Sorrow and Distress – Matthew 26:36-38

“Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, ‘Sit here, while I go over there and pray.’ And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, ‘My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.’”
Matthew 26:36-38

When I read these words, I am stricken by the evident, deep sorrow of our Lord in these last moments before He is betrayed, arrested, beaten, and taken to the cross.

This sorrow strengthens the impact of the words in Luke 9:51: “When the days drew near for him to be taken up, [Jesus] set his face to go to Jerusalem.” It does the same for Jesus’ words in John 12:27-28, “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Determined and undaunted in His purpose, Jesus will not turn from His task but presses on toward the cross to draw all people to Himself (John 12:32).

Isaiah 50:6-7 records the following prophecy: “I gave my back to those who strike, and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard; I hid not my face from disgrace and spitting. But the Lord GOD helps me…therefore I have set my face like a flint.” Our Savior, knowing the path before Him, set His face like a flint. Setting His face resolutely toward the enduring of anguish and wrath and betrayal. For us. Because without Him, we would have no Savior. Our sin would forever hold us captive, darkness and chains would eternally bind us, and there would be no hope of rescue.

Sometimes I think I can forget the humanity of Christ. I can look at His pressing toward the cross and be filled with wonder at His determination, but not think of His sorrow as He drew closer to its reality. The account of His moments in Gethsemane realign my perspective, reminding me that Jesus—Son of God and Son of Man—was not immune to the emotional turmoil of what would soon take place.

What an amazing Savior we have. To be in such anguish and distress, sorrowful to the point of death, and yet to walk boldly on in His steps to His crucifixion, knowing that “Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge [of grief] shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous” (Isaiah 53:11).

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