verified by Psychology Today

Hay House Publisher

Weekly Wisdom Series sign-up



Yoga of the Subtle Body course

Cincinnati Men's Gathering

Jesus Prays All Night Alone, And Still Is Arrested

The literal and spiritual meanings of
Matthew 26:36-56

Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.”

“The description of the Lord's suffering of such temptations when He was in the world is brief in the Gospels, but in the Prophets, and especially in the Psalms of David, it is extensive. The fact that He had been undergoing temptations from earliest childhood through to the end of His life in the world, that is, had been engaged in conflicts with the hells, was not revealed by Him, as accords with the following words in Isaiah, ‘He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth. He is led like a lamb to the slaughter, and like a sheep before its shearers is dumb, He did not open His mouth.’ Isaiah 53:7.

“His final temptation was in Gethsemane, followed by the passion of the Cross. Through this temptation He completely subdued the hells, as He Himself teaches in John, ‘Then Jesus said, “Now is the judgment of this world, now will the prince of this world be cast outdoors.”’ John 12:31.” Arcana Celestia n.9937

“Some of the Lord's temptations were more external, others more internal. The more internal they were, the more severe they were. His inmost temptations are described [here] in Matthew 26.” Arcana Celestia n.2819

And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.”

“For the law from God is the law of order, and the law of order so far as those passing through a state of molestations by falsities are concerned is that they must be molested until they reach the point of despair. Unless they reach the point of despair the final advantage to be gained from molestation is lost. The fact that temptation grows ever stronger until a person reaches the point of despair is plainly evident from the Lord's temptation in Gethsemane, and also after that on the Cross, when it was made to reach the state of despair. Now the Lord's temptation is the pattern which the temptation of faithful believers follows, which is why the Lord says that those who wish to follow Him must take up their cross. For the glorification of the Lord is the pattern that the regeneration of man follows; and regeneration is effected chiefly by means of temptations. Arcana Celestia n.7166

He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”

“Because Jehovah or the Father was within Him, that is, He was in the Father and Father in Him – ‘hearkening to Jehovah's voice’ is used to mean that the Lord through temptations united the Divine to the Human by His own power.” Arcana Celestia n.3381

Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.”

“[People] should battle against the falsities and evils which the hells introduce. The truths of faith are the means for fighting that battle, and they are of help because they strengthen the forms of good and the truths opposed to falsities and evils….A person should fight as if he did so in his own strength, yet he should acknowledge and believe that he does so in the Lord's. If a person does not fight as if in his own strength he does not make his own the goodness and truth that flow in from the Lord by way of heaven. But when a person does fight as if in his own strength and yet believes that he does so in the Lord's, he does make those things his own. This gives him a new proprium or selfhood, called a heavenly proprium, which is a new will.

“People in the throes of temptation who take no action other than to send up prayers do not realize that if their temptation were ended before running its full course their preparation for heaven would not be accomplished, and so they could not be saved. For this reason also little heed is paid to the prayers of those in the throes of temptation; for the Lord desires the end in view, which is the person's salvation. The Lord knows that goal, but the person does not, and the Lord does not do what prayers ask for if that is contrary to the goal, which is salvation. The truth of this also becomes more firmly established with the person who conquers in temptations. When one does not conquer he entertains doubts about God's help and power because he is not heard. Then sometimes, because he stays his hands, he gives in to a degree….

“Prayer, when inspired by God, always includes the thought and belief that the Lord alone knows whether what is sought would be beneficial or not. Therefore the one who prays leaves the Lord to decide whether to listen to what he asks for, and then accordingly pleads that the Lord's will may be done, not his own, in keeping with the Lord's words uttered in Gethsemane during His severest temptation.” Arcana Celestia n.8179

And He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy. So He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.

“In every Divine work there is a first, a middle and a last; the first passes through the middle to the last, and so exists and subsists; consequently, the last is the basis….It will be comprehended by the learned that these three may be called end, cause and effect; also being, becoming and existing. Consequently, in everything that is complete there is a trine, called the first, the middle and the last; also, the end, the cause and the effect. When one understands these things then also does one understand that every Divine work is complete and perfect in its last; and also that the whole is in the last, which is a trine, because the prior things are in it simultaneously.

“For this reason by three in the Word, in its spiritual sense, is understood what is complete and perfect, and thus all inclusive; and because this is the signification of that number it is used in the Word when such a meaning is intended, as when Jesus prayed three times in Gethsemane.” Doctrine of the Sacred Scripture nn.27-29

Then He came to His disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand.”

“The Lord's Divine Rational as regards good could not suffer, nor undergo temptations, for no genius or spirit initiating temptations is able to get near Divine good, as this stands above their every endeavor to tempt. But Divine truth once it had been bound was that which could be tempted, for illusions, and still more falsities, are what invade it and so tempt it. Indeed some idea of Divine truth can be formed, but not of Divine good except by beings who have perception and are celestial angels. It was Divine truth that people no longer acknowledged at the time of the Lord's Coming into the world, and therefore it was Divine truth from which the Lord underwent and suffered temptations. Divine truth within the Lord is that which is called the Son of Man, whereas Divine good within Him is that which is called the Son of God. Speaking of the Son of Man the Lord many times says that He is to suffer, but He never says this when He refers to the Son of God. The fact that He speaks of the Son of Man, or Divine truth, having to suffer, is clear in Matthew.” Arcana Celestia n.2813

And while He was still speaking, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, with a great multitude with swords and clubs, came from the chief priests and elders of the people.

“As ‘swords’ signify falsities destroying truths, and ‘woods’ signify evils destroying good, so by command of the chief priests: ‘A multitude went out with Judas Iscariot against Jesus, with swords and staves.’ This was done because all things relating to the Lord's passion were representative of the destruction of all things of good and truth.” Apocalypse Explained n.1145

“Mention is frequently made in the Word of [swords] and by them nothing else is meant but truth fighting against untruths and destroying them, and also in the opposite sense what is untrue fighting against truths; for by ‘wars’ in the Word spiritual wars are signified, and these are of what is true against what is untrue and of what is untrue against what is true, and therefore by ‘weapons of war’ such things are signified as are fought with in these wars.” Apocalypse Revealed n.52

Now His betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “Whomever I kiss, He is the One; seize Him.” Immediately he went up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed Him.

“Nothing internal could be plainly revealed to [the people], as is evident from the Old Testament Word. They were indeed rooted in this worst kind of self-love, and therefore, if their avarice had not removed them very far away from internal things and as a consequence had not kept them in thickest darkness, they would have defiled interior truths and goods, and in so defiling them would have rendered them profane more than anyone else did. For they are unable to profane them as long as they do not acknowledge them. This is why the Lord says of them in John,
‘You are from your father the devil, and the desires of your father you will to do. He was a murderer from the beginning.’ John 8:44. And of Judas Iscariot who represented the Jewish Church He says in the same gospel, ‘Did I not choose you twelve, but one of you is a devil?’ John 6:70. Also when he sold the Lord, Judas’ representation was similar to that which Judah who said, ‘Come, and let us sell Joseph.’” Arcana Celestia n.4751

But Jesus said to him, “Friend, why have you come?” Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and took Him.

“Then they asked whether this acting as if from himself was implanted in a person from creation. An angel replied, ‘It was not, because to act from himself belongs to God alone, but He gives it unceasingly, that is, joins it [to the person] unceasingly; and then so far as one does good and believes truth as if from himself, he is an angel of heaven; while so far as he does evil and from that believes falsity, which he also does as if from himself, he is a spirit of hell. You may wonder that he does this also as if from himself, nevertheless you can see that it is so, when you pray to be guarded from the devil lest he seduce you, and enter into you as he did into Judas, and fill you with all iniquity, and destroy you soul and body. But a person becomes guilty when he believes that he acts from himself, whether in doing good or evil, and not when he believes that he acts as if from himself; for when he believes that the good is from himself, he claims as his own what belongs to God, and when he believes the evil to be from himself he attributes to himself what belongs to the devil.” True Christian Religion n.621

And suddenly, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear. But Jesus said to him, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.

“It is clear what is meant by the Lord's words to Peter: ‘All they that take the sword shall perish by the sword,’namely, that those who believe falsities will perish by falsities.” Apocalypse Explained n.131

Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?”

“In temptations a person ought to fight against evils and falsities as if in his own strength; yet he must believe that he does so in the Lord's. If he does not believe this during actual temptation, because at the time it is not clear to him, he must nevertheless believe it afterwards. If after temptation a person does not believe that the Lord alone has fought for him and brought him victory, the temptation he has undergone is merely external. Such temptation does not extend into him deeply or cause anything of faith and charity to take root.” Arcana Celestia n.8969

“The passion of the cross was the last temptation which the Lord, as the greatest Prophet, endured, and was the means whereby His Human was glorified, that is, whereby it was united with the Divine of the Father; but it was not redemption. There are two things for which the Lord came into the world, and by means of which He saved men and angels, namely, redemption and the glorification of His Human. These two are distinct from each other; and yet in reference to salvation they make one. It has been shown in the preceding sections what the work of redemption was, namely, that it was a combat against the hells, a subjugation of the hells, and a restoration of order in the heavens. But glorification is the uniting of the Lord's Human with the Divine of His Father. This was effected gradually, and was completed through the passion of the cross. For every man on his part ought to draw near to God; and as far as man does draw near, God on His part enters into him. It is the same as with a temple, which first must be built, and this is done by the hands of men; afterwards it must be dedicated; and finally prayer must be made for God to be present and there unite Himself with the church. The union itself was made complete through the passion of the cross, because that was the last temptation endured by the Lord in the world; and it is by means of temptations that conjunction is effected. For in temptations apparently man is left to himself alone, although he is not; for God is then most nearly present in man's inmosts and sustains him; therefore when man conquers in temptation he is inmostly conjoined with God, as in temptation the Lord was inmostly united to God His Father.” True Christian Religion n.126

In that hour Jesus said to the multitudes, “Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs to take Me? I sat daily with you, teaching in the temple, and you did not seize Me. But all this was done that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.”

“The Lord overcame, subdued, and cast out the evil which from what was hereditary had wormed itself also into this first rational, for, as has been stated, the rational was conceived from the Internal Man, which was Jehovah, as a father, and born from the exterior as a mother. Whatever was born from the exterior man possessed this hereditary element within it, thus evil as well. This was what the Lord overcame, subdued, and cast out by His own power and at length made Divine.” Arcana Celestia n.1921

“From good which is Jehovah's He united the Divine Essence to the Human Essence, and from truth united the Human Essence to the Divine Essence, and so achieved every single thing all from Himself. Indeed His Human was left to Itself in order that of Himself He might fight against all the hells and overcome them; and because He had life within Himself, as stated, which was His own, He overcame them by His own power and strength, as is also clearly stated in the places quoted from the Prophets. So then, because He acquired all things to Himself by His own powers, He became Righteousness, cleared the world of spirits of hellish genii and spirits, and in so doing rescued the human race from destruction - for the human race is governed by means of spirits- and thus redeemed it. This is why the Old Testament Word speaks so often of Him as Rescuer and Redeemer, and also Savior, as His name Jesus describes.” Arcana Celestia n. 2025

“The Lord came into the world that He might save the human race, which otherwise would have perished in eternal death; and He saved them by this, that He subjugated the hells, which infested every man coming into the world and going out of the world; and at the same time by this, that He glorified His Human: for thus He can keep the hells in subjugation to eternity. The subjugation of the hells, and the glorification of His Human at the same time, were effected by means of temptations admitted into the human which He had from the mother, and by continual victories therein. His passion on the cross was the last temptation and full victory.” Heavenly Doctrines n.293

“The passion of the Cross was the utmost degree of temptation endured by the Lord, by means of which He fully united the Human to the Divine and the Divine to the Human, and by doing this glorified Himself. That union itself is the means by which people possessing faith in Him that is grounded in charity are able to be saved. For the Supreme Divine Itself was no longer able to reach the human race which had removed itself so far away from the celestial things of love, and from the spiritual things of faith, that people did not even recognize them any more, let alone perceive them. Consequently to enable the Supreme Divine to come down to all such as this, the Lord came into the world and united the Human to the Divine within Himself. This union could not have been effected except by means of the very severe conflicts brought about by temptations and by means of victories in these, and at length by means of the final temptation, which was that of the Cross.

“As a result of this the Lord is able from the Divine Human to enlighten human minds, even those that are quite remote from the celestial things of love, provided that faith grounded in charity is present in them….It is the Lord's Divine Human that enlightens both the eyes and the understanding of those who are spiritual, but this could never be done unless the Lord had united the Human Essence to the Divine Essence. And unless He had united them neither men in the world, nor indeed any spiritual angel in heaven, would any longer have possessed any ability to understand or to perceive that which is good or true. Nor thus would they have possessed any blessedness and happiness at all, nor consequently any salvation at all. From this it becomes clear that the human race could not have been saved unless the Lord had assumed the Human and glorified it.” Arcana Celestia n.2776

Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled.

This Study Guide was used at the Glendale New Church
March 26, 2006
The quotes are from Emanuel Swedenborg’s books
They can be reviewed at
And more can be found at