36. Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.”gethsemane

Following their usual nightly routine, they come to this place called Gethsemane to pray. The word for “place” here is the Greek for a field or a farmer’s field. It is only in John 18:1 that we learn that there was a garden (or actually an orchard) there.

37. And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed.

Once again the Lord Jesus leaves the majority of His disciples and takes only His most favored ones with Him further into the garden. Why is it, if the Lord could offer a higher position to some of His disciples here, that we suppose that everyone must receive equal blessings in the resurrection? No, God is no socialist. There are many who will receive great rewards, and many who will receive far lesser rewards, or even no rewards at all, but their lives only. This is all by God’s choice and design.

The two sons of Zebedee are James and John.

38. Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.”

This proves that Christ considered Himself to be a soul. His soul is sorrowful, so much so that it is threatening His life! Thus, He asks His disciples to stay behind and watch with Him to aid Him in this great trial.

39. He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”

Many actually believe that our Lord was wimping out here! In spite of the fact that He had many times to His disciples predicted His Own upcoming death on the cross, and in spite of the fact that we know He was dying so that we all as sinners could be saved, yet we are made to believe by the modern interpretation of this passage that our Lord’s request here was for His Father to find some way for Him to not have to die for our sins! Was the Lord a fool, that He would suddenly forget that His death was the only way to save us? Did His love fail, in that He suddenly thought more of preserving His Own life and comfort than He did of saving those who so desperately needed the help that only He could provide?

Not only are we asked to believe that His love for us and determination to die for us failed, but we are also to imagine that the Father refused this request of His Son’s. Can it be that our Lord ever asked anything of His Father that wasn’t good and right? And can it be that the loving Father ever refused anything His Son requested of Him? I cannot believe that this could possibly be so!

No, I do not believe that His upcoming death on the cross was the cup the Lord was referring to here. Rather, He was referring to the far more immediate danger and the far more destructive cup: that of the terrible sorrow that was even then threatening to end His life short of the cross. If He had been made to drink that cup, then His death on our behalf never could have been accomplished! It is for that reason that He prayed so earnestly to His Father to remove this cup from Him. And we can be assured that, as always, the Father heard His request and granted it, for we know that He was strengthened indeed and that He did live long enough to die as He was supposed to in our place.

40. Then He came to the disciples and found them asleep, and said to Peter, “What, could you not watch with Me one hour?

As I said, this visit to the garden was not something unusual for them, but rather had been their routine for about a week at this point. Thus, the disciples probably saw nothing unusual in their prayer session that night, and no reason to be more alert than they were. Moreover, they must have had trouble believing that their Lord’s life was really threatened by sorrow. Surely it must have been hard for them to believe that sorrow could kill anyone, especially their Master Whom they must have looked at as so strong and powerful that a little something like sorrow surely could not be enough to threaten His life! That they could not believe this is easily understandable, as many today likewise do not take the Lord’s words seriously, and cannot believe that His life was really on the line here as He claimed. Thus, the disciples, rather than taking His words to heart, only find them baffling, and not being roused to any sort of real watchfulness, soon are dropping off to sleep.

41. “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

I can think of times when I too wished to stay awake but could not. We could blame these disciples, but, as another gospel tells us, the reason they could not stay awake is because they were worn out with sorrow (Luke 22:45.) Apparently they had finally started to believe their Lord’s dire predictions of His death. It is a shame that they had not also started to believe His promise of His Own resurrection!

42. He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from me unless I drink it, Your will be done.”

In spite of the fact that His death at this point would have destroyed all Their plans and would have kept the Lord from accomplishing the salvation that He so earnestly desired because of His love for us, yet still He did not insist that His Father do what He requested, but rather humbly yielded Himself to His will. What a noble plea! Can we imagine that His proud and loving Father would refuse such an earnest and heartfelt request on the behalf of His only Son? Not at all! The Father granted His request, and, indeed, whether or not He would was never even in question. As He said in John 11:42, the Father always hears Him. It is only we as fallible men who dare to imagine that He would not.

43. And He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy.

They again failed to be aroused to any kind of watchfulness. Their eyes were heavy, and they just could not keep awake, even at their Master’s earnest request. How sad is their failure to heed their Master’s request when compared to His Father’s reaction to His plea as found in Luke 22:43. The Father never denies the requests of His dear Son. It is only we as fallen and sinful men who dare to deny Him what He asks.

44. So He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.

The fact that the Lord repeated this request three times shows how urgently He desired that it be fulfilled. He was not pleading to be excused from dying for our sins. Rather, He was pleading to be allowed to do so. This was not His disregard for us causing Him to seek to avoid His sacrifice on the cross. Rather, it was His love for us driving Him to so desperately desire the death that it had been ordained for Him to die so that we as lost sinners might be saved.

45. Then He came to His disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners.
46. “Rise, let us be going. See, he who betrays Me is at hand.”

In spite of their unfaithfulness, our Lord only gently chides them. Intentional or not, they had slept through perhaps His darkest hour. Oh, how likely are we to do the same! Do we never think, when we go our own ways, of how we are leaving the Lord to manage things all alone, whether in our families or among our friends or whatever it might be? We are quick to consider any benefit He might bring to us, yet how little we regard the price He might have to pay to do so.

47. And while He was still speaking, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, with a great multitude with swords and clubs, came from the chief priests and elders of the people.

Notice that this multitude came from the chief priests and elders of the people, not from the Romans. There were no Roman soldiers present at His arrest, as is often pictured. Rather, it was the officers of Israel who took Him. The Jews were allowed no army, so the only armed warriors they had were the temple guard who had charge of safeguarding the religion God had given the Israelites from any outside interference. This practice was approved by the Romans, yet these were the only soldiers they would allow in the land besides their own. These temple guard were totally under the control of the religious leaders of Israel. For such a great force of men to come after our Lord, this must have been almost the entire temple guard assembled together at one time.

48. Now His betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “Whomever I kiss, He is the One; seize Him.”

They had set up an elaborate scheme for taking Jesus. Knowing how well loved He was, they were expecting trouble. Indeed, they were probably expecting much more than they got, for our Lord had carefully made sure that only He and a small number of His disciples were present at this encounter. You see that Christ wanted to be taken according to God’s plan. If He had wanted to, He would have easily been able to avoid such a scheme of the Jewish leaders!

49. Then immediately he went up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed Him.

This Greek greeting “Chaire,” (literally “Rejoice,”) along with the kiss, a universal sign of love and affection, were not only the signals to those who wanted to arrest the Lord, but also were the ultimate symbols of Judas’ betrayal and hypocrisy. Has a greeting ever been more hypocritical, and a simple kiss ever signified so much the opposite of what it was supposed to mean? In these last two acts of hypocrisy, Judas Iscariot marks himself out as the ultimate traitor.

50. And Jesus said to him, “Friend, why have you come?” Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and took Him.

The word translated “Friend” here more carried the idea of the Russian expression “Comrade,” and does not indicate true friendship. The Lord’s meaning here was that Judas should carry out the purpose for which he had come, rather than carrying out these empty and meaningless acts of friendship and affection. The soldiers, seeing Judas’ signal, come and take the One Whom he had thus marked out. In this great company of men, it may be that some of them had never seen the Lord in person, and thus truly needed this sign to know which of the men gathered there was the Lord Jesus.

51. And suddenly, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear.

We learn from John 18:10 that the one who did this was Peter, and that the servant whose ear he cut off was named Malchus. Peter perhaps was remembering his promise to stick with the Lord no matter what (verses 33 and 35.) Now, he seeks to fulfill his promise, preparing to fight to the death for his Lord. It seems his eagerness was greater than his accuracy, however, as he only succeeding in damaging an ear.

52. Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.

The Lord didn’t appreciate Peter’s action like he might have thought He would. Instead of congratulating Peter for defending Him, He rebukes him for his violence. He commands him to put his sword back in its sheath, and tells him that all who take the sword will perish by the sword. This will be the law in the coming kingdom of God, when all weapons will be destroyed and no one will be allowed to fight, even to defend himself. Yet this is not true of today, although even now those who try to use violence to solve their problems often find that violence leads to violence and causes as many problems as it solves. Nevertheless, what Peter’s true mistake was was in taking up arms without the command of his Lord. The time for violence had not yet come, and so he was acting contrary to the will of God. Thus he earned this rebuke.

53. “Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?

A legion consisted of six thousand soldiers. The Lord claimed He could ask the father for twelve legions, one for Himself and each of His eleven disciples. He could have done this, and yet He did not. It was not His plan to be rescued.

54. “How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?”

Jesus again refuses to fight, letting His disciples know that this was not a disaster, but had all been planned in advance by the Father. He must submit to what was happening to Him so that the Scriptures about this event could be fulfilled. His disciples were no doubt in a bit too much of a panic to listen to Him, however.

55. In that hour Jesus said to the multitudes, “Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs to take Me? I sat daily with you, teaching in the temple, and you did not seize Me.

The Lord points out the illegal nature and the deceitful manner in which He was being arrested. If they truly thought He was doing something wrong and were seeking justice, they should have taken Him in the daytime as He sat teaching the things they so opposed. To refuse to do this and to take Him at night was a sign that they were not truly arresting Him justly. These men were entirely under the sway of the religious leaders, however, and so they paid no heed to His rebuke.

56. But all this was done that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled.

The disciples would no doubt have been willing to stand with Jesus in a fight even as Peter was willing to do. Yet none were willing to stand by and passively be taken. They thought they were prepared for anything, but they were not prepared for their Lord to simply give Himself up like this. Thus they scattered, and the Lord Jesus was abandoned, just as He said He would be.

57. And those who had laid hold of Jesus led Him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled.

Such an assembly in the middle of the night was highly illegal according to their own law. However, the leaders were no longer interested in keeping their laws, but rather in accomplishing the only purpose that mattered to them: the destruction of the Lord Jesus. To do that, they knew that they would have to act and act quickly before morning came and His tens of thousands of supporters would find out what had occurred.

58. But Peter followed Him at a distance to the high priest’s courtyard. And he went in and sat with the servants to see the end.

Peter apparently stopped his flight. Perhaps he suddenly remembered the Lord’s words and reminded himself that he was NOT going to leave the Lord now. Perhaps he thought he had defeated the Lord’s prediction as he followed Him to the palace of the high priest. He had given up hope now, however, as his thought was that he was merely going in to see the end. It must have seemed to Him that if even His Master was resigned to the fate His oppressors had in mind for Him, then there must be no hope for himself and the rest of the downtrodden nation of Israel. All His hope had been in the Lord, and now it seems that the Lord Himself has abandoned all hope. Imagine what it would be like to see the hopes and dreams of your entire life, and most of all your last three years, all dissolve in smoke! Perhaps you, too, would have a desire to see the sad calamity to an end.

59. Now the chief priests, the elders, and all the council sought false testimony against Jesus to put Him to death,

The word “council” here is a translation of the name “Sanhedrin,” the company of men who represented the nation in all national and religious issues. This highest body in the land shows its true colors, however, when instead of seeking justice in this case, it instead seeks false witnesses, caring for nothing but achieving the outcome they desired to have.

60. but found none. Even though many false witnesses came forward, they found none. But at last two false witnesses came forward

The reason they “found none” was because they could not get any two of these witnesses to agree. Although they were ignoring many of their laws this night, it seems that the law of God that “one witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established,” (Deuteronomy 19:15,) was so ingrained in their minds that even now when they were ignoring so many other laws they could not get away from this one. Perhaps they knew that this matter would be important when they tried to justify their actions to people after the fact. Thus they sought witnesses, but found that they could not find any two who agreed on the false things they were testifying against Him.

61. and said, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.’”

They finally found two witnesses who would agree. What they agreed on was that Christ had made this statement. What they said, however, was false, as the Lord had never said anything about destroying the temple Himself. What He said was that if they destroyed it He would build it again in three days. Moreover, we know that He was not literally talking about the temple, but rather about the sanctuary of His body.

62. And the high priest arose and said to Him, “Do You answer nothing? What is it that these men testify against You?”

He asked the Lord to answer in His Own defense. His question was not appropriate, as these witnesses should not have been accepted since the rest of their testimony did not agree (Mark 14:59,) and as the Lord Himself had not yet been sworn in to testify. And this would be ignoring the surreptitious means of His arrest and the highly illegal nature of a late-night trial.

63. But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest answered and said to Him, “I adjure You by the living God that You tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God.”

The Lord refuses to answer this question that never should have been asked. Thus, seeking to force Him to answer, the high priest at last puts Him under oath. It was too late to make His testimony legal, however, since He had already been questioned before He was put under oath. Nevertheless, it was enough to cause Him to answer. Perhaps this was a question He wanted to answer, unlike the other.

64. Jesus said to him, “It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

The Lord affirms that what the high priest said was true. This should not have been enough to convict Him, however, as the religious leaders had no proof that He was not the Christ, the Son of God. Then the Lord goes on to prophecy to this high priest. This man will yet in the future see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power (in other words, in the rights of divine authority,) and coming on the clouds of heaven. No doubt he will see these things when he is raised from the dead to be judged by our Lord, for this wicked and rebellious man will doubtless not be allowed to live in God’s great future kingdom!

65. Then the high priest tore his clothes, saying, “He has spoken blasphemy! What further need do we have of witnesses? Look, now you have heard His blasphemy!

Tearing your clothes was not proper in a court. Moreover, they had no proof that He had blasphemed, as they had no evidence to disprove His claim. He, on the other hand, could bring forward as proofs all the miraculous works that He had done. Any honest court would have had to admit that they could not disprove His words. This was not an honest court, however, but one that already knew what their verdict would be. “We’ll give Him a fair trial, and then we’ll kill Him,” was the attitude they had.

66. “What do you think?” They answered and said, “He is deserving of death.”

They made this judgment based on the testimony of two conflicting witnesses, ignoring all the weight of evidence Christ had accumulated for Himself over the three years of His ministry! This verdict was ridiculous, yet the religious leaders would staunchly continue to attempt to justify it.

67. Then they spat in His face and beat Him; and others struck Him with the palms of their hands,
68. saying, “Prophesy to us, Christ! Who is the one who struck You?”

What a well-run, orderly court this is! From the moment He was arrested the Lord was already condemned in the minds of these men. No justice would take place in this court. But these men will receive God’s justice in the Day of Judgment. This particular act, however, will not be a part of the verdict, as Christ later appealed for it to not be held against them (Luke 23:34.) Such an appeal from Christ Himself could not be denied. How, then, can men today call the Jewish people “Christ-killers”? Don’t they know that God has pardoned that sin before it was even completed? Besides, no man killed Christ! He laid His life down, as He said!

69. Now Peter sat outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came to him, saying, “You also were with Jesus of Galilee.”

Peter, not being allowed into the court, of course, was sitting in the courtyard, waiting, as it said in verse 58, to see what the end would be. While there, he is approached by this servant girl and accused of having been with Jesus. The Greek here says “one” servant girl, there being a second girl mentioned in verse 71.

70. But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you are saying.”

He no doubt feared that he could be arrested to, and so he denied what the girl had said, knowing, of course, that her accusation was true.

71. And when he had gone out to the gateway, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, “This fellow also was with Jesus of Nazareth.”

The word “girl” is not in the Greek, but the word for “another” is feminine, which shows that what was meant was indeed that this was another servant girl, different from the one at the fire. She also recognizes him as having been with the Lord.

72. But again he denied with an oath, “I do not know the Man!”

He was probably getting more frightened because of the accusations, and so his denial becomes even stronger. This time he denies even knowing the Lord’s name, and includes an oath with his denial.

73. And after a while those who stood by came to him and said to Peter, “Surely you also are one of them, because your speech betrays you.”

Those who heard the girl’s and Peter’s exchange recognized his accent as Galilean, the country where our Lord was from, and so they consult among themselves to accuse Peter together.

74. Then he began to curse and swear, saying, “I do not know the Man!” And immediately a rooster crowed.

Although he must have been reluctant to deny the Lord at first, Peter has now committed to this course of action, and has gained the confidence that comes from repeating an act. Thus, he not only denies now, but does so in the most emphatic manner, calling down curses on himself if what he says is not true and swearing that it is true and insisting that he does not know the Lord Jesus. No sooner does he finish doing this, however, than the rooster crows, just as Christ had said it would.

75. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus Who had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” Then he went out and wept bitterly.

The sound of this rooster brought memory back to Peter of what the Lord had said to him and what he had promised the Lord he would do. Now the full weight of what he has done hits home with Peter, and he is no longer able to sit and wait to see the outcome of the Lord’s trial. In shame and dismay at what he has done, he flees the temple courts to a place outside, weeping bitterly at realization of his own unfaithfulness to his Lord. Learning in a personal way what we as fallen creatures are really like is no easy lesson to learn. This was a terrible thing to happen to Peter, but we know that he became all the stronger for it later on.

In these last seven verses we have had three denials. Yet these denials do not line up with those listed in the other gospels if we truly compare them. Thus I believe that there were in fact six denials. These denials, as near as I can piece them together, are as follows:

1.) John 18:17. By the servant girl keeping the door as Peter and John were entering the high priest’s palace.

2.) Matthew 26: 69-70, Mark 14: 66-68, Luke 22: 56-57, John 18:25. By a servant girl warming herself with the men at the fire.

3.) John 18: 26-27. At the fire, by a kinsman of the man whose ear Peter cut off.

I.) Mark 14: 68, John 18:27. The first rooster crows. Peter leaves the fire and goes out to the porch by the gate.

4.) Matthew 26: 71-72, Luke 22:58. By a different servant girl from the one at the fire who sees him standing by the gate.

5.) Mark 14: 69-70a. By the same servant girl who saw him at the fire who now sees him standing by the gate.

6.) Matthew 26: 73-74, Mark 14: 70b-71, Luke 22: 59-60. After Peter had been standing by the gate for about an hour, by a group of men who were also standing at the gate. This time, Peter begins to curse and swear in his final denial of the Lord.

II.) Matthew 26: 74, Mark 14: 72, Luke 22: 60. The rooster crows the second time. The Lord turns and looks at Peter, and he remembers all that the Lord had said to him. This time, he runs away from the palace out of the city and weeps bitterly.

If you will follow these occurrences through, you will see that they fit perfectly, the only sticking point being that I may have mixed 4 and 5 up, there being no way to tell which order these two were in that I could see (although the structure is better if it occurred in the order I have it in.) This fits all of what Scripture says together, keeps all of it true, and removes any imagined “discrepancy.” It shows that the only discrepancy is the one caused by those who simply have not read the record carefully enough!