Luke 22:39 Commentary - Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New TestamentOur blessed Saviour being now come to the Mount of Olives, and having entered with his disciples into the garden near it, whether he used to retire and pray; in this place he falls into a bitter and bloody agony, in which he prayed with wonderful fervor and importunity; his sufferings were now coming on a great pace, and he mets them upon his knees, and would be found in a praying posture.
Learn thence, that prayer is the best preparative for, as well as the most powerful support under, the heaviest sufferings that can befall us.
As to this prayer of our Saviour, in his agony, many particulars are very observable as, 1. The time when he prayed thus extraordinarily; it was the evening before he suffered, just before Judas with his black guard came to apprehend him; and when he did come, he found him in a praying posture; our Lord teaching us by his example, that when imminent dangers are before us, especially when death is apprehended by us, it is our duty to be very much in prayer to God, and very fervent in our wrestlings with him.
Observe, 2. The subject matter of our Lord's prayer, That, if possible, the cup might pass from him; that is, that he might escape the dreadful wrath, at which he was so sore amazed.
But what did Christ now begin to repent of his undertaking for sinners? Did he shrink and give back, when he came to the pinch?
No, nothing like this; but as he had two natures, being God and Man, so he had two distinct wills; as Man he feared and shunned death, as God-man he willingly submitted to it. The divine nature and the human spirit of Christ did now assault each other with disagreeing interests.
Again, this prayer was not absolute, but conditional: "Father, if it may be, if thou wilt, if it please thee, let the cup pass; if not, I will drink it." The cup of sufferings we see is a very bitter and distasteful cup, a cup which human nature abhors; yet does God oftentimes put this bitter cup of affliction into the hands of whom he does sincerely love; and when he does so, it is their duty to drink it with silence and submission, as here their Lord did before them.
Observe, 3. The manner of our Lord's prayer in this his agony: and here we may remark,
1. It was a solitary prayer; he went by himself alone, out of the hearing of his disciples. The company of our best and dearest friends is not always seasonable; there are times and seasons when a Christian would not be willing that the most intimate friend he has in the world should be with him, to hear what passes in secret between him and his God.
2. It was an humble prayer; that appears by the postures in which he cast himself, sometimes lying prostrate upon his face, he lies in the very dust, and lower he could not lie, and his heart was as low as his body.
3. It was a vehement, fervent, and importunate prayer; such was the fervor of his spirit, that he prayed himself into an agony. Oh let us blush to think how unlike our praying frame of spirit is to Christ's.
Lord, what coldness, deadness, drowsiness, formality, and laziness, are found in our prayers! How often do our lips move, when our hearts stand still!
Observe, 4. The posture which the disciples were found in; when our Lord was praying in his agony, they were fast asleep. Good God! Could they possibly sleep at such a time as this? When Christ's soul was exceedingly sorrowful, could their eyes be heavy?
Learn thence, that the very best of Christ's disciples may be, and oftentimes are, overtaken with great infirmities, when the most important duties are performing; Then cometh he to his disciples, and findeth them sleeping.
Observe, 5. The mild, meek, and gentle rebuke which he gives to his disciples for their sleeping; he said unto them, Why sleep ye? Could ye not watch with me one hour? "What, not watch when your Master was in such danger! Could ye not watch with me, when I was going to lay down my life for you: What, not an hour, and that the parting hour, too?
Learn hence, that the holiest and best resolved Christians, who have willing spirits for Christ and his service, yet in regard to the meekness of the flesh, and the frailty of human nature, it is their duty to watch and pray, and thereby guard themselves against temptation: Rise and pray, let ye enter into, etc.
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Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament
William Burkitt (1650 - 1703) was a Church of England clergyman, bible expositor, and devotional writer.
Volume 1: Matthew - John, was published in 1700.
Volume 2: Acts - Revelation was published 1703.