St. Mark XIV. 26-50.
"Behold and see if there be any sorrow like unto My
E are now drawing near the end. We are in presence of an
awful mystery—the Great Deliverer needing deliverance—the
Comforter of humanity looking for comfort. Be very
reverent and solemn. Make the children feel that they are
on holy ground. Teacher should much time beforehand in
meditating and praying
about this Lesson, and trying to enter into the solemn spirit
Read vv. 26-32.
Recapitulate last Lesson. Last Supper
over. His good-bye to them. Had told them of
parting—tried to comfort them about the future. Just
here were spoken those words of comfort
(St. John xiv., etc.).
"Let not heart be troubled;" "home
prepared for you." "I will come again." "I will send the
Comforter to you." Is it not beautiful this loving,
unselfish heart—not a thought of self even in that
dread hour? He knew of wretched morrow—the betrayal and
denial, the judgment, the mockery, the spitting on and
scourging, the awful agony of the Cross.
But no thought for that, only for the lonely little
band that He was leaving. He was always like that. He is
like that still in Heaven.
Then they sing a hymn, probably the Hallel, the usual
Passover hymn, comprising Psalms cxiii. to cxviii.
Read a few verses of this
hymn. Then out in the bright moonlight they go along
the Olivet road. The strain on His heart growing more
severe—the intense craving for solitude—for prayer—for
the Father's presence. He must be alone in His
favourite praying-place. Talk on the road. Peter's
impulsive reply. Peter always impulsive—like us Irish
people (see again v. 47)—big,
heart, always rushing at things, not calm and quiet.
Very confident. Not safe to be too confident. Safer a
few hours before when he distrusted himself, and said,
"Lord, is it I?" Be afraid of unaided self. Be very
confident in God.
Read vv. 32-42.
Now approaching very solemn sight.
Right on to lonely glades of Gethsemane. All left behind
but three. Who? When with Him before? Why bring them?
His human craving for friendship in great trouble. He
is feeling so lonely and troubled—exceeding sorrowful
unto death. "Keep near Me, you three. Tarry ye here,"
etc. As they tarry He hurries past. He must be on His
knees. He must flee to the Father's presence for
comfort and help. What a blessed thing for anyone to
have such love of prayer and of God. What a blessed
shelter in trouble.
Now we behold awful sight. Agony of mind so awful that
even He could not bear it. He who was so brave and calm
to bear everything. Listen to tortured cry: "O my Father!
if it be possible
remove this cup from Me." Meaning of "cup." (See
ch. x. 38, 39.) What was this
cup? Was it the fear of
death? Was it the denial, betrayal, contempt, and
scorn, awful death upon Cross, with mocking crowds
around? Surely not. Bad as all these were, He was too
brave to fear them. Even some of His humble martyrs
have borne death without fear. What was it? We do not
know. Cannot understand. Deep mystery of God. We only
know that it came in some way from the awful burden of
the sins of the world. "The Lord hath laid on Him the
iniquity of us all." All we can see is that it was some
awful, intolerable agony of soul that came on the pure,
holy Saviour from bearing the horrible burden of the
Was it easy for Him to bear it? No. He had laid aside
His Divine power—had to bear it as a man. You and I
find it hard to do painful things for sake of God and
duty. Wonderful and comforting to think, He found it
hard too. Terribly hard. "If it be possible, let it
pass from Me." How awful it must have been! Is it
wrong to feel it hard to do one's duty? No. Duty is all
the grander when you feel it hard, and yet do it. The
Lord had to force His human will to obey the Divine
will, just as we have to do. But He determined to do
it, however hard. That was the grand thing. Therefore
He can understand our struggles to do it. Can
sympathize with and pity us, and rejoice with us when
we conquer like Himself. If He had kept His power as
God to help Him, would it be half so grand or so
helpful to us? What does He say about getting His own
will? (v. 36).
No matter how hard to do or bear, let
that be always our prayer. When it comes to praying
that, the struggle grows quieter. Like as with our
Lord, there comes a great calm—the calm of victory—and
"there appeared an angel from Heaven strengthening
Him." So with us, too.
How many times did He go to see if disciples were
keeping watch with Him? Why? His heart yearned for
their comfort—and sympathy. And what did He find each
time? Yes. They failed Him—miserably, shamefully. Was
He very angry? No. Would you be, if some day in
horrible misery you found sisters or mother quietly
sleeping while you were suffering? "Much they care,"
you would say angrily. You would not trouble to make
allowances or excuses for them. Not so Jesus Christ.
See what He says: (v. 38)
"Ah!" He says, "the
spirit is willing enough; it is only the flesh that is
weak." He knew it was not that they did not care, but
they were so dead tired, perhaps up previous night with
Him. Is it not touching to see Him actually
apologizing for them, making excuses for them, trying
to look for the good in them where others would only
see the evil? Is it not comforting to us to think He is
like that—like a father with bad son looking for any
little trace of good in him, delighted to find it,
making every allowance for him—looking for the good
motive at bottom of mistaken action—looking for the
sorrow and penitence in his heart, when others only see
his faults and his sin. Thank God we have such a