The depth of Jesus' sorrow exceeded that of any man, either before or since these final moments of His human freedom:
Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Behold and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow, which has been brought on me, which the Lord has inflicted in the day of His fierce anger. From above He has sent fire into my bones, and it overpowered them; He has spread a net for my feet and turned me back; He has made me desolate and faint all the day. (Lamentations 1:12-13)
Note the words "all the day." Jesus, on this last day of His human life, would be afflicted with utter desolation and faintness. We cannot comprehend the level of incomparable sorrow and distress into which Jesus descended on His arrival at Gethsemane. Our modern ideas of depression do not even come near it. The words "even to death" in Matthew 26:38 strongly suggest that, had He sunk any lower, He would have died right then and there. But He was determined to stay alive because He knew that the time set for His death had not yet come and that, to fulfill all things, He had to carry the sins of the world for several hours more.
We tend to equate agony with great bodily pain, but even though no one had physically laid a finger on Jesus at this point, His time of great agony had begun: "And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground" (Luke 22:44).
But why did our Savior suddenly become so very sorrowful? What was in His mind that brought such agonizing sorrow upon Him? Was it because of the despite and rejection by every generation of mankind? Or that His closest friends were either betraying Him or forsaking Him? Was it because He feared the fast-approaching hours of physical torture? Or that He dreaded the blackness of death itself? These may have been factors, but the evidence renders it more likely that the major reasons were these:
» The humanly unbearable weight and pain of the knowledge and burden of thousands of years of mankind's sins.
» The horrifying fact that, as the sins of the world were being laid upon Him, He was actually becoming the sin of the world (II Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13).
» The knowledge that His Father must now turn away from Him because of the sin that He—Jesus—bore and was now becoming.
» The thought of the fast-approaching, total separation from His Father.
On this last point, Isaiah 53:8 prophesies that Jesus would be "cut off from the land of the living." He was to be cut off from His human brothers and sisters who were imperfect, who enjoyed a temporary, physical life, but whose sins had caused His suffering and death. More importantly and painfully for Him, He was to be cut off from communication with His perfect, loving, and eternal Father: "And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, 'Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?' that is, 'My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?'" (Matthew 27:46)
"Forsaken" comes from the Greek verb egkataleipo, indicating that Jesus, in the delirium that preceded His death, was crying out to His Father, "Why have You deserted Me? Why have You left Me behind in this place?"
Jesus' Final Human Thoughts (Part One)
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Matthew 26:38: