Jesus Overwhelmed with Sorrow (Part One)

Mark 14:32-42

Then they came to a place named Gethsemane, and he told his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took Peter, James, and John with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. He said to them, “I am deeply grieved to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake.” He went a little farther, fell to the ground, and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from him (14:32-35 CSB).

Every learner or disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ needs to have extensive and deep knowledge of the saving work that Jesus accomplished on our behalf. One weakness of the contemporary church is that we fail to think much about the Gospels, especially this section of the Gospels about the redeeming events. This week is an excellent opportunity to open one of the Four Gospels and to start to read from the time of the Triumphal Entry to the end of that Gospel. Invest time in thinking about what the Lord has done for you.

In this post, let us look together at what our Lord experienced, as he drew near to the time when he would give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45 NIV). Let us contemplate this event like we were hearing of it for the first time. Let the words of the passage reverberate in your inner person.

View the distress of soul that the Savior endured.

What was the character of this distress? The ocean waves of great grief started to roll over his soul. I remember one day when I was body surfing at Seaside Heights, New Jersey and I should not have been. It was too dangerous, especially for my swimming skill level. My feelings then and now, though they still make me tremble, are nothing to waves of grief beginning to crash down on Jesus at this time. For another idea of human experience like this, listen to Ps 116:3 before we continue. The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave [Sheol] came upon me; I was overcome by trouble and sorrow (NIV).

  • Christ was deeply distressed. This is a word of sharp surprise (cf. Mark 9:15; 16:5). Jesus was shocked by the anguish that hit him.
  • He was troubled. He was in a state of anxiety or distress. He was troubled, so that our hearts might not be troubled.
  • He was deeply grieved to the point of death (cf. Mark 6:26; Luke 18:23). This is the shock of hearing of great tragedy that makes your knees buckle. Some of you know too well what I mean.

What was the cause of this distress? It was caused by what the Savior would soon experience. Now from all the Scriptures, we must discern what this cause is. Simply stated, it was not physical death. Please don’t make the Lord weaker than his followers, many of whom have faced the cruelest deaths with joy for his sake. Instead, it also included everything it means to be the propitiation for our sins (1 John 2:2). Read on your own what the Lord said through Isaiah the prophet (Isaiah 53:4-5, 10-11).

The New Testament Scriptures describe this in various ways. They say that he bore our sin (1 Peter 2:24). He became a curse for us (Galatians 3:13). And as Bengel said long ago, “Who would have dared to use such language if the apostle had not gone before him?” And he was being forsaken by his Father (Mark 15:34).

To update into modern English what John Flavel said, “Ah, what is divine wrath that Christ staggered when the cup came to him! Could he not bear it, and do you think you can endure it? Did Christ sweat drops of blood about it, and do you make fun of it? Poor deceived person, if it staggered him, it would totally blow you away!” Run to Christ, my friend! Thanks be to God for Jesus Christ!

Grace and peace,