Matthew 26:38 (Deeply Grieved to the Point of Death)

Here in the garden of Gethsemane where olives were pressed for their oil to light lamps (Mat 25:3-4), mix with food (Eze 16:13), as a healing balm (Mar 6:13, Luk 10:34, Jam 5:14), and to anoint prophets, priests and kings (1Ki 19:16, Lev 8:12, 1Sa 16:13) the Scriptures describe how Jesus was also pressed for the oil of His Spirit that would light for us the lamp of God’s word, be mixed with our spiritual food, serve as a healing balm for our sins, and anoint us as prophets and priests and kings in His kingdom.  As He was crushed for our iniquities in fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy (Isa 53:5) the Scriptures describe the full range of our own human emotions that overcame Jesus who shared our nature.  He was grieved, sorrowful, and even angry at all the injustices against Him by those He came to save.  He was frightened by the terrors of death and the powers of darkness, and distressed or “very heavy” because of the separation He keenly felt from His home in heaven and oneness with the Father as He was being given over to death as if He were a sinner, even though He was innocent and knew no sin.  As He struggled with this last and greatest temptation to His human flesh to subject Himself to the Father’s will even unto death, the Scripture says that He was in agony, and so great was that agony that He sweat drops of blood from the stress and anguish that overcame Him (Luk 22:44).

How did Jesus Himself describe the agony He was experiencing?  See Mat 26:38 where deeply grieved is an emphatic form of the same word used in Mat 26:37 and that means literally encompassed with grief; KJV = exceeding sorrowful.  The Greek grammar also positions the word at the beginning of His words for even greater emphasis on the grief He felt.  Notice also that soul (Greek ψυχή, from which we get psyche), in addition to referring to that inner part of man that we think of as our mind, will and emotions, equally refers to one’s life, as it is also commonly translated; see Gen 35:18, 1Ki 17:21, Act 20:10.  Considering that Jesus’ soul was deeply grieved to the point of death, should we understand that it is only physical afflictions that drain away our life?  Cf. Psa 32:4.  If the soul of even the perfect Son of God was encompassed with grief to the point of death as He felt the weight of our sins, how much more must our sins weigh upon us, even though we may keep a stiff upper lip and pretend that they don’t?  Cf. Rom 7:24, Mat 11:28-30.  Should we therefore be surprised when that weight of sin upon the inner life of our souls manifests itself as various sicknesses and diseases in the outer life of our physical bodies?  What does this teach us about how our health and well-being is much more than just preservation from physical contagions or injuries?  Rather, is not much of our physical life and well-being an outer reflection of our inner life and well-being, so that many of the afflictions that manifest themselves in our flesh are truly healed only when the underlying source of those afflictions in the inner life of our soul is addressed?

In what way then are many of the pills and potions of today’s modern medicine “false wonders” (Mat 24:24) not unlike those of sorcerers (Greek φάρμακος from which we get pharmacy) or witch doctors who throughout history have used their secret arts and knowledge of the material world which is hidden from others to astound people and even provide temporary relief to sufferers—for a price—but only by addressing symptoms and not the underlying disease?  Cf. Exo 7:11, Act 8:9-11.  In what way was Jesus different in this regard?  See Mat 10:1, Mar 5:25-34; cf. Jam 5:15-16; contrast Exo 9:11.  Where then does the Bible indicate that we should look for true healing?  See Exo 15:26, Deut 7:12-15.  Confer also Mat 4:23, 9:35, 10:7-8, noticing the relationship of Jesus’ healing ministry to His teaching ministry.

Because of the great distress to His soul that He was experiencing, what did Jesus request of Peter, James and John whom He had taken along with Him?  See Mat 26:38.  Notice that to keep watch is the same word Jesus had used three times in the Olivet discourse the previous day admonishing the disciples to be on the alert (Mat 24:42,43, 25:13) lest His coming take them by surprise.  Just moments earlier He had also admonished His disciples to pray that they not enter into temptation (Luk 22:40), which we understand as the essential element of keeping watch (Mat 26:41).  Whereas His every other use of this word was that they be on the alert for their own safety and well-being, how was His use of the word now different?  I.e., with Whom, or for Whose well-being, was He now requesting them to keep watch?  See Mat 26:38.  What does the fact that Jesus asked them to keep watch with Him, even though they failed, teach us about the potential He saw that they could actually be a source of strength and encouragement to Him in the spiritual battle that was encompassing Him?  What does this remind us about the power of prayer, even beyond what it can do for us, but what it can do even for God as we partner with Him?  Especially now on this side of the cross after Jesus’ Spirit has been poured out, are we keeping watch with Jesus, as good soldiers of the cross, through the subjection of our own will to His even to the laying down of our own lives, in order that His kingdom may come and His will may be done on earth as it is in heaven?