Jesus in Gethsemane
“Going a little farther, [Jesus] fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, ‘Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will’ ” (vv. 35–36).- Mark 14:32–36
Obedience to God’s revealed will is not optional for human beings. His commands are not suggestions that we can take or leave as we see fit. Many biblical texts indicate this truth, promising blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience (for example, Deut. 28). However, nothing shows the incalculable consequences of following God’s will better than the contrast between the obedience of the first Adam and the obedience of the last Adam.
The very first rejection of the Lord’s revealed will occurred in a garden, in Eden, when Adam broke God’s law and ate the forbidden fruit. Consequently, humanity was enslaved to sin and death (Gen. 3). Millennia later, the last Adam had to make a choice in a garden to obey God, the consequences of which would be the salvation of His people. We read of His struggle to make this choice in Mark 14:32–36.
Note our use of the word struggle. Jesus’ submission to the will of His Father was no stoic resignation to fate; rather, our Savior wrestled with the choice before Him. He begged for the cup to pass from Him, and He was so distressed emotionally that He sweated blood (14:35–36; see Luke 22:39–46). Such facts show us that the trial Jesus faced was not merely physical in nature, as horrible as that aspect was. Many others throughout history have faced a horrible physical end with more composure, but Jesus was in turmoil because He was going to death as the Sin-Bearer, as the Lamb of God who would bear divine wrath to atone for the sin of His people. We can scarcely imagine the horror of this prospect. The God-man, pure and unstained by any sin of His own, was going to become sin so that in Him His people would become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21). The Savior was going to suffer the full weight of all the sins of His people. He was going to experience the separation from God’s blessing that impenitent sinners endure in hell. Little wonder, then, that He asked for another way to bring about the salvation of His people.
Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane manifests His true human nature. According to His divine nature, the Son of God knew that the cross was the only way to save His people. But according to His human nature, He asked if there could be another way, if our salvation could be purchased without such a high cost. But in this, Jesus did not sin, for He was committed to following God’s revealed will even if it would cost Him His very life (Mark 14:35–36).
John Calvin comments on today’s passage, “Christ, amidst fear and sadness, was weak without any taint of sin.” Jesus asked for another way to save us, but He did not ask out of obstinate disobedience and a refusal to submit to the Lord. He was willing to obey the Father no matter what it would take. Let us pray that God would grant us the very same willingness.
Passages for Further Study