Jesus: Man of sorrows
Scripture reading: Isaiah 53 or Psalm 22
Today we are going to look at a very intimate portion of Scripture-- Matthew 26:36-46, wherein, within
hours of being arrested, tried, and then crucified, Christ says these words to his disciples in the garden
of Gethsemane "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death"
Some of you, because of some of your experiences in the school of suffering, have a close appreciation
of what Jesus is saying.
While "knowing" what Jesus was saying, might I suggest -given what Jesus was about to do (take our
sins upon himself)- that the sorrow of Christ plumbed deeper than what you and I will ever know.
As noted: The key verse in Matthew 26:36-46 is v.38, wherein Jesus says; "My soul is overwhelmed
with sorrow to the point of death."
Jesus' saying "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death" reminds me of two of the
greatest Messianic passages in the Old Testament Scriptures: Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22
In Isaiah 53:3 it says of Jesus "He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar
Similarly, in Psalm 22:14, wherein David speaks prophetically of Christ and his sufferings, it says "I am
poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted
away within me."
READ MATTHEW 26:36-46-- note that this account is shared in Mark 14 and Luke 22
Before reading, note the context:
-Jesus had gone up to Jerusalem, fully aware that he was going to be betrayed and then crucified on a
cross. On numerous occasions Jesus announced this to his disciples.
-Just prior to his taking his disciples to Gethsemane (a place where he went regularly) Jesus celebrated
the Passover with his disciples -declaring himself to be the fulfillment of what the Passover was all
about. At this Passover meal he identified Judas as his betrayer and prophesied that all his disciples-
that very night- would all abandon him.
-Gethsemane is a garden at the foot of the Mount of Olives (the same Mount from which Jesus
ascended following his resurrection)
-Gethsemane means "oil press". Truly on this night, Jesus felt the pressure of what He was about to
soon experience "becoming sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God." 2 Corinthians
Before reading: Note that Jesus: The man of sorrows, understands our sorrows
He knows what grief is. He knows what suffering is. He's a Savior who completely understands us and
our sorrows. He has identified with us in every way-- except that in all things he was perfect. Don't
hesitate to go to Christ with your sorrows and troubles-- He knows what it's like.
"We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who
has been tempted in every way, just as we are- yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne
of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."
I. THOUGHTS ON THE SORROW OF CHRIST IN MATTHEW 26:36-46
a. It serves as evidence of his true humanity (for he was fully God and fully man)
b. These were sorrows that he embraced for us. In obeying the will of the FatherJesus came down to
Earth- -- for our salvation
c. This is not the first time Jesus experienced sorrow. He knew it when tried by Satan in the
wilderness. He knew it when John the Baptist was beheaded. He knew it when reviled by the Pharisees
and laughed at by the crowds.
d. It was anticipatory in the sense that he is completely aware of what was coming next.
e. As it relates to Matthew 26:36-46, Jesus' sorrow had everything to do with the "cup" he was about
to drink-- The cup of God's wrath. This filled Jesus' heart with sorrow.
The "cup" Jesus was about to drink
-The cup of God's wrath (See Jeremiah 25:15ff)
-The anger of the Father for sin-- poured out upon him
-Jesus was about to become our sin bearer. He was about to go to the cross as our substitute-- taking
upon himself the punishment we deserve for our sins and rebellious ways-- that whoever believes in
Jesus as Savior and Lord may have the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. As 2 Corinthians 5:21 says;
"God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of
God." Furthermore, Galatians 3:13-- drawing on Deuteronomy 21:23 says; "Christ redeemed us from
the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a
II. A consideration of how Jesus handled the test that was before him: HE PRAYED
In what was close to his darkest hour what does Jesus do-- knowing what Judas has done, knowing
that his disciples would soon run away, knowing that he was an hour away from being arrested and
beaten and then crucified?
Note what Jesus does and doesn't do--- He doesn't get drunk, he doesn't go on some wild bender, he
doesn't abandon himself to sin, he doesn't try to sneak out of town, He doesn't do drugs, he doesn't
In James 5:13 it says; "Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing
songs of praise."
NOTE: THIS MOMENT IN THE GARDEN WAS SURELY A TEST ACCOMPANIED BY TEMPTATION
A closer look at Jesus' prayers in the Garden
a. His posture was one of humility, sorrow, and surrender
b. He addresses God as Father
This is how we are to pray.
Every time Jesus prayed except when he was on the cross, Jesus called God "Father".
To speak of God as Father was an intimate act. When the average Jew prayed they did not call God
their personal Father. Jesus, when he prayed, spoke of God in a personal and close way. Mark goes
even further saying that Jesus called God "Abba" which means daddy.
In reading Matthew Henry's commentary on this text I noted this sentence on the subject of Jesus
addressing God as Father--- "Whither should the child go, when any thing grieves him, but to his
c. He prays 3 times
Jesus' threefold prayer teaches us that it's a-ok to pray repeatedly about the same thing
Paul did: Though the Lord declined to give him what he asked. 2 Corinthians 12:7-9 says; "To keep me
from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn
in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away
from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on
Such is called persevering in prayer and so exampled in the parable of the widow and the judge (Luke
d. Jesus' chief concern was obeying and doing the Father's will
Interesting: 3 times Jesus raises the question of whether there was another way to save us. v.39, 42,
The answer, which he already knew, was no. The blood of bulls and goats and sheep and doves --all
used in the Temple sacrificial system for sin-- were never sufficient for the forgiveness of sins. Jesus
knew this- and yet in the face of becoming our sin bearer- as the once for all sacrifice for sin- Jesus,
facing the greatest test of his earthly life, asked the question.
While Jesus asked the question-- facing this great test he distinguishes himself in all cases by saying
"Yet not as I will, but as you will"
Such reminds us of Hebrews 5:7-9, which says; "During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up
prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was
heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he
suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him."
Such reminds us when Jesus taught us to pray "Thy will be done on Earth as it is done in Heaven"
While we may pray many kinds of prayers, we must always surrender ourselves to the known will of
While we may struggle with the will of God-- and such tests do come- we must always say yes to
God-- even though saying yes will cost us physically, financially, or any other way.
e. He expected and hoped to be joined/supported in prayer by his disciples
In ones time of need, it's reasonable to expect to be joined in support by our families, by our church,
by those who love us. Hence Jesus takes his disciples with him to the Garden of Gethsemane and then
he specifically takes the 3 disciples who were the closest to him, with him and then note Jesus'
bidding "Stay here and keep watch with me"--- which is a call to prayer.
While the disciples failed Christ-- by falling asleep while Jesus' heart was breaking- so fulfilling the
words of Christ-- who said that they all would fall away and abandon him (and this was part of it) the
lesson of praying for and with each other in our various times of need, should not be lost on us***
Thus, let us be found praying together and praying for one another.
A note on the disciples failure to stand with Jesus in prayer and support
Jesus was gentle with them. His rebuke was tender.
Jesus was a man of sorrows- the prophets spoke of it and it was so
We have in Jesus one who identifies with us our in our sufferings
The sorrow of Christ in Matthew 26:36-46 primarily concerns his soon partaking of the cup of God's
wrath for our sins. WHAT SHOULD OUR RESPONSE BE IN LIGHT OF JESUS TAKING THE PUNISHMENT
How did Jesus handle this great test and the temptation that came with it? He prayed. Prayer needs to
be a staple in our lives
Not my will but yours be done must always be our conclusion
We need to lift one another up in prayer and be involved in carrying each others burdens