Preparing To Die

6 min


And he came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him. And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation. And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my willbut thine, be done. Luke 22:39-42. A Call To Stand Apart 31.1

In company with His disciples, the Saviour slowly made His way to the garden of Gethsemane. The Passover moon, broad and full, shone from a cloudless sky. The city of pilgrims’ tents was hushed into silence. CSA 32.1

Jesus had been earnestly conversing with His disciples and instructing them; but as He neared Gethsemane, He became strangely silent. He had often visited this spot for meditation and prayer; but never with a heart so full of sorrow as upon this night of His last agony.Throughout His life on earth He had walked in the light of God’s presence…. But now He seemed to be shut out from the light of God’s sustaining presence. Now He was numbered with the transgressors.The guilt of fallen humanity He must bear. Upon Him who knew no sin must be laid the iniquity of us all….CSA 32.2

As they approached the garden, the disciples had marked the change that came over their Master…. CSA 32.3

Near the entrance to the garden, Jesus left all but three of the disciples, bidding them pray for themselves and for Him. With Peter, James, and John, He entered its secluded recesses…. But now He desired them to spend the night with Him in prayer…. CSA 32.4

He went a little distance from them—not so far but that they could both see and hear Him—and fell prostrate upon the ground. He felt that by sin He was being separated from His Father. 56 CSA 32.5

In the wilderness of temptation the destiny of the human race had been at stake. Christ was then conqueror.Now the tempter had come for the last fearful struggle. For this he had been preparing during the three years of Christ’s ministry. Everything was at stake with him. If he failed here, his hope of mastery was lost; the kingdoms of the world would finally become Christ’s; he himself would be overthrown and cast out.But if Christ could be overcome, the earth would become Satan’s kingdom, and the human race would be forever in his power. With the issues of the conflict before Him, Christ’s soul was filled with dread of separation from God…. CSA 32.6

The sins of men weighed heavily upon Christ, and the sense of God’s wrath against sin was crushing out His life…. In His agony He clings to the cold ground, as if to prevent Himself from being drawn farther from God…. From His pale lips comes the bitter cry, “O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me.”Yet even now He adds, “Nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt.” CSA 32.7

The human heart longs for sympathy in suffering. This longing Christ felt to the very depths of His being. In the supreme agony of His soul He came to His disciples with a yearning desire to hear some words of comfort from those whom He had so often blessed and comforted, and shielded in sorrow and distress. The One who had always had words of sympathy for them was now suffering superhuman agony, and He longed to know that they were praying for Him and for themselves…. CSA 32.8

Rising with painful effort, He staggered to the place where He had left His companions. But He “findeth them asleep.” … CSA 32.9

Just before He bent His footsteps to the garden, Jesus had said to the disciples, “All ye shall be offended because of Me this night.” They had given Him the strongest assurance that they would go with Him to prison and to death. And poor, self-sufficient Peter had added, “Although all shall be offended, yet will not I.” Mark 14:27, 29. 57 CSA 32.10

Addressing Peter, Jesus said, “Simon, sleepest thou? couldest not thou watch one hour? CSA 32.11

Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.”… CSA 33.1

As the agony of soul came upon Him, “His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” The cypress and palm trees were the silent witnesses of His anguish. From their leafy branches dropped heavy dew upon His stricken form, as if nature wept over its Author wrestling alone with the powers of darkness…. CSA 33.2

The words of the Saviour were borne to the ears of the drowsy disciples, “O My Father, if this cup may not pass away from Me, except I drink it, Thy will be done.” CSA 33.3

The first impulse of the disciples was to go to Him; but He had bidden them tarry there, watching unto prayer. When Jesus came to them, He found them still sleeping…. His presence aroused them. They saw His face marked with the bloody sweat of agony, and they were filled with fear.His anguish of mind they could not understand. “His visage was so marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men.”Isaiah 52:14. CSA 33.4

Turning away, Jesus sought again His retreat, and fell prostrate, overcome by the horror of a great darkness. The humanity of the Son of God trembled in that trying hour. He prayed not now for His disciples that their faith might not fail, but for His own tempted, agonized soul. The awful moment had come—that moment which was to decide the destiny of the world. The fate of humanity trembled in the balance.Christ might even now refuse to drink the cup apportioned to guilty man. It was not yet too late. He might wipe the bloody sweat from His brow, and leave man to perish in his iniquity. He might say, Let the transgressor receive the penalty of his sin, and I will go back to My Father. Will the Son of God drink the bitter cup of humiliation and agony?Will the innocent suffer the consequences of the curse of sin, to save the guilty? The words fall tremblingly from the pale lips of Jesus, “O My Father, if this cup may not pass away from Me, except I drink it, Thy will be done.” CSA 33.5

Three times has He uttered that prayer. 58 CSA 33.6

Angels beheld the Saviour’s agony.They saw their Lord enclosed by legions of satanic forces, His nature weighed down with a shuddering, mysterious dread. There was silence in heaven. No harp was touched.Could mortals have viewed the amazement of the angelic host as in silent grief they watched the Father separating His beams of light, love, and glory from His beloved Son, they would better understand how offensive in His sight is sin. CSA 33.7

The worlds unfallen and the heavenly angels had watched with intense interest as the conflict drew to its close…. CSA 33.8

Christ’s agony did not cease, but His depression and discouragement left Him. The storm had in nowise abated, but He who was its object was strengthened to meet its fury. He came forth calm and serene. A heavenly peace rested upon His bloodstained face. He had borne that which no human being could ever bear; for He had tasted the sufferings of death for every man…. CSA 33.9

He heard the footsteps of the mob in search of Him, and said, “Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray Me.” CSA 33.10

No traces of His recent agony were visible as Jesus stepped forth to meet His betrayer. Standing in advance of His disciples He said, “Whom seek ye?” They answered, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus replied, “I am He.”As these words were spoken, the angel who had lately ministered to Jesus moved between Him and the mob. A divine light illuminated the Saviour’s face, and a dovelike form overshadowed Him. In the presence of this divine glory, the murderous throng could not stand for a moment.They staggered back. Priests, elders, soldiers, and even Judas, fell as dead men to the ground…. CSA 33.11

Jesus had opportunity to escape, but He remained, calm and self-possessed. As one glorified He stood in the midst of that hardened band, now prostrate and helpless at His feet. The disciples looked on, silent with wonder and awe. CSA 34.1

But quickly the scene changed. The mob started up. The Roman soldiers, the priests and Judas, gathered about Christ. They seemed ashamed of their weakness, and fearful that He would yet escape. Again the question was asked by the Redeemer, “Whom seek ye?” … [and] again they answered, “Jesus of Nazareth.” The Saviour then said, “I have told you that I am He: if therefore ye seek Me, let these go their way”—pointing to the disciples.He knew how weak was their faith, and He sought to shield them from temptation and trial. For them He was ready to sacrifice Himself. CSA 34.2

Judas the betrayer did not forget the part he was to act. When the mob entered the garden, he had led the way, closely followed by the high priest. To the pursuers of Jesus he had given a sign, saying, “Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is He: hold Him fast.” Matthew 26:48.Now he pretends to have no part with them. Coming close to Jesus, he takes His hand as a familiar friend.With the words, “Hail, Master,” he kisses Him repeatedly, and appears to weep as if in sympathy with Him in His peril. CSA 34.3

Jesus said to him, “Friend, wherefore art thou come?” His voice trembled with sorrow as He added, “Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?” This appeal should have aroused the conscience of the betrayer, and touched his stubborn heart; but honor, fidelity, and human tenderness had forsaken him. He stood bold and defiant, showing no disposition to relent. 59 CSA 34.4

Turning to the priests and elders, Christ fixed upon them His searching glance…. With dignity He said: You come out against Me with swords and staves as you would against a thief or a robber. Day by day I sat teaching in the temple. You had every opportunity of laying hands upon Me, and you did nothing. The night is better suited to your work.“This is your hour, and the power of darkness.” CSA 34.5

The disciples were terrified as they saw Jesus permit Himself to be taken and bound. They were offended that He should suffer this humiliation to Himself and them. They could not understand His conduct, and they blamed Him for submitting to the mob. In their indignation and fear, Peter proposed that they save themselves. Following this suggestion, “they all forsook Him, and fled.” CSA 34.6


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