We are about to step onto holy ground. Today we begin looking at the depths of agony and pain Jesus endured for sinners like you and me. Even before He went to the cross, He endured an incredible amount of emotional pain. Keep in mind, what we are about to look at day is about 12 hours away from Jesus hanging on the cross. The cross is beginning to cast its shadow.
As followers of Jesus, we need to know more about who we are following. The more we know and understand who Jesus is the better we can follow Him. Today, we learn something significant about Jesus. We are going to see the emotional pain Jesus went through in order to rescue you and me from our sins.
Have you ever seen the levels of pain chart? It goes from 0 (no pain) to 10 (worst pain possible). Doctors will ask you to rate your pain and you would say it’s a 5 or 6. There are variations of this to help diagnose emotional pain or mental pain. My question is, is there any pain worse than 10? Is there anything beyond that? Yes, there is. Only one person has experienced it and only one person could ever experience it and that is Jesus. We see this in Mark 14:32-34.
They went to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and Jesus said, “Sit here while I go and pray.”33 He took Peter, James, and John with him, and he became deeply troubled and distressed.34 He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”(Mark 14:32-34, NLT)
A few hours before this, at the Last Supper, Jesus held some bread that looked like it had been bruised and cut and said, “This is my body.” He then held up a cup of wine and said, “This is my blood poured out for many” (Mark 14:24). The greatest pain on the cross was not the external pain, but the internal pain. No one has ever experience the anguish, grief, and pressure that Jesus felt that night in the garden of Gethsemane.
Here is what I want us to do today. I want you to listen carefully and think deeply today. As a follower of Jesus, I want you to be amazed, astounded, and overwhelmed what Jesus endured for you prior to the cross. I want you to be blown away by Jesus’ love and commitment to you and to the Heavenly Father. To help us get a glimpse of this I want to frame our thoughts around three words: crushed, anguish, and grief. All three of those words will help us understand what Jesus experienced. This will help you to understand and appreciate and love the Person you are following.
The first word is crushed. Mark tells us in verse 32, they went to the olive grove called Gethsemane. Let’s set the scene. This olive grove (or garden) was privately owned. The space within Jerusalem was so limited that there was no room for gardens. However, many wealthy people had private gardens out on the Mount of Olives. Some wealthy friend of Jesus had given Him the privilege of using such a garden, and it was there that Jesus went to fight His lonely battle.
As a private olive garden, it would have had walls around it and an entrance gate. It would have been at the entrance gate that Jesus left eight of the disciples and walked further into the garden with Peter, James, and John.
The name Gethsemane means oil press. It received its name due to the fact there was an olive press installed on the grounds. The symbolism here is impressive and no accident. An oil press works like this. A farmer would grab the branches of the olive trees and tap the branches with a stick. They would then pick up the fallen olives which over half its weight is pure oil. Next the pits are removed, and the olives are placed into the large basin and the pressing and crushing begins by rolling a large millstone over them. The oil would flow into a container to be used later for lamps, cosmetics, and anointing ceremonies.
Gethsemane, the place of the oil press, will be the place where Jesus would begin being pressed and crushed by the weight of our sins. Isaiah 53 prophesied about this saying Jesus would be “pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins” (Isaiah 53:5, NLT). We will get a glimpse of the intensity of this crushing in the next verse.
When they get to Gethsemane Jesus said to His disciples, Sit here while I go and pray. We are about to get a good look at the humanity of Jesus. Jesus is both fully God and fully man, but He is operating in His humanity at this moment. He tells most of the disciples to sit at the entrance while He goes and talks to the Heavenly Father about what is about to happen. Jesus needs His disciples. He needs their support at this time. It is about to get tough, and He knows it.
I think Jesus is showing us something here. No matter how strong you are, you always will need the support of others. There are people in your life who are what I call the “sit here people.” They are not your closest friends, but they are there. At this moment, they are there for Jesus. You need those people. AND you need to be that person sometimes. It is always nice to know that when you are going through something difficult there are people who love you and support you.
Jesus told them He would go and pray. When you are about to be crushed or are being pressed down you need to be in deep conversations with your Heavenly Father. This is not a time to walk out of the garden, but to walk into it. John writes about this moment in John 18 saying, “After saying these things, Jesus crossed the Kidron Valley with his disciples and entered a grove of olive trees. 2 Judas, the betrayer, knew this place, because Jesus had often gone there with his disciples” (John 18:1-2, NLT). This tells me that Jesus had a habit of going to this place and praying. This is where He would get away from the crowds and spend time alone with His disciples teaching them and talking to the Father. Jesus did not just pray when things got bad, He had a lifestyle of prayer. For Jesus, prayer was not reactive, but proactive.
Here in Gethsemane, Jesus would begin to feel the pressure and crushing weight upon His soul.
This brings us to our second word, anguish. In verse 33, Mark tells us that Jesus took Peter, James, and John with him. When facing a crisis, most of us want moral support from others. Jesus was no different. Leaving the other eight disciples at the entrance, Jesus took the three disciples closest to Him. They had been with Jesus during the best of times and now during the worst of times. True friendship operates in this fashion.
By now the other disciples were used to Peter, James, and John being a part of the inner circle of Jesus. This has happened at least two times before. Once in the house of Jairus, when they had been chosen to witness His greatness in the raising of a little girl to life, and once to be with Him and witness His glory on the Mont of Transfiguration. Now they were taken aside to witness His grief.
I do believe that Jesus invited these three men deeper into the garden with Him for moral support and prayer support. However, I think there was another reason as well. Jesus not only wanted their company, but Jesus also wanted them to learn something significant. At the end of verse 34 Jesus tells them to, stay here and keep watch with me. What did Jesus mean by that? What does Jesus mean for them to keep watch? To watch what? The phrase keep watch (gregoreuo) means to continually be on the alert and to maintain an attitude of vigilance. It means to stay awake and pay attention, be mentally alert, and observe intently. A literal translation of this would be, “Remain here and watch” (ESV). So, what does Jesus want them to see? So far they had watched Jesus walk on water, watch Jesus calm the storm, watch Jesus raise the dead, watch Jesus cast out demons, watch Jesus confront false teaching, watch Jesus heal the blind and watched Him do many other wonderful things. Now, they are to watch Jesus grieve, be distressed, be troubled and horrified.
This watching is not to be like watching a show for entertainment or watching an instructional video but watching for the purpose of learning and praying. In verse 38 Jesus would say to them, “Keep watch and pray….” I want you to learn how to pray through grief, pray through sorrow, pray when you are crushed by others sin.
He also wanted them to watch and pray so they could learn how to grieve and not sin. Learning how to face the horror of sin and not fall into more sin. Jesus would say in verse 38, “Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation” (NLT).
If they were to watch Jesus, what would they see? They would see four things and they are all related. They would begin to see the emotional crushing and anguish of what is happening to Him. Let’s see if we can see some of it as well.
They would see Jesus being deeply troubled (ekthambeo). The Greek word means to be quite astonished, greatly amazed, moved to an intense emotional state because of something causing great surprise and perplexity. It has the idea of being greatly disturbed.
This Greek word occurs only two other places, both in the Gospel of Mark.
We have met this word before. In Mark 9, Jesus came down from the Mount of Transfiguration and when the people saw Him, they “were overwhelmed with awe” (Mark 9:15, NLT). The glory of that other world, revealed in all its awe-inspiring magnificence on the mount itself, seems to have left its aura about Jesus. The people were greatly amazed, astonished, and deeply troubled.
It would be the same on the Lord’s resurrection morning; when the women came to the tomb and saw the angel there, they were “shocked” (Mark 16:5, NLT) and were told, “Don’t be alarmed” (v.6, NLT). Again, it was contact with another world that awed them.
In Gethsemane, the Lord was brought into contact with another world too – the world of our sin, the world of unspeakable horror that lay before Him at the cross when He would take upon Himself our guilt, our rebellion, our shame, our transgression, our evil, our wickedness, and be “made sin for us” (2 Cor. 5:21). He became deeply troubled. He was stunned with astonishment. It depicts the pain that results from some great shock. The Lord had lived on this sin-cursed planet ever since He was born in Bethlehem. He had rubbed shoulders with sinning humanity all His life. But this was different. This was sin in all its undiluted wickedness. The Lord’s first reaction to the full horror and atrocity of human sin seems to have been one of overwhelming shock. The reality exceeded all His expectations. The intensity of the pain was so great that he was astonished by it.
They would also see Jesus being distressed (ademoneo). The Greek word means excessively concerned, to greatly loathe something, intense discomfort of what one is seeing, be upset, be dismayed, heavy state of restlessness. This is to be very uncomfortable. It is to be in a situation in He no longer felt at home. When you think of this word distressed, think of a ship that is in distress. The wind is blowing against it, the waves are crashing in on it, and the storm is raging. For Jesus, the full force of a hurricane of sin was beginning to crash upon Him. He was becoming distressed.
They also saw Jesus being grieved (lupeo). When Matthew describes this moment, he uses a different word to help us understand what is happening. In Matthew 26:37, Matthew says Jesus “began to be grieved” (NASB). The Greek word is used when there is a deep emotional pain of grief and sorrow. It is a sense of great heaviness that comes over someone when they hear or see something that tears at their heart. We will talk more about this grief in a moment.
They also saw Jesus being in agony (agonia). When Luke describes this moment he says Jesus “was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood” (Luke 22:44, NLT). It refers to extreme mental distress, extreme distress of body and mind. He was mentally tormented by what He was seeing. The intensity of it was increasing.
Jesus knew the cross was coming, He knew that He would be dying for the sins of others, He knew the beatings, mockery, and humiliating that was about to happen. That is not what horrified Him. It was something else. He was beginning to look into the cup of God’s wrath for the sin’s of humanity and what He was saw horrified Him!
This brings us to our third word grief. In verse 34 Jesus says, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
The phrase to the point of death accurately describes the depth and scope of His grief. It was so deep, so severe, and so intense that it was coming close to killing Him. This description ultimately defies human comprehension!
I think each of us will have our own minor Gethsemane. Where we feel the pressure of doing God’s will and sacrificing for others who don’t understand us, reject us, deny us, while saying they would never leave us. Jesus is showing us and giving us an example of how to follow God’s will when following God’s will requires great sacrifice on our part.
When Jesus says that He is being crushed with grief (perilupos), He is not talking about reluctant grief, but necessary grief. It is the grief you experience when you know that to do the right thing, which you want to do, will cost you. It will cost friendships, money, or comfort. Grief is the anguish you feel when you lose something, or you know you are about to lose something. Regarding Jesus, He is deeply grieved, the affliction He feels from this grief is beyond measure.
At this point, we have to ask, why is Jesus so tormented by His upcoming death. History is full of people who faced their deaths with greater composure and courage than Jesus did. What is it that is really grieving Jesus regarding His upcoming death?
The answer includes Jesus’ awareness of facing something more than simply His own death. Jesus knew very well how He was doing to die. Back in Mark 10:45, Jesus spoke about His purpose when He said He came “to give His life as a ransom for many.” It’s one thing to die, but it is another thing to be “pierced for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:4-5). In Isaiah 53:10 we are told, “It was the Lord’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief” (NLT).
It’s one thing to answer for our own sins before a holy and almighty God; who can imagine what it would be like to stand before God to answer for every sin and crime and act of wickedness, evil, and immorality committed by every human that lived, is living and ever will live. Jesus was not grieving His death, but grieving the sin He must bear that would separate Him from the Heavenly Father. For Jesus, He is not grieving over His death, but over the loss of the fellowship that He has with the Heavenly Father. This loss will occur when He is made sin for us on the cross (2 Cor. 5:21). This is why He will cry out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”
 Warren Weirsbe has interesting insight asking, “But why a garden? Human history began in a garden (Gen. 2:7-25) and so did human sin (Gen. 3). For the redeemed, the whole story will climax in a ‘garden city’ where there will be no sin (Rev. 21:1-22:7). But between the garden where man failed and the garden where God reigns is Gethsemane, the garden where Jesus accepted the cup from the Father’s hand.
 “Pray” (proseuchomai) is used only of prayer directed consciously to God, with a definite aim. Notice this verse has the prefixed preposition pros which means towards and adds the idea of definiteness of one’s focus, a conscious direction of one’s prayer as directed to God, and a consciousness on the part of the one praying, of God’s presence and attention to our please. This is a key word in Mark 14 used four times (vs. 32, 35, 38, 39).
 Hematidrosis is a condition in which capillary blood vessels that feed the sweat glands rupture, causing them to exude blood, occurring under conditions of extreme physical or emotional stress. Severe mental anxiety activates the sympathetic nervous system to invoke the stress-fight or flight reaction to such a degree as to cause hemorrhage of the vessels supplying the sweat glands into the ducts of the sweat glands. Agonia was used to refer to the trembling excitement and anxiety produced by fear or tension before a wrestling match or a fight.
 This statement by Jesus echoes the haunting lament of the downcast and dejected soul of Psalm 42:6, 12 and 43:5.