Few had fellowship with the sorrows of Gethsemane. The majority of the disciples were not sufficiently advanced in grace to be admitted to behold the mysteries of the agony. Occupied with the Passover feast at their own houses, they represent the many who live upon the letter but are mere babes as to the spirit of the Gospel. To twelve, no, to only eleven the privilege was given to enter Gethsemane and see "this great sight." Out of the eleven, eight were left at a distance; they had fellowship, but not of that intimate sort to which men greatly beloved are admitted. Only three highly favored ones could approach the veil of our Lord's mysterious sorrow. Within that veil even they must not intrude; they remain a stone's throw apart. He must tread the winepress alone, and of the people there must be none with Him.
Peter and the two sons of Zebedee represent the few eminent, experienced saints who may be written down as "Father"; those doing business on the great waters can in some degree measure the huge Atlantic waves of their Redeemer's passion. To some selected spirits it is given, for the good of others and to strengthen them for future, special, and tremendous conflict, to enter the inner circle and hear the pleadings of the suffering High Priest; they have fellowship with Him in his sufferings, becoming like Him in His death. Yet even these cannot penetrate the secret places of the Savior's woe. "Thine unknown sufferings" is the remarkable expression of the Greek liturgy: There was an inner chamber in our Master's grief, shut out from human knowledge and fellowship. There Jesus is "left alone." Here Jesus was more than ever an "unspeakable gift!" Is not Watts right when he sings--
And all the unknown joys he gives,
Were bought with agonies unknown.
verse 1 Exodus 32
verse 2 John 11
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From Morning & Evening revised and edited by Alistair Begg copyright © 2003. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org.