Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 12 (1897)


Ms 42, 1897

In Gethsemane


May 16, 1897

Portions of this manuscript are published in 11MR 345; CTr 266-268.

“And he came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him.” “And they came to a place which was named Gethsemane; and he saith to his disciples, sit ye here, while I shall pray. And he taketh with him Peter and James and John, and began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy; and he saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch. And he went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed, that, if it were possible, the cup might pass from him.” [Luke 22:39; Mark 14:32-35.] 12LtMs, Ms 42, 1897, par. 1

As Christ left the disciples, bidding them pray for themselves and for Him, He selected three—Peter, James, and John—and went still farther into the seclusion of the garden. These three disciples had seen His transfiguration; they had seen the heavenly visitors, Moses and Elias, talking with Jesus, and Christ desired their presence with Him on this occasion also. And He “began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.” [Matthew 26:37, 38.] 12LtMs, Ms 42, 1897, par. 2

Christ expressed His desire for human sympathy, and then withdrawing Himself from them about a stone’s cast, He fell on His face and prayed, saying, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless not my will, but thine be done.” [Luke 22:41, 42.] Then rising from the cold ground, He staggers to the place where He left His three disciples. “And he cometh, and findeth them sleeping and said unto Peter, Simon, sleepest thou? couldest not thou watch one hour? Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.” [Mark 14:37, 38.] Even in His great agony He is willing to excuse the weakness of His disciples. “The spirit truly is ready,” He said, “but the flesh is weak.” 12LtMs, Ms 42, 1897, par. 3

The superhuman agony with which He had been wrestling had brought Him to His disciples, longing for human companionship. But He was disappointed; they did not bring to Him the help His human nature craved. He expected more from them. Again superhuman agony comes upon His divine soul, and again He leaves His disciples, and prayed, saying, “O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me except I drink it, thy will be done. And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy. 12LtMs, Ms 42, 1897, par. 4

“And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words: “Father all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what thou wilt.” [Matthew 26:42-44; Mark 14:36.] “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.” [Luke 22:44.] 12LtMs, Ms 42, 1897, par. 5

Hear that agonizing prayer of Christ in the garden of Gethsemane! While the disciples were sleeping beneath the spreading branches of the olive trees, the Son of man—a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief—was prostrate upon the cold earth. As the agony of soul came upon Him, large blood drops of perspiration were forced from His pores, and with the falling dew moistened the sod of Gethsemane; and from the pale and quivering lips came the words, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless not my will, but thine be done.” [Matthew 26:39; Luke 22:42.] 12LtMs, Ms 42, 1897, par. 6

Here the mysterious cup trembled in His hand. Here the destiny of a lost world was hanging in the balance. Should He wipe the blood drops from His brow, and root from His soul the guilt of a perishing world, which was placing Him, all innocent, all undeserving, under the penalty of a just law? Should He refuse to become man’s substitute and surety? refuse to give him another trial, another probation? 12LtMs, Ms 42, 1897, par. 7

Separation from His Father, the punishment for transgression and sin, was to fall upon Him in order to magnify God’s law and testify to its immutability. And this was to forever settle the controversy between the Prince of God and Satan in regard to the changeless character of that law. 12LtMs, Ms 42, 1897, par. 8

The Majesty of heaven was as one bewildered with agony. No human being could endure such suffering; but Christ had contemplated this struggle. He had said to His disciples, “I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how am I straitened till it be accomplished.” “Now is the hour, and the power of darkness.” [Luke 12:50; 22:53.] 12LtMs, Ms 42, 1897, par. 9

Christ had not been forced to do this. He had volunteered to lay down His life to save the world. The claims of God’s government had been misapprehended through the deceptive words and works of Satan, and the necessity of a mediator was seen and felt by the Father and the Son. And now the great antitype of all the sacrificial offerings had come. In Christ type had met antitype. In Christ’s sacrifice of Himself was the substance which all the sacrifices had symbolized. 12LtMs, Ms 42, 1897, par. 10

In surrendering His spotless soul a living sacrifice, Jesus was bearing the sin of the world; He was enduring the curse of the law; He was sustaining the justice of God. He was now suffering under divine justice. He saw what justice meant. He felt that as man’s substitute and surety, He must be bound to the altar. “For our transgressions are multiplied before thee, and our sins testify against us; for our transgressions are with us; and as for our iniquities, we know them.” “And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his own arm brought salvation unto him, and his righteousness, it sustained him.” [Isaiah 59:12, 16.] 12LtMs, Ms 42, 1897, par. 11

The universe of heaven had watched with intense interest the entire life of Christ—every step from the manger to the present awful scene of momentous interest. The unfallen worlds were watching the result of this controversy. They beheld the Son of God, their loved Commander, in His superhuman agony, apparently dying on the field of battle to save a lost and perishing world. His soul agony, which three times forced from His pale and quivering lips the cry, “O my Father, if it be possible let this cup pass from me; nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt,” seemed to convulse all heaven. [Matthew 26:39.] 12LtMs, Ms 42, 1897, par. 12

Satan was urging upon Him all the force of his temptations. He presented before Him that the sin of the world so offensive to God, was chastisement too great. He would never again be looked upon as pure and holy and undefiled, as God’s only begotten Son. He had himself become a sinner, and would suffer the penalty of sin. 12LtMs, Ms 42, 1897, par. 13

Christ was now standing in a different attitude than He had ever done before. Hitherto He had stood as an intercessor for others; now He longs for an intercessor for Himself. Could His human nature bear the strain? Shall the sins of an apostate world, since Adam’s transgression to the close of time, be laid upon Him? Would He drink the cup? It was not yet too late to refuse to drink that awful cup of suffering, the wrath of His Father for sin and transgression. He might have said, “Let the willful transgressor receive the penalty for His sin, and I will go back to My Father.” But no; He did not make this choice. Although sin was the awful thing that had opened the flood gates of woe upon the world, He would become the propitiation for the sins of a race who had willed to sin. 12LtMs, Ms 42, 1897, par. 14

In the supreme crisis, when heart and soul are breaking under the load of sin, Gabriel is sent to strengthen Him. And while the angel supports His fainting form, Christ takes the bitter cup and consents to drink its contents. Before the suffering One comes up the wail of a lost and perishing world, and the words come from the bloodstained lips, “Nevertheless, if man must perish unless I drink this bitter cup, Thy will, not mine be done.” 12LtMs, Ms 42, 1897, par. 15

What a scene is this for ten thousand times ten thousands of angels, of seraphim, and cherubim to look upon. The whole universe of heaven listened to that prayer of Christ, and God was suffering in and with His Son. There was silence in heaven; no harp was touched. They see their Lord enclosed by legions of satanic forces, His human nature weighed down with a shuddering, mysterious dread. Everywhere He may look is a horror of great darkness, beyond the measurement of finite minds. 12LtMs, Ms 42, 1897, par. 16

And was all this suffering undergone to give men liberty to transgress the law of God? No; no. All this scene of suffering was because of the law transgressed, and to give all honor and respect to that law, not only to honor but to magnify the law, and yet save the sinner by enduring his penalty. Satan’s falsehood, that has placed the Christian world as transgressors of God’s law, would not have been found in such company, if his temptations had not taken with them as with Adam, and who, by their tradition had made void the law of God in the place of leading men to obedience of all its commands. 12LtMs, Ms 42, 1897, par. 17

Strengthened by the angel sent from heaven, Jesus arises in sweat and blood and agony and for the third time returns to His disciples. Jesus longed to see them. His human nature yearned for human sympathy. He longed to hear from them words that would bring Him some relief in His suffering. But He was disappointed. He found them sleeping in the hour of His bitterest agony. And the sight made angels grow sad. “What,” said the Saviour as He awakened them, “could ye not watch with me one hour?” [Verse 40.] 12LtMs, Ms 42, 1897, par. 18

Prophecy had declared that the “Mighty One,” the holy One from Mount Paran, was to tread the wine press alone; “of the people there was none” with Him. [Habakkuk 3:3; Isaiah 63:1-3.] His own arm brought salvation; He was ready for the sacrifice. The fearful crisis was past. That agony which none but God could endure, Christ had borne. To His disciples He said, “Sleep on now, and take your rest.” [Matthew 26:45.] Only a short time before they had made Christ the strongest assurances, that they would never forsake their Lord. They would go with Him to prison; and if need be, they would suffer and die with Him. Just before He bent His footsteps to the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus had said, “All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered. But after that I am risen, I will go before you into Galilee.” And poor, self-sufficient Peter had said, “Although all shall be offended, yet will not I.” [Mark 14:27-29.] 12LtMs, Ms 42, 1897, par. 19

But now they are asleep. Had the disciples heeded the words of their suffering Master, “Pray ye that ye enter not into temptation” [Luke 22:40], they would never have allowed sleep to stupefy and confuse their senses. They would have been partakers with Him in His suffering. 12LtMs, Ms 42, 1897, par. 20

The disciples looked with terror and amazement upon His face,which was marked with blood; His visage was marred more than the sons of men. Only a short distance had separated them from their Lord, and they had heard the exclamations of distress and agony from His divine lips. And they had prayed as they heard the strong cries and tears of their sufferer. But they seemed paralyzed by a stupor which they might have shaken off had they continued pleading with God themselves. They did not intend to forsake their Lord in the hour of His supreme agony and in thus sleeping they sustained a great loss. They might have stood on vantage ground through the terrible scenes that were to transpire. They might have stood secure, defended by the heavenly angels. In God they might have overcome the wicked one. But a short time before they had much conscious power in their own strength, but they had not looked to the mighty Helper, as the suffering Son of God had told them to do. 12LtMs, Ms 42, 1897, par. 21

Only a short time before Christ had poured out His soul in songs of praise in unfaltering accents, as one who was conscious of His Sonship with God. He had spoken to them in tenderness and love. But what can this change mean? So lately He had been serene in His majesty, He had been like a mighty cedar; now He was as a broken reed. His voice came to them in the still evening air, not now in tones of triumph, but full of human anguish. His disciples’ first impulse was to go to Him—(O why did they not go?); but He had bidden them tarry there, watching unto prayer lest they should enter into temptation in the hour of His deepest humiliation. 12LtMs, Ms 42, 1897, par. 22

And now they hear the heavy tramp of soldiers in the garden, “Behold,” said Christ, “the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise up; let us go; lo, he that betrayeth me is at hand. And immediately, while he yet spake, cometh Judas, one of the twelve, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. And he that betrayed him had given them a token, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he; take him, and lead him away safely.” He believed that Christ would escape and not permit Himself to be taken. “And as soon as he was come, he goeth straightway to him, and saith, Master; Master; and kissed him.” [Mark 14:41-45.] “But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?” [Luke 22:48.] 12LtMs, Ms 42, 1897, par. 23

“And behold one of them which was with Jesus, stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck the servant of the high priest, and smote off his ear. Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into its place; for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?” [Matthew 26:51-53.] 12LtMs, Ms 42, 1897, par. 24

To the multitude Jesus said, “Are ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and with staves to take me? I was daily with you in the temple teaching, and ye took me not: but the Scripture must be fulfilled.” [Mark 14:48, 49.] 12LtMs, Ms 42, 1897, par. 25

John’s record of this event is, “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 to 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 them stood with them. As soon as he had said unto them, I Am he,” Divinity flashed through humanity, and “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 sword drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into thy sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?” [John 18:3-11.] 12LtMs, Ms 42, 1897, par. 26

At this saying terror seized upon the disciples. They were now all together again, surrounding their Lord; but at the proposition of Peter, “they all forsook him and fled.” [Mark 14:50.] 12LtMs, Ms 42, 1897, par. 27

The human nature of Christ was like unto ours. And suffering was really more keenly felt by Him, for His spiritual nature was free from every taint of sin. The aversion to suffering was in proportion to its severity. His desire for the removal of suffering was just as strong as human beings experience. 12LtMs, Ms 42, 1897, par. 28

“For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. ... For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be made a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted.” [Hebrews 2:10, 16-18.] 12LtMs, Ms 42, 1897, par. 29

How intense was the desire of the humanity of Christ to escape the displeasure of an offended God; how His soul longed for relief is shown in the words of the Sufferer, “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” [Matthew 26:39.] Yet the Son of God endured the wrath of the Lord Jehovah against His sinful subjects. All the accumulated sin of the world was laid upon the Sinbearer, the One who was innocent of all sin, the One who alone could be the propitiation for sin, because He Himself was obedient. 12LtMs, Ms 42, 1897, par. 30

His life was one with God. Not a taint of corruption was upon Him. Yet “being in the form of God,” He “thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name. That at the name of Christ every knee should bow ... and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” [Philippians 2:6-11.] 12LtMs, Ms 42, 1897, par. 31