Page images
PDF
EPUB

EXPOSITION XVI.

JOHN XVIII. 1-14.

When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over the

brook Cedron, where was a garden, into the which he entered, and his disciples. And Judas also, which betrayed him, knew the place ; for Jesus ofttimes resorted thither with his disciples. Judas then, having received a band of men, and officers, from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons. Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye? They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am he. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them. As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground. Then asked he them again, Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus answered, I have told you that I am he : if therefore ye seek me, let these go their way: That the saying might be fulfilled which he spake, Of them which thou gavest me have I lost none. Then Simon Peter, having a svord, drew it, and smote the high priest's servant, and cut off his right ear.

The servant's name was Malchvs. Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath : the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it ? Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound him, and led him away to Annas first; for he was father-in-law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year. Now Caiaphas was he which gave counsel to the Jews, that it was expedient that one man should die for the people.

A FTER our Lord had offered up his prayer to the Father, he left the room where he and his disciples had eaten the Passover, and proceeded to the Mount of Olives, the scene of his fierce trial and bitter agony. - When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over

T

[ocr errors]

the brook Cedron," which ran to the south-east of the city, through a dark shady valley of the same name, separating Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, "where was a garden, into the which he entered with his disciples.” This was probably the property of some one who was friendly to Jesus; and it seems as if it had been usual for him to frequent it at night for the purpose of retirement, meditation, and prayer. “ And Judas also which betrayed him, knew the place; for Jesus ofttimes with his disciples resorted thither.”

Doubtless that garden had often witnessed, during the silent watches of the night, the Lord Jesus, not only strengthening himself by communion with his heavenly Father, but also engaged in the most earnest intercessions for his people whom he was redeeming. The first Adam in the Garden of Eden, had fallen under the power of the tempter. The “Lord from heaven," in the Garden of Gethsemane, triumphed over all the powers of darkness, which seemed then to return with redoubled vigour to assail him. From the Garden of Eden with its cloudless sky, and its varied and glorious beauties, there flowed forth a stream of sin, misery, and death. From the garden of the Mount of Olives, there issued out of the depth of the Saviour's passion a stream which, appearing at the cross, has ever since been flowing with a wider and a deeper channel, carrying life into the “region of the shadow of death ;” until at length its blessed influence shall be found in every part of the world, causing light and life and holiness and peace to spring up in every clime, with a moral and a spiritual loveliness, so rich and fair, that the “wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad, and the desert rejoice and blossom as the rose.”

You will observe that the narrative in St. John's Gospel omits all notice of our Lord's agony in the garden. The Evangelist had no intention of supplying a full and accurate detail of all the circumstances of his Master's life; he wrote long after the other Evangelists; and while his primary object appears to have been to bear an ample testimony to the great doctrine of the divinity of Christ, both by his own recorded sentiments, and by an extended account of some of the discourses of our Lord, he seems also to have used the opportunity thus afforded him of furnishing some most interesting matters of history which had been omitted by the others.

The account of our Lord's agony in the garden, however, had been largely narrated by the other sacred historians, and therefore he did not think it necessary to notice it in his gospel. Still, inasmuch as the account which we have of that agony is not only deeply affecting, but full of important instruction, I am desirous not to pass it over at the present time, but to bring it before you in several points of view, as these are presented to us in the various histories of the Evangelists.

Let us then follow our beloved, our suffering Master into the Garden of Gethsemane ; let us in spirit wait on the "Man of sorrows," gaze on the footmarks of his

“, passion, and from the darkness of the gloomy night which encompasses him, let us draw forth glorious rays of light for our sinful and sorrowing souls.

As Jesus entered on the scene of his mysterious sufferings, “ he began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy." The extent of the sufferings he endured may be faintly conceived from the description of one of the Evangelists; "and being in an agony, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood, falling down to the ground;” and from our Lord's own words,

[ocr errors]

“My soul is exceeding sorrowful even unto death "_“If it be possible, let this cup pass from me.” What the nature of these sufferings was, we cannot tell. Their cause however is clearly set forth—“The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all ; " "he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed.” Doubtless at this time the utmost malice of the “ rulers of the darkness of this world” was put forth against the Prince of Life ; doubtless they “came about him like water; doubtless they “ kept him in on every side," and assailed him with all their fiery darts. It was the hour given them, in which to bruise the heel of the woman's seed; but though they were thus permitted to afflict him, yet was it only a short time of triumph for them, for their power was soon crushed under the mighty hand of him whom they dared to assail.

And how did our Divine Master meet the terrible trials and sorrows of this hour? He met them by prayer. As he entered on the agony, he entered on the prayer. As the struggle increased, he "prayed more earnestly; continued unabated, so he continued “instant in prayer," to his heavenly Father. This was his support, his strength, his relief-communion with his father. An angel appeared “strengthening him," but it was an “angel from heaven," from his Father, and this it was that refreshed him. What a contrast is there in the outward circumstances here, and on the Mount of Transfiguration ; and yet the Spirit is the same. It was “as he prayed” that “ he was transfigured," and that “his raiment did shine." And now his prayer mingles with his agony and groans ; he "offers up supplication and prayers with strong crying and tears.”

as it

>

come

a

we

This contrast of circumstance, but similarity of spirit, furnishes an important lesson to us. If we would have heaven opened unto us—if we would have blessed foretastes of our heavenly inheritance, and as it were catch a glimpse of those glories which are laid up for us there, let us “pray without ceasing.” And if we would be safe in the “cloudy and dark day”— if we would then “in patience possess our souls," when the “sorrows of death

, compass us, and the pains of hell get hold upon us,” we shall “sigh and cry" unto God, we shall “ cast our care on him ;” and especially when our great spiritual adversary shall in like a flood ” upon us,

if would “ lift up a standard against him” which will make him quail before us, and be "put to confusion,” we shall be "praying always.” Prayer can brighten every joy, and lighten every sorrow. He who has the spirit of prayer, is

strengthened with all might by the Spirit in the inner man," independent of the smiles or the frowns of the world around him : whether his course is in the sunshine or the shade, he is “kept in perfect peace, having his mind stayed upon God.”

But as we observe the spirit in which our Master endured the agony in the garden, so the conduct of his disciples on that trying occasion is full of important instruction. They had hitherto "continued with him in his temptations ;” and now when the darkest hour arrived, he with the utmost condescension besought them, while he himself went alone to pray to his heavenly Father, to “tarry and watch.” And how did they fulfil the expressed desire of their Master? They fell asleep! And though twice he roused them to a sense of their danger,—“ Watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation," — still did they neglect to

. strengthen themselves as he exhorted them. One of the

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »