Matthew 26:38

ESV Then he said to them, "My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me."
NIV Then he said to them, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me."
NASB Then He *said to them, 'My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.'
CSB He said to them, "I am deeply grieved to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake with me."
NLT He told them, 'My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.'
KJV Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.
NKJV Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.”

What does Matthew 26:38 mean?

Jesus knows that very soon Judas will arrive with the chief priests and elders to arrest Him (Matthew 26:46–47). He has led the disciples to a favorite spot at Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives (Matthew 26:36). He left eight of them sitting a distance away and continued into the garden with his inner circle of Peter, James, and John (Matthew 26:37).

Now Jesus does something unique in His depiction in the Gospels. He confesses a deeply troubled state of mind. Jesus describes this as being so distressed that He almost feels the emotion would kill Him. Other Gospels explain the strain of this moment in similar ways (Mark 14:34). The three men He has brought into this private area are there, it seems, to provide Jesus with company.

Jesus' language describing His distress resembles some of what David wrote in the Psalms. For instance, David wrote in Psalm 143:3–4, "For the enemy has pursued my soul; he has crushed my life to the ground; he has made me sit in darkness like those long dead. Therefore my spirit faints within me; my heart within me is appalled."

Christians are sometimes tempted to think that feelings of sadness are a kind of failure. Many who have walked closely with God, however, have also experienced deep feelings of sorrow and emotional agony. This is part of the human experience, and Jesus is fully human (Hebrews 4:15). He knows what it is like to feel that way and was able to say so to His most trusted friends.

Some interpreters see Jesus' remark here as more literal than emotional. Luke, the physician, refers to Jesus' sweat as resembling bloody drips (Luke 22:44). This has led to speculation that Jesus was hemorrhaging blood from the skin. The more likely situation is that Jesus was profusely sweating. Christ was certainly enduring emotional trauma. Luke also reports that an angel from heaven appeared to strengthen Jesus (Luke 22:43). His mortal, human body needed help to endure the anticipation of what was to come.
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