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Why Did Jesus Pray for the Cup to Pass from Him?

We are continuing to meditate on the cup Jesus had to drink in the Garden of Gethsemane. The cup Christ had to drink was more than going through humiliation at the hands of evil men and more than being crucified; it was to put on and be fully clothed in our sin as God’s sacrificial lamb.

We struggle to be holy when our natural tendency, our default nature, is toward sin. It was entirely different, though, for our Lord Jesus, for He had never known sin. He has always been Holy. He was born of a virgin by the Holy Spirit and not conceived in the usual way, and so did not have a sinful flesh nature. He remained free from sin all His life so that he would die as an innocent substitutionary Lamb for us and as us. The apostle Peter was around Him for more than three years, yet he said about Christ: “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth” (1 Peter 2:22). As a Holy being, Christ's struggle that day in the garden was to put on sin and be the living embodiment of sin. His striving was not against sin but to be clothed in sin when every fiber of His Holy being cried out against sin. “Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, And You cannot look on wickedness with favor” (Habakkuk 1:13). His default nature, every impulse of His divine being, was repulsed by sin, and yet He had to put on sin to make us holy. How wonderful is His love! “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). The temptation He faced was to abandon His holiness and embrace sin, all sin, of all time, and for the whole human race.

Perhaps one would say that Jesus wasn’t tempted for He was holy, but in fact, He was tempted much worse than us so that He might be able to feel what we feel when tempted: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet he did not sin” (Hebrews 4:15).

What was distinctly different was that Christ would be separated from His Father for a time. When Christ hung on the cross, the sins of the world were laid upon Him, and the Father, who cannot look upon sin, left Christ for a time. Sins of the blackest sort would stain the perfect character of Christ; every sin that you and I have ever committed were laid on Him. Not only sins committed in the present but also those of the past and future. That is why He cried out from the cross; “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). Those who believe there are many ways to God cannot answer why the Father refused to take any other option other than His Son must drink the dregs of the cup. There was no other way. If there were another way, God would have taken it rather than to ask His Son to suffer for the sins of man.

There was a spiritual battle going on in the unseen realm against Jesus. If we could have seen into the spiritual realm in the Garden of Gethsemane, perhaps we would have seen the forces of powerful evil demonic beings seeking to dissuade Christ from obedience to the Father's will. Jesus had a choice to make; would He lay down His own will to accomplish the Father's will? God invites us all to lay down our will and walk the way of the cross with Jesus. Some say that Satan was trying to stop Christ from going to the cross, while others say that the fight in the garden was to try to get Jesus to say no to the Father's will. Satan didn't understand what would be accomplished by Christ being crucified; otherwise, He would have stopped his minions from bringing it about. Paul the apostle wrote about this thought, saying, “None of the rulers of this age understood it. For if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Corinthians 2:8). Keith Thomas

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Taken from Luke 22:39-53, study 60, Jesus in Gethsemane


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