It is Wednesday evening of Passion week and Jesus has just celebrated the Passover a day earlier than the religious leaders because of a different reckoning of the fourteenth day of the new month based on ambiguities that happen on occasion with the sighting of the new moon, and which God in His sovereignty ordained at that time in history to accomplish all His purposes. After the meal in a large upper room in Jerusalem that may well have been at the home of John Mark, author of our second gospel, He retired with His disciples to a garden on the Mount of Olives called Gethsemane. Because He was accustomed to stay there during the feasts, Judas, leading a mob of officers and soldiers from the religious leaders, would know where to find Him. And because of his faith in Jesus as a miracle worker and Jesus’ cryptic words to him earlier that evening that could be interpreted as a confirmation that he was helping to usher in the kingdom as he saw it (Mat 26:25, Joh 13:27), he was confident He would be there. Similarly, Jesus, knowing that Judas was betraying Him, could easily have gone elsewhere had He wished to escape, but in faithful obedience subjected Himself to the will of the Father. Because of the Sabbath rests imposed by the feast, the religious leaders would have viewed the timing as perfect to seize Jesus and put Him to death with a minimal opportunity for His followers to respond by inciting the crowds. They no doubt also supposed that God had answered their prayers and delivered Him into their hands, but couldn’t see that He was giving them over to the deception of their own hearts while accomplishing His own greater purposes.
Here in the garden, whose name means an olive press, Jesus would be pressed, crushed by the weight of the sins of the world, but in perfect submission to the will of the Father, so that we might receive the oil of His Holy Spirit and become partakers of His divine nature to follow Him in the way of the cross, suffering in our own flesh so as to cease from sin and obtain the salvation He came to give; cf. Joh 12:24-26, Rom 8:12-17, Phil 3:10-11, 1Pe 4:1-2. After bidding all the disciples to pray that they not enter into temptation, Jesus went a stone’s throw away to pray in secret, but also took along Peter, James and John, who were His closest disciples, to keep watch with Him in what would be His darkest hour. For having witnessed His future glory on the Mount of Transfiguration, it was fitting that these also witness that which was necessary for Him to suffer before entering into that glory.
How does Matthew describe Jesus’ suffering in the garden? See Mat 26:37-38. What does it mean that He began to be grieved? Notice that the word can also mean to affect with sadness and is commonly translated with the sense of being sorrowful; see 2Co 7:8-10. In addition to sadness or grief, the emotional state described by the word would also often include anger; see Gen 4:5, 1Sa 29:4, 2Sa 13:21, Neh 5:6, Est 1:12, and Jon 4:1,4,9 where the same word was used in the LXX. What does the Bible describe as the opposite of being grieved or sorrowful? See Joh 16:20, 2Co 2:1-3. Is such sorrow or grief necessarily a result of man’s fall into sin, or a part of our creation and what it means to be human? Cf. 2Co 6:10, 7:11, Eph 4:26, and consider: if we had no capacity to experience the lows of grief and sorrow, or even anger, would it be possible to also experience the heights of gladness and joy? Besides our Lord, who else was grieved that same night, and for what reason? See Mat 26:22. Who else does Matthew describe as being grieved and for what reasons, that help us to understand the range of emotional feelings that were overcoming Jesus in the garden? See Mat 14:9, 18:31, 19:22. For what reasons might Jesus have begun to be afflicted with grief / sorrow / anger in the garden? Cf. Mat 26:14,31,34,40,69-74, 27:38-44. What does Jesus’ affliction with such emotions indicate about His true humanity?
Whereas Matthew used a Greek word that meant to be grieved or sorrowful or angry, Mark used a different word translated as distressed (NAS), but that more precisely means to be thoroughly astounded, or sore amazed as in the KJV; see Mar 14:33. In addition to astonishment, this word also has the connotation of being frightened or terrified; see Mar 16:5-6 KJV. For what reasons might Jesus have become distressed as if startled by some terror? See Luk 22:53, Gen 3:15, Joh 14:30, Mat 26:67, 27:26-31. Should we be surprised that death, and the battle one faces against the powers of darkness when facing it, is so frightening to us when it was alarming even to Jesus? Cf. Mat 26:39. What does this again teach us about Jesus’ full humanity, and His ability to sympathize and comfort us even when facing death? See Heb 4:15-16; cf. Psa 23:4.