“A Little Farther”
By Ralph Damon
In Matthew 26:36 we read the following portion of that passage of scripture. Although it is brief, what these few words convey are immeasurable.
“And he went a little farther, and fell on his face…”
In these very few words is an intimate glimpse into the loving heart of our Savior. In the night of His betrayal and arrest, He went into the Garden of Gethsemane in company with His own disciples. His heart craved the fellowship and companionship, in that trying hour, of those who were so intimately associated with Him. Judas had already withdrawn from the company. A feeling of sadness must have come over that small group of disciples as Judas slipped out into the dark shadows of the night and joined hands with the enemies of Jesus.
After the initiation of the Communion with these twelve brothers, after the Passover meal, and following the withdrawal of Judas, the remaining eleven sang a hymn together and the march toward Gethsemane began. To eight of the disciples, the word of our Lord was, “Sit ye here, while I go yonder and pray.” The three who comprised His inner circle of leadership pressed on with Him farther into the Garden. To these three the word given was, “…tarry ye here and watch with me.”
Now notice the significance of the expression, “HE WENT A LITTLE FARTHER.” In mental and spiritual agony, He fell prostrate on the ground to pray, “…not my will, but thine be done.” Thus He spoke to His Heavenly Father. So how far is “a little farther” we wonder? Luke tells us that it was about “…a stone’s cast.” The words are indicative of the distance that separated Him from the three apostles. They are also suggestive of the greater distance which Jesus traveled ALONE as He carried our sins to the cross.
When Jesus went through that Gethsemane experience and was finally crucified on Calvary’s cross, He went farther than any other person could possibly go in order to bring redemption to fallen mankind. He went farther than the law in place at that time could ever go. Its ministry was one of condemnation. Jesus went farther than any of the prophets had gone. Their ministry, though so very important, was one of calling upon the people to repent of their sins and warning of the judgments that could, and would, come from God.
In going to the cross to die for the sins for the world, Jesus did what was utterly impossible for any other person to do. He went a little farther – in poverty, self-denial, sacrifice, love and sorrow – but in the purest form of love that could ever hope to be expressed. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).
Having considered the distance that Jesus went in bringing us to eternal redemption, let us consider how these words may be applied to ourselves.
We should go a little farther than Satan would have us go. He would have us compromise. He would not have us go all the way that Jesus bids us go. Satan’s suggestion is that we may be religious, but we must guard against going too far. Are we listening to the voice of God, or to the voice of Satan? Someone has well said: “We must crown Jesus Lord of all, or else we do not crown Him Lord at all.”
We must go a little farther unto perfection. The perfection for which we strive is not toward human perfection but toward Saintly perfection. Saintly perfection is the result of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. “…let us go on unto perfection…” (Hebrews 6:1).
We should go a little farther in our prayer life. Prayer is the heart-beat of the Saint. We do well to ponder and emulate the Master’s example of finding quiet and secluded times to be alone with our Father in all of our prayers.
We should go a little farther in our love for God. Our love for Him will find expression in loving testimony – everyday living. It may seem a bit trite to many, but to a mother, father, or grandparent, this example clutches the heart: A little girl came running and jumping into her mother’s lap. She threw her arms about her mother’s neck and kissed again and again. The mother, a bit surprised, said what many of us might say to this sudden display of affection, “Mary, what do you want now?” Mary quickly and tenderly replied, “Momma, I don’t want anything, I just want to love you.” Our Heavenly Father would be pleased to have His children come to Him often, not to seek some favor, but to sit in His presence and love Him. And then to go out daily, in honor, to serve Him. “And he went a little farther…” Will you? Shall I?