In the Garden of Gethsemaneby Jesse Lyman Hurlbu
DURING THE week of the Passover, while the city of Jerusalem held three or four times as many people as usual, the gates in its walls were kept open day and night, although during most of the year they were closed at sunset.
It was near midnight on Thursday when Jesus and his disciples, coming from the supper room, passed through a gate in the eastern wall just north of the Temple.
They went down into the valley of the brook Kedron, and crossed the brook upon a bridge. On the further side of the valley, they came to an orchard of olive trees, called the Garden of Gethsemane.
Jesus had often visited this garden, for it was a quiet place; and he loved to pray under the shadow of its olive trees. The orchard had a wall around it; and at its gate Jesus said to his disciples:
"Sit here, while I go and pray inside the garden."
He took with him three of his disciples, Simon Peter, James, and John his brother, and with these three went into the garden. The disciples began to notice that their Master was now showing the signs of deep sorrow, as if full of grief. He said to the three disciples:
"My heart is sad; sad even to death; stay here and watch."
Then he went forward a little way, and fell with his face upon the earth, and prayed to the Father:
"Oh, my Father! My Father!" he cried. "Thou canst do anything! Take this cup away from me, I pray! Yet, I do not ask to have my own will, but only what is thy will."
"The cup" of which Jesus spoke was the terrible suffering that was very soon to come upon him. In those last moments, as he saw his trial and death drawing near like a black cloud, his spirit shrank. So earnest was his prayer, that the sweat stood upon his face in drops of blood. Just then came an angel from heaven, standing by his side to cheer and help him.
He rose up, and walked to the place where he had left the three disciples. They had fallen asleep, being overcome with the trouble which they felt in knowing that soon they were to lose their Master. Jesus spoke to Peter,
"Simon, are you sleeping? Could you not watch with me for a single hour? Watch and pray, all of you, that you may be kept from being tempted. I know that your spirit is willing, but your bodies are weak."
Again he went away, and prayed in the same words:
"My Father! My Father! Thou canst do anything! Take this cup away from me! Yet, I would not have my own will, but thy will."
Coming back, he found them again asleep, for their eyes were heavy and they could not keep them open. When awaked, they did not know what to say to him, for they were ashamed of being found asleep a second time. Jesus left them, and prayed for the third time. In this prayer he said:
"Oh, my Father, if this cup cannot be taken away; if I must drink it, then thy will be done!"
He went once more to the three disciples, and found them asleep, just as before. He now said to them:
"You may as well sleep on now, and take your rest; for it is too late for you to help me. My time has come! The Son of Man has been given into the hands of wicked men. Come, get up, here is the traitor close at hand!"
And at that very instant, while he was speaking these words, the traitor, Judas Iscariot, burst into the garden, with a crowd of men, armed with swords and clubs. These men had been sent by the chief priests and the rulers to seize Jesus.
Spies had been watching near the house while Jesus was talking after the supper, and others watching at the gate when Jesus passed out of it. Word had been sent to the chief priests that Jesus was in the garden, and while he was praying to his Father, these men, led by Judas Iscariot, were hurrying to that place to make Jesus their prisoner.
The men who had come to seize Jesus were not sure that in the night time, even though the full moon was shining, they would know him among his disciples. They said to Judas:
"How can we tell in the dark, under the trees, who is the one for us to take hold of as prisoner?"
"You watch me," said Judas, "and when I go up and kiss a man, seize him, for that one whom I shall kiss will be the man you are looking for."
So Judas went into the garden, where by this time all the other disciples were gathered around Jesus. He came rushing up, saying "Master! Master!" and kissed him, just though he were glad to see him.
"Judas," said Jesus, "do you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?"
Then he went forward to the band of men who were standing with their lanterns and torches, their swords and spears.
"For whom are you looking?" he said to these men.
"For Jesus of Nazareth," they answered him.
"I am he," said Jesus. At the instant when he said this, they went backward, as if frightened, and fell upon their faces on the ground. Again, after a moment, he asked them:
"For whom are you looking?"
And again they answered, "Jesus of Nazareth."
"I have already told you," said Jesus, "that I am he. If you are looking for me, then let these men go away."
For even in that hour Jesus was thinking not of his own safety, but of his disciples. The delay of a few moments gave to the disciples some courage. They began asking:
"Master, shall we strike with the sword?"
Simon Peter, not waiting for an answer from Jesus, drew a sword which he had brought with him, and with it struck one of the high priest's servants; a man named Malchus, and cut off his right ear; for by this time the band had risen to their feet and were drawing near. Jesus said:
"Let me at least do this;" and he touched his ear; and at once his ear was made well again.
"Put up your sword," said Jesus to Peter. "Those who take the sword shall die by the sword. Do you not know, that with a word I could call upon my Father, and even now he would send me twelve armies of angels to keep me safely? The cup which my Father has given me, must I not drink it?"
Then he turned to the band of men who had come to take him.
"Do you come out to arrest me as if I were a robber, with swords and clubs? Day after day I was with you in the Temple, and you did not lay your hands upon me. But now your time has come, and the dark Power has its way."
Then the disciples, finding that they could do nothing to protect Jesus, ran away and left him alone. The men of the band put chains upon Jesus, and led him away.
But John followed the company, and Peter also, anxious to see what would be done with their Lord. The young man John Mark was also following him, when one of the band tried to seize hold of him by his clothes. He left the linen cloth wrapped around him in the hands of the man, and slipped away with only his undergarments upon his body.