Mark 14:37
Then Jesus returned and found them sleeping. "Simon, are you asleep?" He asked, "Were you not able to keep watch for one hour?
Sermons
The Sleeping ApostleAlexander MaclarenMark 14:37
The Betrayal by JudasJ.J. Given Mark 14:1-11, 18-21, 43-50
BetrayalR. Green Mark 14:10, 11, 17-21, 43-52
The Agony in GethsemaneJ.J. Given Mark 14:26-42
Peter's FallR. Green Mark 14:27-31, 66-72
GethsemaneR. Green Mark 14:32-42
GethsemaneE. Johnson Mark 14:32-42
The Agony in the GardenA.F. Muir Mark 14:32-42
The mystery of our Lord's suffering is beyond our power of accurate analysis. We cannot fathom the depths of sin and grief which he experienced. We must not suppose that, because we are so familiar with this narrative, we know all its significance. At the most we have only felt one wave of the sea of sorrow which sobbed and swelled in his infinite heart. Only one phase of this manysided subject will engage our attention. Leaving the atoning nature of the sufferings of our Lord, we will now regard him as the Representative of his people, their Forerunner in this as in all things. The "cup" is a figure familiar enough to all students of Scripture.

I. THE CUP OF EXPERIENCE may be represented by the cup which was the symbol of the mockery and shame and grief the Savior suffered.

1. The phrase reminds us that our joys and griefs are measured. A cup is not illimitable. Full to the brim, it can only hold its own measure.

(1) Our joys are limited by what is in us, and by what is in them. If a man prospers in the world, his wealth brings him not only comfort, but care, anxiety, and responsibility, so that he may occasionally wish himself back in his former lowlier lot. And family joys bring their anxieties to every home which has them. No one drinks here of an ocean of bliss but he thanks God for a "cup" of it, measured by One who knows what will be best for character. This is true even of spiritual joys. The time of ecstasy is followed by a season of depression. The Valley of Humiliation is passed, as well as the Delectable Mountains, by Christian in his pilgrimage. Nowhere on earth can we say, "I am satisfied;" but many, like the psalmist, can exclaim, "I shall be satisfied."

(2) Our griefs are limited also. They are proportioned to our strength, adapted for our improvement. Even in the saddest bereavement there is much to moderate our grief if we will but receive it: gratitude for all our dear one was and did; gladness over all the testimonies of love and esteem in which he was held; hope that by-and-by there shall be the reunion, where there shall be no more sorrow and sighing, and where "God shall wipe away all tears from our eyes." God does not let an ocean of sadness surge up and overwhelm us, but gives us a cup, which we may drink in fellowship with Christ in his sufferings.

2. The phrase in our text suggests not only measurement, but loving control. Our Lord recognized, as we may humbly do, that the cup was filled and proffered by him whom he addressed as "Abba, Father." In one sense the events in Gethsemane and on Calvary were the results of natural causes. Integrity and sinlessness called forth the antagonism of those whose sins were thereby rebuked. Plain-spoken denunciations of the ecclesiastical leaders aroused their undying hate, and no hatred is more malignant than that of irreligious theologians. Judas, disappointed and abashed, was a ready instrument for evil work. Yet, behind all this, One unseen was carrying out his eternal purpose, fulfilling his promise, "The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head." Hence Jesus speaks not of the plot accomplished by his foes, but of the cup given him by the Father. We are at an infinite remove from him, yet, as the same law which controls worlds controls insects, so the truth which held good with the Son of man holds good also with us. We may recognize God's overruling in man's working, and accept every measure of experience as provided and proffered by our Father's hand.

II. THE PURPOSE OF ITS APPOINTMENT. That it comes from our "Father" shows that it has a purpose, and that it is one of love, not of cruelty. It is not like the cup of hemlock Socrates received from his foes, but like that potion you give your child that he may be refreshed, or strengthened, or cured.

1. Sometimes the purpose respects ourselves. Even of Jesus Christ, the sinless One, it is said he was "made perfect through sufferings;" that as our Brother he might feel for us, and as our High Priest might sympathize, being "touched with the feeling of our infirmities." Much more is the experience of life a blessing to us who are imperfect and sinful; correcting our worldliness, and destroying our self-confidence.

2. Sometimes the purpose respects others. It was so with our Lord pre-eminently. He "came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many." "None of us liveth unto himself." If our cup of blessing runs over, its overflowings, whether of wealth, or strength, or spiritual joy, are for the good of those around us. If our lot be one of suffering, we may in it witness for our Lord, and from it learn to console others with the comfort wherewith we ourselves have been comforted of God. - A.R.







Which was named Gethsemane.
I. THE PLACE OF THE CONFLICT CALLS FOR A BRIEF NOTICE.

II. THE STORY OF THE CONFLICT. Its intensity is the first fact in the story that strikes us. "His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling to the ground." This conflict wrung from the Saviour a great cry. What was it? "O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt." We have a glimpse of the conflict carried on by Christ for us, single-handed.

III. THE SLEEP OF THE DISCIPLES WHILST THIS CONFLICT WAS GOING ON.

(Charles Stanford, D. D.)

The Preacher's Monthly.
I. Gethsemane suggests to reverent faith our blessed Redeemer's longing for human sympathy.

II. It reminds us of the sacredness of human sorrow and Divine communion.

III. It reveals the overwhelming fulness of the Redeemer's sorrow.

IV. It reminds us of the will of Christ yielded to the will of the Father.

V. It has lessons and influences for our own hearts.

(The Preacher's Monthly.)

I. WOE'S BITTEREST CUP SHOULD BE TAKEN WHEN IT IS THE MEANS OF HIGHEST USEFULNESS. Wasted suffering is the climax of suffering. Affliction's furnace heat loses its keenest pangs for those who can see the form of One like unto the Son of Man walking with them by example, and know that they are ministering to the world's true joy and life, in some degree, as He did.

II. FROM OUR LORD'S EXAMPLE WE LEARN THE HELPFULNESS IN SORROW OF RELIANCE UPON HUMAN AND DIVINE COMPANIONSHIP COMBINED. But to do both in proper proportion is not easy. Some hide from both earth and heaven as much as possible. Others lean wholly upon human supports; others, yet, turn to God in a seclusion to which the tenderest offices of friends are unwelcome. Our Lord's divinity often appears plainest in his symmetrical union of traits, mainly remark. able because of their combination. He was at once the humblest and boldest of men; the farthest from sin and the most compassionate towards the returning prodigal; the meekest and the most commanding. So, in the garden agony, he leaned upon human and Divine supports; the one as indispensable as the other. Whatever the situation, we are not to act the recluse. Life's circles need us and we need them. Neither are we to forget the Father in heaven. Storms and trial only increase His ready sympathy and succour.

III. OUR LORD'S CRUCIAL OBEDIENCE IN THE GARDEN AGONY REFLECTS THE MAJESTY OF THE HUMAN WILL AND ITS POSSIBLE MASTERY OF EVERY TRIAL IN PERFECT OBEDIENCE TO THE DIVINE WILL. However superhuman Jesus' suffering, He was thoroughly human in it. He had all our faculties, and used them as we may use ours. It is no small encouragement that the typical Man gives us an example of perfect obedience, at a cost unknown before or since. In the mutual relations of the human and Divine wills all merit is achieved and all character constructed. Learned authors dwell with deserved interest upon the world's "decisive battles," the pivots of destiny. The soul's future for time and eternity turns upon contests in which the will is in chief command. Intellect and sensibilities participate, but they are always subordinate. It were helpful to bear this in mind under every exposure. Let the inquiry be quick and constant, What saith the will? Is that steady and unflinching?

IV. JESUS' SOUL COULD HAVE BEEN "SORROWFUL EVEN UNTO DEATH" ONLY AS HIS SUFFERINGS WERE VICARIOUS. He was always sublimely heroic. Why such agony now? It was something far deadlier than death. It was the burden and mystery of the world's sin. The Lamb of God was slain for us in soul agony rather than by physical pain. His soul formed the soul of His sufferings.

V. GETHSEMANE'S DARKNESS PAINTS SIN'S GUILT AND RUIN IN FAITHFUL AND ENDURING COLOUR. It is easy to think lightly of sin. Having never known guilt, Christ met the same hidings of the Divine countenance as do the guilty. This was man's disobedience in its relation with God's law and judgment.

VI. GETHSEMANE THROWS PORTENTOUS LIGHT UPON THE WOE OF LOST SOULS. He suffered exceptionally, but He was also a typical sufferer; every soul has possibilities beyond our imagination; and terrible the doom when these possibilities are fulfilled in the direction to which Gethsemane points.

VII. OUR LESSON GIVES TERRIBLE EMPHASIS TO THE FACT AND SERIOUSNESS OF IMPOSSIBILITIES WITH GOD. Our time tends strongly towards lax notions of the Divine character and law and of the conditions of salvation. The will and fancy erect their own standards. Religion and obedience are to be settled according to individual notions, a subjective affair. Our Lord's agonized words, "If it be possible," establish the rigidity and absoluteness of governmental and spiritual conditions. God's will and plans are objective realities; they have definite and all-important direction and demands. Man should not think of being a law unto himself either in conduct or belief; least of all should he sit in judgment upon the revealed Word, fancying that any amount or kind of inner light is a true and sufficient test of its legitimacy and authority. But, how futile all attempts at fathoming Gethsemane's lessons.

(H. L. B. Speare.)

I. GETHSEMANE SAW CHRIST'S AGONY ON ACCOUNT OF SIN.

II. GETHSEMANE WAS A WITNESS OF CHRIST'S DEVOTION IN THE HOUR OF DISTRESS.

III. GETHSEMANE WAS A WITNESS OF CHRIST'S RESIGNATION TO THE WILL OF GOD.

IV. GETHSEMANE WAS A WITNESS OF CHRIST'S SYMPATHY WITH, AND AFFECTION FOR, HIS TRIED FOLLOWERS.

(J. H. Hitchens.)

I. Let us notice, in the outset, THE SUDDEN EXPERIENCE WHICH LED TO THIS ACT OF SUPPLICATION. He began to be "sore amazed and to be very heavy." Evidently something new had come to Him; either a disclosure of fresh trial, or a violence of unusual pain under it. Here it is affecting to find in our Divine Lord so much of recognized and simple human nature He desired to be alone, but He planned to have somebody He loved and trusted within call. His grief was too burdensome for utter abandonment. Hence came the demand for sympathy He made, and the persistence in reserve he retained, both of which are so welcome and instructive. For here emphatically, as perhaps nowhere else, we are "with Him in the garden." Oh, how passionately craving of help, and yet how majesterially rejectful of impertinent condolence, are some of these moments we have in our mourning, "when our souls retire upon their reserves, and will open their deepest recesses only to God! Our secret is unshared, our struggle is unrevealed to men. Yet we love those who love us just as much as ever. It is helpful to find that even our Lord Jesus had some feelings of which He could not tell John. He "went away" (Matthew 26:44).

II. Let us, in the second place, inquire concerning THE EXACT MEANING OF THIS SINGULAR SUPPLICATION. In those three intense prayers was the Saviour simply afraid of death? Was that what our version makes the Apostle Paul say He "feared"? Was He just pleading there under the olives for permission to put off the human form now, renounce the "likeness of men" (Philippians 2:7, 8), which He had taken upon Him, slip back into heaven inconspicuously by some sort of translation which would remove Him from the power of Pilate, so that when Judas had done his errand "quickly," and had arrived with the soldiers, Jesus would be mysteriously missing, and the traitor would find nothing but three harmless comrades there asleep on the grass? That is to say, are we ready to admit that our Lord and Master seriously proposed to go back to His Divine Father's bosom at this juncture, leaving the prophecies unfulfilled, the redemption unfinished, the very honour of Jehovah sullied with a failure? Does it offer any help in dealing with such a conjecture to insist that this was only a moment of weakness in His "human nature?" Would this make any difference as a matter of fact for Satan to discover that he had only been contending with another Adam, after all? Would the lost angels any the less exult over the happy news of a celestial defeat because they learned that the "seed of the woman" had not succeeded in bruising the serpent's head by reason of His own alarm at the last? Oh, no: surely no! Jesus had said, when in the far-back counsels of eternity the covenant of redemption was made, "Lo, I come: I delight to do Thy will, O my God" (Psalm 40:7, 8). He could have had no purpose now, we may be evermore certain, of withdrawing the proffer of Himself to suffer for men. There can be no doubt that the "cup" which our Lord desired might "pass from" His lips, and yet was willing to drink if there could be no release from it, was the judicial wrath of God discharged upon Him as a culprit vicariously before the law, receiving the awful curse due to human sin. We reject all notion of mere physical illness or exhaustion as well as all conjecture of mere sentimental loneliness under the abandonment of friends. In that supreme moment when He found that He, sinless in every particular and degree, must be considered guilty, and so that His heavenly Father's face and favour must at least for a while be withdrawn from Him, He was, in despite of all His courageous preparation, surprised and almost frightened to discover how much His own soul was beginning to shudder and recoil from coming into contact with sin of any sort, even though it was only imputed. Evidently it seemed to His infinitely pure nature horrible to be put in a position, however false, such as that His adorable Father would be compelled to draw the mantle over His face. This shocked Him unutterably. He shrank back in consternation when He saw He must become loathsome in the sight of heaven because of the "abominable thing" God hated (Jeremiah 44:4). Hence, we conceive the prayer covered only that. That which appears at first a startling surrender of redemption as a whole, is nothing more than a petition to be relieved from what He hoped might be deemed no necessary part of the curse He was bearing for others. He longed, as He entered unusual darkness, just to receive the usual light. It was as if He had said to His heavenly Father: "The pain I understood, the curse I came for. Shame, obloquy, death, I care nothing for them. I only recoil from being loaded so with foreign sin that I cannot be looked upon with any allowance. I am in alarm when I think of the prince of this world coming and finding something in me, when hitherto he had nothing. I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint, my heart is like wax, when I think of the taunt that the Lord I trusted no longer delights in Me; this is like laughing God to scorn. Is there no permitted discrimination between a real sinner, and a substitute only counted such before the law in this one particular? All things are possible with Thee; make it possible now for Thee to see Thy Son, and yet not seem to see the imputed guilt He bears! Yet even this will I endure, if so it must be in order that I may fulfil all righteousness; Thy will, not Mine, be done!"

III. Again, let us observe carefully THE EXTRAORDINARY RANGE WHICH THIS PRAYER IN THE GARDEN TOOK. It is not worth while even to appear to be playing upon an accidental collocation of words in the sacred narrative; but why should it be asserted that any inspired words are accidental? The whole history of Immanuel's sufferings that awful night contains no incident more strikingly suggestive than the record of the distance He kept between Himself and His disciples. It is the act as well as the language which is significant. Mark says, "He went forward a little." Luke says, "He was withdrawn from them about a stone's east." Matthew says, "He went a little farther." So now we know that this one petition of our Lord was the final, secret, supreme whisper of His innermost heart. The range of such a prayer was over His whole nature. It exhausted His entire being. It covered the humanity it represented. In it for Himself and for us "He went a little farther" than ever He had in His supplication gone before. One august monarch rules over this fallen world, and holds all human hearts under His sway. His name is Pain. His image and superscription is upon every coin that passes current in this mortal life. He claims fealty from the entire race of man. And, sooner or later, once, twice, or a hundred times, as the king chooses, and not as the subject wills, each soul has to put on its black garment, go sedately and sufferingly on its sad journey to pay its loyal tribute, precisely as Joseph and Mary were compelled to go up to Bethlehem to be taxed. When this tyrant Pain summons us to come and discharge his dues, it is the quickest of human instincts which prompts us to seek solitude. That seems to be the universal rule (Zechariah 12:12-14). But now we discover from this symbolic picture that, whenever any Christian goes away from other disciples deeper into the solitudes of his own Gethsemane, he almost at once draws nearer to the Saviour he needs. For our Lord just now "went forward a little." There He is, on ahead of us all in experience! It is simply and wonderfully true of Jesus always, no matter how severe is the suffering into which for their discipline He leads His chosen, He Himself has taken His position in advance of them. No human lot was ever so forlorn, so grief-burdened, so desolate, as was that of the Great Life given to redeem it. No path ever reached so distantly into the region of heart trying agony as that it might not still see that peerless Christ of God "about a stone's cast" beyond it, kneeling in some deeper shadows of His own. No believer ever went so far into his lonely Gethsemane but that he found his Master had gone "a little farther."

"Christ did not send, but came Himself, to save;

The ransom price He did not lend, but gave;

Christ died, the Shepherd for the sheep, —

We only fall asleep."

IV. Finally, let us inquire after THE SUPREME RESULTS OF THIS SUPPLICATION OF OUR LORD.

1. Consider the High Priest of our profession (Hebrews 12:2-4). What good would it do to pray, if Christ's prayer was unsuccessful?

2. But was it answered? Certainly (Hebrews 5:7-9). The cup remained (John 18:11), but he got acquiescence (Matthew 26:42), and strength (Luke 22:43).

3. Have we been "with Him in the garden"? Then we have found a similar cup" (Mark 10:38, 39).

(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)

It is a delightful thing to be with Jesus on the mountain of transfiguration, where heavenly visitants are seen, and a heavenly voice is heard. It would seem good to be always there. But they who would follow Jesus through this earthly life, must be with Him also out on the stormy sea in the gloomy night; and again they must come with Him into the valley of the shadow of death. There are bright, glad clays to the Christian believer, when faith and hope and love are strong. But there are days also of trial and sorrow, when it seems as if faith must fail, and hope must die, and love itself must cease. It is one thing for a young couple to stand together in light and joy, surrounded by friends, at their marriage reception, or to share each other's pleasure on their wedding tour. It is quite another thing for a married pair to watch together through the weary night over a sick and suffering child, and to close the eyes of their darling in its death sleep, in the gray of the gloomy morning. Yet the clouds are as sure as the sunlight on the path of every chosen disciple of Jesus who follows his Master unswervingly; and he who never comes with Jesus to a place named Gethsemane has chosen for himself another path than that wherein the Saviour leads the way.

(H. Clay Trumbull.)

I. WITH REGARD TO THE POSITION OUR LORD WAS IN, HE STOOD THERE AS THE GREAT SIN BEARER. Here, beloved, we see what the burden was which our Lord bore: it was our sins.

II. BUT NOW OBSERVE, SECONDLY, THE GREAT WEIGHT OF THIS BURDEN. Who can declare it?

(J. H. Evans, M. A.)

My life has been to me a mystery of love. I know that God's education of each man is in perfect righteousness. I know that the best on earth have been the greatest sufferers, because they were the best, and like gold could stand the fire and be purified by it. I know this, and a great deal more, and yet the mercy of God to me is such a mystery that I have been tempted to think I was utterly unworthy of suffering. God have mercy on my thoughts! I may be unable to stand suffering. I do not know. But I lay myself at Thy feet, and say, 'Not that I am prepared, but that Thou art good and wise, and wilt prepare me.'"

(Norman Macleod.)

Of all the smaller English missions, the Livingstone Congo stands conspicuous for its overflowing of zeal and life and promise; and of all its agents, young M'Call was the brightest; but he was struck down in mid-work. His last words were recorded by a stranger who visited him. Let each one of us lay them to our hearts. "Lord, I gave myself, body, mind, and soul, to Thee, I consecrated my whole life and being to Thy service; and now, if it please Thee to take myself, instead of the work which I would do for Thee, what is that to me? Thy will be done."

(R. N. Cust.)

It is beyond our power to ascertain the precise amount of suffering sustained by our Lord; for a mystery necessarily encircles the person of Jesus, in which two natures are combined. This mystery may ever prevent our knowing how His humanity was sustained by His divinity. Still, undoubtedly, the general representation of Scripture would lead to the conclusion, that though He was absolute God, with every power and prerogative of Deity, yet was Christ, as man, left to the same conflicts, and dependent on the same assistances as any of His followers. He differed, indeed, immeasurably, in that He was conceived without the taint of original sin, and therefore was free from our evil propensities: He lived the life of faith which He worked out for Himself, and He lived it to gain for us a place in His Father's kingdom. Although He was actually to meet affliction like a man, He was left without any external support from above. This is very remarkably shown by His agony in the garden, when an angel was sent to strengthen Him. Wonderful that a Divine person should have craved assistance, and that He did not draw on His own inexhaustible resources! But, it was as a man that He grappled with the powers of darkness — as a man who could receive no celestial aid. And, if this be a true interpretation of the mode in which our Lord met persecution and death, we must be right, in contrasting Him with martyrs, when we assert an immeasurable difference between His sufferings, and those of men who have died nobly for the truth: from Him the light of the Father's countenance was withdrawn, whilst unto them it was conspicuously displayed. This may explain why Christ was confounded and overwhelmed, where others had been serene and undaunted. Still, the question arises, — Why was Christ thus deserted of the Father? Why were those comforts and supports withheld from Him which have been frequently vouchsafed to His followers? No doubt it is a surprising as well as a piteous spectacle that of our Lord shrinking from the anguish of what should befall Him, whilst others have faced death, in its most frightful forms, with unruffled composure. You never can account for this, except by acknowledging that our Lord was no ordinary man, meeting death as a mere witness for truth, but that he was actually a sin offering; bearing the weight of the world's iniquities. His agony — His doleful cries — His sweating, as it were, great drops of blood; these are not to be explained on the supposition of His being merely an innocent man, hunted down by fierce and unrelenting enemies. Had He been only this, why should He be apparently so excelled in confidence and composure by a long line of martyrs and confessors? Christ wad more than this. Though He had done no sin, yet was He in the place of the sinful, bearing the weight of Divine indignation, and made to feel the terrors of Divine wrath. Innocent, He was treated as guilty! He had made Himself the substitute of the guilty — hence His anguish and terror. Bear in mind, that the sufferer who exhibits, as you might think, so much less of composure and firmness than has been evinced by many when called on to die for truth — bear in mind, that this sufferer has had a world's iniquity laid on His shoulders; that God is now dealing with Him as the representative of apostate man, and exacting from Him the penalties due to unnumbered transgressions; and you will cease to wonder though you may still almost shudder at words, so expressive of agony — "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death."

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

It is on the sufferings of the soul that we would fix your attention; for these, we doubt not, were the mighty endurances of the Redeemer — these pursued Him to His very last moments, until He paid the last fragment of our debts. You will perceive that it was in the soul rather than in the body that our blessed Saviour made atonement for transgression. He had put Himself in the place of the criminal, so far as it was possible for an innocent man to assume the position of the guilty; and standing in the place of the criminal, with guilt imputed to Him, He had to bear the punishment that misdeeds had incurred. You must be aware that anguish of the soul rather than of the body is the everlasting portion of sinners; and though, of course, we cannot think that our Lord endured precisely what sinners had deserved, for he could have known nothing of the stings and bodes of conscience beneath which they must eternally writhe, yet forasmuch as he was exhausting their curse — a curse which was to drive ruin into their soul as well as rack the body with unspeakable pain — we might well expect that the soul's anguish of a surety or substitute would be felt even more than the bodily: and that external affliction, however vast and accumulated, would be comparatively less in its rigour or accompaniments, than His internal anguish, which is not to be measured or imagined. This expectation is certainly quite borne out by the statements of Scripture, if carefully considered. Indeed it is very observable that when our Lord is set before us as exhibiting signs of anguish and distress there was no bodily suffering whatever — none but what was caused mentally. I refer, as you must be aware, to the scene in the garden, as immediately connected with our text, when the Redeemer manifested the most intense grief and horror, His sweat being as it were great drops of blood — a scene which the most callous can scarcely encounter: in this case there was no nail, no spear. Ay, though there was the prospect of the cross, there was hardly fear. It was the thought of dying as a malefactor, which so overcame the Redeemer, that He needed strength by an angel from heaven. That it was that wrung out the thrilling exclamation: "My soul is exceeding sorrowful." It is far beyond us to tell you what were the spiritual endurances which so distressed and bore down the Redeemer. There is a veil over the anguish of the incarnate God which no mortal hand may attempt to remove. I can only suppose that holy as He was — incapable of sinning in thought or deed — He had a piercing and overwhelming sense of the criminality of sin — of the dishonour which it attached to the world — of the ruin which it was bringing on man: He must have felt as no other being could, the mighty fearfulness of sin — linked alike with God and with man — the brethren of sinners, and the being sinned against. Who can doubt that, as He bore our transgressions in our nature, He must have been wounded as with a two-edged sword — the one edge lacerating Him as He was jealous of divine glory, and the other as He longed for human happiness? Though we cannot explain what passed in the soul of the Redeemer, we would impress on you the truth, that it was in the soul rather than in the body that those dire pangs were endured which exhausted the curse denounced against sin. Let not any think that mere bodily anguish went as an equivalent for the miseries and the tortures which must have been eternally exacted from every human being. It would take away much of the terribleness of the future doom of the impenitent, to represent those sufferings as only, or chiefly, bodily. Men will argue the nature of the doom, not the nature of the suffering capacity in its stead. And, certainly, a hell without mental agony, would be a paradise in comparison with what we believe to be the pandemonium, where the soul is the rack, and conscience the executioner. Go not away from Calvary, with thoughts of nothing but suffering a death by being nailed to a cross and left to expire after long torture! Go away, rather thinking of the horror which had taken hold of the soul of the forsaken sufferer; and as you carry with you a remembrance of the doleful spectacle, and smite your breasts at the thought of His piteous cry — a cry more startling than the crash of the earthquake that announced His death — lay ye to heart His unimaginable endurances which extort the cry: "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death."

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

It is this death — this travail of the soul, which from the beginning to the end of a Christian life is effecting or producing that holier creature which is finally to be presented without spot or wrinkle, meet for the inheritance of the saints in light. It is in the pangs of the soul, that he feels the renewing influence of the Holy Ghost, realized in the birth of the Christian character, who in any age of the world recovers the defaced image of his God. I think it gives a preciousness to every means of grace, thus to consider them as brought into being by the agonies of the Redeemer. It would go far, were this borne in mind, to defend it against the resistance or neglect, if it were impressed on you that there is not a single blessing of which you are conscious, that did not spring from this sorrow — this sorrow unto death of the Redeemer's soul. Could you possibly make light, as perhaps you now do, of those warnings and secret admonitions which come you know not whence, prompting you to forsake certain sins and give heed to certain duties, if you were impressed that it was through the very soul of the Redeemer being "exceeding sorrowful, even unto death," that there was obtained for you the privilege of access to God by prayer, or the having offers made to you of pardon and reconciliation? Do you think you could kneel down irreverently or formally, or that you could treat the ordinance of preaching as a mere human institution, in regard to which, it mattered little whether you were in earnest or not? The memory that Christ's soul travailed in agony to procure for you those blessings — which, because they are abundant, you may be tempted to underrate — would necessarily impart a preciousness to the whole. You could not be indifferent to the bitter cry; you could not look languidly on the scene as you saw the cross. This is a fact; it was only by sorrow — sorrow unto death of the Redeemer's soul — that any of the ordinary means of grace — those means that you are daily enjoying, have been procured. Will you think little of those means? Will you neglect them? Will you trifle with them? Will you not rather feel that what cost so much to buy, it must be fatal to despise? Neither, as we said, is it the worth only of the means of grace that you may learn from the mighty sorrow by which they were purchased; it is also your own worth, the worth of your own soul. When we would speak of the soul and endeavour to impress men with a sense of its value, we may strive to set forth the nature of its properties, its powers, its capacities, its destinies, but we can make very little way; we show little more than our ignorance, for search how we will the soul is a mystery; it is like Deity, of which it is the spark; it hides itself by its own light; and eludes by dazzling the inquirer. You will remember, that our Lord emphatically asked: "What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" It is implied in the question, that if the whole world were offered in barter — the world, with all its honours and its riches — he would be the veriest of fools who would consent to the exchange, and would be a loser to an extent beyond thought, in taking creation and surrendering his soul. Then I hear you say, "This is all a theory!" It may be so. "The world in one scale, is but a particle of dust to the soul in the other! We should like to see an actual exchange: this might assure us of the untold worth that you wish to demonstrate." And, my brethren, you shall see a human soul put on one side and the equivalent on the other. You shall see an exchange! Not the exchange — the foul exchange which is daily, ay, hourly! made — the exchange of the soul for a bauble, for a shadow; an exchange, which even those who make it would shrink from if they thought on what they were doing — would shrink from with horror, if they would know how far they are losers and not gainers by the bargain. The exchange we have to exhibit is a fair exchange. What is given for the soul is what the soul is worth. Come with us, and strive to gaze on the glories of the invisible God — He who has grieved in the soul, "for He emptied Himself, and made Himself of no reputation," that the soul might be saved! Come with us to the stable of Bethlehem! Come with us to Calvary! The amazing accumulation of which you are spectator — the fearful sorrow, on which you hardly dare to look — the agony of Him who had done no sin — the agony of Him who was the Lord of glory — the death of Him who was the Prince of Light — this was given for the soul; by this accumulation was redemption effected. Is there not here an exchange — an exchange actually made, with which we might prove it impossible to overrate the value of the soul? If you read the form of the question — "What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" you will see it implies that it is not within the empire of wealth to purchase the soul. But cannot this assume the form of another question — What would God give in exchange for the soul? Here we have an answer, not of supposition, but of fact: we tell you what God has given — He has given Himself.

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

A minister, being asked by a friend, during his last illness, whether he thought himself dying, answered: "Really, friend, I care not whether I am or not. If I die, I shall be with God; and, if I live, God will be with me."

During the siege of Barcelona, in 1705, Captain Carleton witnessed the following affecting incident, which he relates in his memoirs: "I saw an old officer, having his only son with him, a fine young man about twenty years of age, going into their tent to dine. Whilst they were at dinner a shot took off the head of the son. The father immediately rose, and first looking down upon his headless child, and then lifting up his eyes to heaven, whilst the tears ran down his cheeks, only said, 'Thy will be done!'"

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