And He came out and proceeded as was His custom to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples also followed Him. When He arrived at the place, He said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground. When He rose from prayer, He came to the disciples and found them sleeping from sorrow, and said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”Luke 22:39-46
Let me remind you of a question I asked at the beginning of this pericope.
What did Jesus mean by His request, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me”?
There are two Greek words for the idea “to be willing”. One, [thelo] expresses the idea “to wish” or “want” or “desire” for something to happen. Matthew and Mark use this word. It is interesting that Luke used the other word in his account [boulomai], the idea being “to plan” or “to counsel”. The idea here is “if it be according to your plan Father”. “If that is what you plan”, “if that is Your intention” then so be it. Let it be according to Your plan, Your will, Your way. God’s intention has long been made known. It has been revealed in the prophets from long ago. Jesus has made it plain to the disciples that He is going to Jerusalem to suffer and die and then raised again. That is all according to the Scripture which have foretold the story long before it would soon reach its fulfillment. But as Jesus is imminently facing the moment of His Passion, His crucifixion, He is asking if there is another way. “Let there be some other way to remove this cup from Me.”
What cup is being referred to here? The word is [poterion] which refers to a drinking cup. That might lead us to think that it has something to do with the cup they have just shared in the upper room when they shard the wine of the New Convenant together. Or the wine of the various cups shared during the Passover meal (see Bible Gem 1195 – The Passover meal – a whole lot of drinking going on (Luke 22:14-23)).
The “cup” also used in a figurative way to mean your destiny, good or bad. It can also refer to the “cup of suffering” and even more specifically the “cup of God’s wrath”. Jesus’ use of the word cup contains all these meanings. It is indeed His destiny and in this case it is bad – for Him, but good for us. It is also the Cup of Suffering that was used metaphorically through the Old Testament. It is a reference to the bitter ordeal that is coming upon Him. It is referring to His torture and death on the cross, the cruelest death the Roman could come up with, reserved strictly for criminals and enemies of the Empire. In addition to that it includes the spiritual implications of the cross event. His abandonment by God the Father while He bears the sin of all mankind and takes it to the cross to bring about the removal of sin for those who receive Him. Those who accept what He has done for them on the cross and likewise accept His righteousness in return – a huge transaction. Read about that in Bible Gem 546 – A Beautiful Exchange (2 Cor 5:21).
The Cup of God’s Wrath is also taken upon Him and is the reason for God’s abandonment of Him on the cross as He bears the sin of mankind in His flesh on the cross. I believe Jesus is not so much shrinking back from physical death at this time – even though the physical death He was about to die was indeed horrific. It is the spiritual separation from God the Father that is the worst torment of all, along with knowing that He will bear the sin of the world upon Him. He is to be the Lamb of God and the scapegoat all at once. The One Who will be sacrificed for our sins and He will be the scapegoat on which was symbolically placed the sins of people and then it was taken outside the camp to remove sin from the Children of God.
It is all a rather heavy burden to bear. Little wonder that Jesus asks if there is another way to accomplish this. Nevertheless, not my will [thelema – from thelo above] but Yours be done Father. Not what I desire Father, but what You desire. May it be according to Your plan and what You intend rather than what I want. I will submit to Your will (and therefore Your plan) Father. The “nevertheless” πλήν [plēn] is an adversative particle which expresses the idea – don’t do what I want; do what You will or plan Father. The verb “be done” is in the present continuous imperative tense which carries the idea of enduring, on-going action. This does not refer to a single action of His impending death, but rather the whole course of action intended by God which I have described in part above. I will deal with it in more detail when we get to the actual event itself rather that the prediction of it.
In the next Gem we will look at the matter of “the fervent prayer” and “the sweat like blood”.
- Did Jesus sweat blood or was His sweat just like blood?
- And what does that mean? What is the quality of blood that is in focus here?
- It seems Jesus prayed and then He prayed fervently. Are there different levels of prayer?
If you look carefully at the text of your Bible you will see something else we need to address. I will leave you to find it first and then I will comment on it in the next Gem.
That’s enough for now.
People who don’t understand your pain will not understand your perspective.Anon
Your greatest value in life is your value to God.A R Bernard
The will of God is not something you add to your life. It’s a course you choose. You either line yourself up with the Son of God…or you capitulate to the principle which governs the rest of the world.Elisabeth Elliot
Doing the will of God leaves me no time for disputing about His plans.George MacDonald
In Gethsemane the holiest of all petitioners prayed three times that a certain cup might pass from Him. It did not.Anon