“41And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42saying, ‘Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me. Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours be done.’”
This is one of the most powerful moments in all of scripture. I would dare say that Jesus’s prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane rivals even the cross in the power of its testimony. All of scripture leads up to the cross, but the Garden of Gethsemane provides a very candid view of Christ as He prepares to go to His death. As He prays, we see both the humanity and the divinity of Christ on display; we see Him anxiously fearing for His life, and we see Him obediently submitting to the will of God even to His death. Here we will briefly analyze Christ’s prayer in the garden as He reveals both His humanity and his divinity to us.
1. Remove this cup from Me
a. He knew what was coming. Crucifixion is a very intense and humiliating for of public torture and execution. Its public spectacle was likely intended to strike fear into the people of and under the Roman Empire so they would be slow to consider committing any severe crime. All peoples living in the empire knew what crucifixion was and how gruesome and slow a form of death it could be. Jesus knew that He would soon face this form of death Himself.
b. Gives a very clear look at Jesus’s humanity. He was anxious and afraid. With all of His humanity, He desired for God to change His mind and not make Him go to the cross. The first part of His prayer is literally pleading with God: please, do not make me do this! Because Jesus knew the pain and torture He was soon to face, in His humanity, He feared the agony, the death, and the humiliation.
2. Nevertheless/Yet ESV: Nevertheless; NASB, HCSB: Yet
a. The crucial hinge in Christ’s prayer. Changes the direction of the prayer from a horizontal plea to not have to face the pain and agony of the cross to a vertical assent and acceptance of the Sovereignty of God and His perfect plan.
b. Notice that the prayer of Christ does not indicate that He will give his reverence to God while still holding onto his desires. The negative conjunction He uses implies that He is completely forsaking His own wants and submitting even His life to the will of God.
3. Not My will, but Yours be done
a. Shows the spirit of Christ’s divinity. Christ’s total obedience to the call of God even to His crucifixion displays for us His divinity. Without Christ’s spirit within us, we are entirely incapable of devoting ourselves so entirely to His will even to a brutal and humiliating death. Christ not only knew from the beginning that His crucifixion was in store for Him, but also submitted Himself completely of His own accord to the plan that God had set in place for Him.
b. Exemplifies giving everything to God.
i. To rephrase Christ’s prayer to be easily applicable for modern man, we would say, “All of the desires of my heart can go to Hell because God’s will is the only will that matters.”
ii. When we come to Christ, we are not opening the door for a heartsick savior who’s been begging us to let Him in. We are responding to the call of a mighty and powerful King who offers amnesty to us, the most heinous of criminals, on the single term that we submit our lives to His Lordship. Our sinful nature leaves us dead in our filth. The dead are incapable of raising themselves. However, God calls to our spirits to awaken and rise and live in Him.
c. Portrays complete trust in God’s judgment. Even though Christ knew fully what He was going to face in just a few hours, He give Himself to God’s will and trusted that what God had called Him to do was best. In our case, when we trust God and follow His lead whole-heartedly, we have scriptural assurance (Dt. 31:6, Jo. 1:9) that God will be with us and will never leave us on our own and will never turn His back on us. We can trust that His plan will ultimately be best for us, whether we see reward in this life or in Heaven.
My life is less valuable than the life of a lost man, because my eternity is secured. When I die, I will be in the presence of God experiencing His joy which will never leave me. However, when a lost man dies, there is nothing waiting for him but torture and darkness and pain forever. The lost man’s life is so much more valuable because it is all of the time he has to not be in pain.