support, and to prepare themselves for approaching dangers.

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.

Ver. 37,38. Mark names the three disciples, Mark 14:33,34: And he taketh with him Peter and James and John, and began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy; and saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch. The three witnesses of his transfiguration, Matthew 17:1, he takes also to be witnesses of his agony. He began to be sorrowful, and very heavy. The words in the Greek are expressive of the greatest sorrow imaginable, which he further expresses Matthew 26:38, saying,

My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death. This was not wholly upon the sense of his approaching death, for he laid down his life, no man took it from him; nor yet to consider how his disciples would be left; but in the sense he had of the wrath of God due to man for sin, which he now felt, bearing our sins. So as this was a part, and a great part, of his suffering as appears by his following earnest prayers for the passing away of that cup, his sweating as it were drops of blood, Luke 22:44, the angels coming and ministering unto him, Luke 22:43. Luke saith, he was in an agony, which signifieth a great inward conflict. Then saith he unto them,.... The three disciples, Peter, James, and John, who, by his looks and gestures, might know somewhat of the inward distress of his mind; yet he choose to express it to them in words, saying,

my soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death. That Christ had an human soul, as well as an human body, is clear from hence; and which was possessed of the same passions as ours are, but without sin, such as joy, love, grief, sorrow, &c. and at this time its sorrows were exceeding great: his soul was beset all around with the sins of his people; these took hold on him, and encompassed him, which must, in the most sensible manner, affect his pure and spotless mind; the sorrows of death and hell surrounded him on every side, insomuch that the least degree of comfort was not let in to him; nor was there any way open for it, so that his soul was overwhelmed with sorrow; his heart was ready to break; he was brought even, as it were, to the dust of death; nor would his sorrows leave him, he was persuaded, until soul and body were separated from each other; see a like phrase in Judges 16:16,

tarry ye here. The Ethiopic adds, "till I shall return", for he was going a little further from them, to vent his grief, and pour out his soul unto God. Munster's Hebrew Gospel reads it, "expect me", or "wait for me here", signifying, that he should return to them shortly,

and watch with me. It was night, and they might be heavy and inclined to sleep: he knew it would be an hour of temptation both to him and them, and therefore advises them to watch against it; and to observe how it would go with him, and what should befall him, that they might be witnesses of it, and be able to testify what agonies he endured, what grace he exercised, and how submissive he was to his Father's will.

{10} Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.

(10) Christ, a true man, who is about to suffer the punishment which we should have suffered for forsaking God, is forsaken by his own: he has a terrible conflict with the horror and fear of the curse of God: out of which he, since he escaped as a conqueror, causes us not to be afraid of death any more.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Matthew 26:38. τοτὲ λέγει αὐτ.: He confides to the three His state of mind without reserve, as if He wished it to be known. Cf. the use made in the epistle to the Hebrews of this frank manifestation of weakness as showing that Christ could not have usurped the priestly office, but rather simply submitted to be made a priest (chap. Matthew 5:7-8).—περίλυπος, overwhelmed with distress, “über and über traurig” (Weiss).—ἕως θανάτου, mortally = death by anticipation, showing that it was the Passion with all its horrors vividly realised that was causing the distress. Hilary, true to his docetic tendency represents Christ as distressed on account of the three, fearing they might altogether lose their faith in God.—ὧδε: the three stationed nearer the scene of agony to keep watch there.38. My soul] This is important as the one passage in which Jesus ascribes to Himself a human soul.

watch with me] The Son of man in this dark hour asks for human sympathy.

with me] Only in Matthew.Matthew 26:38.[1146] Ἕως θανάτου, even unto death) Such sorrow as might have led an ordinary mortal to commit suicide.—μείνατε ὧδε, tarry ye here) You must not go with Me.—μετʼ Ἐμοῦ, with Me) In great trials solitude is pleasing, yet so that friends be near at hand. Jesus commands His disciples to watch with Him, though He knew that they would not afford Him any assistance.

[1146] ἡ ψυκή μου, my soul) How great must have been the emotions and thoughts in the most holy soul of the Saviour in reference to the work committed to Him by the Father, as also in reference to His passion and His glory, especially during the last months, days, and hours before His death, throughout the very precious alternations which befell Him; for instance when, as He said, “He must be about His Father’s business;” when He received baptism; when He overcame the Tempter; when He put forth His zeal for His Father’s House; when He rejoiced in the “revelation made to infants of things hidden from the wise and prudent;” when He was transfigured on the Mount; when He set His face stedfastly toward Jerusalem; when He solemnly entered the city; when He said, “Now is My soul troubled,” etc.; when He washed the feet of the disciples; when He spake the words, “Now is the Son of Man glorified;” when He celebrated the last supper before His Passion with His disciples. And also in this very place, where He testifies that His “soul is sorrowful even unto death.” Add the several divine sentences which He uttered on the Cross.—Harm., p. 526, 527.Verse 38. - My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death (Jonah 4:9). Christ speaks here of the mental agony which he is enduring; he bides not from the faithful three that which weighs upon his heart, so excessive a strain that human nature must fail to endure it. We cannot gauge the anguish; we may suggest some of the causes of this sorrow. It was not merely the thought of bodily pain, though that would be long and excessive; there were other elements which made his sorrow like to no other sorrow. He thought of all the circumstances that led to his Passion; all that would accompany it; all that would succeed it - the malice and perversity of the Jews, the grievous wickedness that brought about his death, the treachery of Judas, the desertion of his friends, the denial of Peter, his unjust condemnation at the hands of the rulers of the chosen nation, the pusillanimity of Pilate, the guilt of the actors in the tragedy, the wilful iniquity of those whom he came to redeem, the ruin which they brought on themselves, their city and nation - such considerations formed one ingredient in the bitter cup which he had to drain. And then the thought of death was unspeakably terrible to the all-holy Son of God. We men become accustomed to the thought of death. It accompanies us through all our life; it looms before us always. But man was created immortal (Wisd. 2:23), his nature shrinks from the dissolution of soul and body; and to the sinless, unfallen Man this experience was wholly unknown and awful. Here was the incarnate God, the God-Man, submitting himself to the punishment of sin, tasting death forevery man, bearing in his own Person the inexpressible bitterness of this penal humiliation. Added to all this was the incalculable fact that "the Lord had laid on him the iniquity of us all." The burden of the sins of all mankind he bore on his sacred shoulders. "Him who knew no sin God made to be sin on our behalf" (2 Corinthians 5:21). What this mysterious imputation, so to speak, involved, we cannot tell; but to a being perfectly pure and holy it must have been anguish unspeakable. Tarry ye here. As ver. 36, "Sit ye here." And watch with me. In his dark hour his human soul yearned for the comfort of a friendly presence; even though these chosen three might not witness the extremity of his agony, their proximity and sympathy and prayers were a support. But he bade them watch for their own sake also. Their great trial was close at hand; they were about to be tempted to deny and forsake him; they could resist only by prayer and watchfulness (ver. 41).
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