Man of Sorrows

  • By Pastor Boffey
  • on Wednesday, July 20, 2016
Matthew 26:36-40 (36) Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. (37) And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. (38) Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. (39) And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. (40) And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? Isaiah prophesied that Messiah would be “...a man of sorrows...” (ISA 53:3). Jesus' earlier weepings (LUK 19:41; JOH 11:35) were nothing in comparison with the sorrows His soul experienced as His death approached. A few days earlier, Jesus had said, “Now is my soul troubled...” (JOH 12:27) but in Gethsemane He allowed His soul to be very “...acquainted with grief...” (ISA 53:3) and “...exceeding sorrowful, even unto death...” (MAT 26:39). This was a voluntary and willing act as part of His being “...obedient unto death...” (PHIL 2:8) as the Father designed to put him to grief and make his soul an offering for sin (ISA 53:10). This the Father honored: “Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death...” (ISA 53:12). That was the ultimate drink offering of strong wine poured out unto God (NUM 28:7), the one which truly cheered Him (c/w JDG 9:13): It “...pleased the LORD to bruise him...” (ISA 53:10) outside and inside, body and soul. He was not the unmilled Corn (kernel) of heaven but the Bread of heaven on Whom we spiritually feed (JOH 6:51), and “Bread corn is bruised...” (ISA 28:28); He was “…bruised for our iniquities… (ISA 53:5). Our text shows that Jesus took Peter, James and John with Him to watch in prayer. He desired to be in the midst of three gathered together in His name (c/w MAT 18:20), and the supporting prayers of beloved brethren might have strengthened Him in His sorrows. But the only strengthening he received was from an angel, as Luke's account shows: (LUK 22:43) And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. There are times when dedicated believers will have no support from men in a time of great trial but God will provide directly, as when all men forsook Paul: “...Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me...” (2TI 4:16-17). Jesus could have called for twelve legions of angels to intervene but the scriptures took precedence (MAT 26:53-54), and therefore being “...made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death...” (HEB 2:9), He Who made the angels humbly accepted help from one. Since an angel from heaven dare not intervene without God's say-so nor say anything contrary to Scripture (GAL 1:8), the angel no doubt strengthened him with strength in his soul (c/w PSA 138:3) by reminding Him of the Father's promises of limited soul-suffering and of bodily preservation (ACT 2:25-27) and of the joy of the Father that would follow: (ACT 2:26) Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: (ACT 2:27) Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. (ACT 2:28) Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance. (HEB 12:2) Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Scripture says, “...the joy of the LORD is your strength” (NEH 8:10). The certainty of being in the presence of God in heaven to this day remains the strengthening joy of believers. For Jesus, the oil of gladness with which He was before ordained to be anointed (PSA 45:6-7) had to wait, but the certainty of it buoyed him up to save Him from giving up. How often have we, when the present circumstance was burdensome and the temptation to yield strong, been likewise “...saved by hope...” (ROM 8:24)? As for Peter, James and John, instead of bowing their knees unto the Father that Jesus might be strengthened inwardly (c/w EPH 3:14-16), they fell asleep. The word “comfort” primarily means “strengthen” so it might be said of Peter, James and John that they were no better than Job's three friends in his awful trial, “...miserable comforters...” (JOB 16:2). Saints ought to be benefits to troubled brethren, not burdens, and we do well to recognize that inward torment is very real and deserving of our prayers and support. Peter, James and John were in a favored position to witness Christ's soul-sufferings. They had earlier been selected to attend His prayer on the Mount of Transfiguration where His decease at Jerusalem was discussed (LUK 9:28-36) but their prayer support was frustrated by sleep then, too (LUK 9:32). Sleep is needed. Prayer is needed. A circumspect Christian will not disregard their respective seasons, but the former must sometimes be set aside when the situation demands it. David once said: (PSA 132:4) I will not give sleep to mine eyes, or slumber to mine eyelids, (PSA 132:5) Until I find out a place for the LORD, an habitation for the mighty God of Jacob. For the sake of His church for which He would give Himself (EPH 5:25), and for the setting up of its N.T. form on earth which would be His “...habitation of God through the Spirit” (EPH 2:22), Jesus prayed through His torments rather than sleep. Earlier, Jesus had slept soundly in the midst of a boat-swamping, life-threatening storm (MAR 4:37-38), but here the waters entered into His soul (c/w PSA 69:1; PSA 18:4-5), the dark clouds of eternal justice loomed large, and in obedience to His mission He could not command, “...Peace, be still...” (MAR 4:39). But He could pray, which He did. The brethren could have helped in prayer, but they did not. The burden under which Jesus labored was great and so also were his labors in prayer great. HEB 5:7 describes His pleas as strong crying. He was only a short distance from the disciples but if they even heard His prayer, they made no show of concern since they were found sleeping. But Jesus went on praying, and He did so more earnestly in agony (violent convulsion of grief) even after the angel strengthened Him: (LUK 22:43) And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. (LUK 22:44) 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. NOTE: Times of great agonizing of soul may sap us of much strength but there may yet be, indeed should be, strong crying to God (HEB 5:7). Christ's friends slept but not His enemies (MAT 26:47). It is when the good servants sleep that the enemy works (MAT 13:25). PRO 4:16 says of the wicked, “For they sleep not, except they have done mischief...” This property of sleeplessness which marked both Christ and the wicked shows further how Christ was made wickedness for our sakes (2CO 5:21). While the disciples slept for sorrow (LUK 22:45), the enemy was wide awake in diligent anticipation of the perverse joy that was set before them: the capture, prosecution and execution of the One Who condemned them. HEB 5:7 also shows that Christ feared. But by the time the soldiers arrived, He was ready to meet them and the bodily sufferings that would add to His troubles (MAT 26:46-50). This of itself was a great victory, for the overcoming of fear is one of the most difficult battles a man fights. 1JO 4:18 says that “...perfect love casteth out fear...” Jesus' perfect love of the Father (JOH 14:31), of righteousness (HEB 1:9) and of His elect (JOH 13:1; ROM 9:11-13) overcame the fear and set forth a model of perfect charity: (1CO 13:4) Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, (1CO 13:5) Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; (1CO 13:6) Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; (1CO 13:7) Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. We are constrained to agree with the hymn, “Man of Sorrows, what a name For the Son of God who came! Ruined sinners to reclaim: Hallelujah, What a Savior!”

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