Mark 14:36, Take This Cup

“Abba, Father,” [Jesus] said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

//Most of us are familiar with Jesus’ prayer of agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus is overwhelmed by the need to die in horrible fashion, and asks God if he can “remove the cup.”

This weakness drew mockery from Celsus, a pagan critic of the second century: “Why does [Jesus] howl, lament, and pray to escape the fear of destruction?” It’s a good question. Doesn’t it seem a bit sissy-like to whine about it ahead of time?

This seemed to bother Luke as well, who stripped away all traces of weakness in his telling. Jesus shows no agitation or distress at Gethsemane, and says nothing about being “deeply grieved” (Mark’s words).

John’s Gospel goes a step further, and ignores the entire event. Not only does the final Gospel cut the Gethsemane scene, it reports that Jesus never made any such request of God:

“Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.” – John 12:27

Yet, regardless of how the tale is told, I suspect the agony of knowing about such a fate ahead of time would be far greater than any of the gospels admit.

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