For her birthday present, the Templetons took Tanzen out horseback riding. Now she wants to buy one.
Friend: If Jesus knew he would rise from the dead, wasn’t he being over dramatic, or lacking in faith when he asked the Father to take the cup away?
Me: That is a tough question! Let me think about that…
Text where it stems from: Matthew 26:36ff
This question deals with one of the more perplexing issues found in Scripture and the answer is determined by how we understand Christ, or in theological studies, Christology. When understanding Jesus’ cry in the garden (or any of his other human characteristics such as his hunger, tiredness, limited knowledge of the Father’s timing, and ultimately his death) we have to take into account what we read in Philippians 2:4-11:
“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
In these verses we see that Jesus was just like us because he became a human being, or “emptied himself, by taking on the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” This did not eliminate or mix with his divine nature (“the form of God”). Being the second person of the Triune God he could not give up his divine nature just like God the Father could not give up being the Father, or the Spirit the Spirit. Nor could Jesus separate himself from his divine attributes such as his omnipotence, or omniscience, and still continue to be God. However, because Jesus took on the human nature in addition to his divinity, voluntarily limiting himself to that which corresponded with his humanity, he could accomplish the loving rescue plan which the Father had given to him, which involved his own death. He could be tired and thirsty. He could be lonely. He had humbly become a man and set aside the independent control of his divine attributes which were rightfully his.
With this understanding of Jesus’ divine nature and his human nature, we now consider him in the Garden. Here he knelt, weeping. If he knew he would rise again, why the drama? As a human being, he had lived perfectly. His entire earthly life had been one of unhindered communion with God the Father. He never had any sin to disrupt their communion, nor had he ever experienced the correction of God for pursuing his own sinful desire. But this was about to change. Soon he would be hung on a tree and made to be a curse. He would bear the wrath of God for sins he had never committed. He would drink the cup of God’s justice down to the dregs. He would be cut off from the Father for the first time in his life (see Isaiah 53, Romans 8:3; Galatians 3:13; Romans 4:25).
At this point, we have to remember that we are speaking of the human nature of Jesus the Messiah. We are not speaking of his divine nature, which could not be cut off from the Father and the Spirit. The Triune God could not abandon one of the persons, but the man Christ Jesus could take our sins and carry them to his grave. There he, flesh and blood, would lie dead.
This is why he wept. This is why he was in agony. He was about to give up his life and his perfect acceptance and communion with the Father on behalf of sinners like you and I.
So from this perspective, the struggle in the garden which Jesus faced is not an evidence for a lack of faith, but rather a demonstration of his faithfulness in the midst of the most horrific fate possible, to feel the full wrath of God upon him.
This is a very brief look at a very complex issue. I highly recommend reading this book for a greater treatment!
Book: Ware, B. The Man Christ Jesus: Theological Reflections on the Humanity of Christ. Crossway, 2012.
Point: Jesus Christ, the second person of the triune God, emptied himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. This truth has a profound impact on how I view his life, my life, and the coming life.
Path: Ware walks through the key passages speaking of Jesus’ birth, life, death, resurrection, and future reign with an eye toward how Scripture presents his humanity. He answers common questions and critiques oversimplifications and quick responses which we are prone to make.
Sources: Based on exegetical studies of pertinent texts and also historical theology, the author helps the student or the layman to find a better foothold when considering the profound ramifications of Christ’s humanity.
Agreement: I found this to be a great encouragement both theologically and devotionally. Ware helped me to shore up different areas of my Christology and point out the errors of my sometimes sloppy explanations of our Savior’s life and ministry.
While there were a couple places where I was disappointed in how he ended a discussion but I was encouraged throughout the entire book.
Personal App: Jesus Christ, the God-Man, obeyed God perfectly through his dependence upon the Holy Spirit. This same Spirit he has promised to his followers. Therefore I have been provided all that is necessary for my faith and godliness in his Word and his Spirit.
“Second, given the fact that this was the greatest act of obedience he rendered, requiring the deepest commitment of faith and hope in his Father, in light of the severest of all suffering he was about to encounter on the cross, does it not stand to reason, then, that the Father had prepared Jesus for this moment? Can we not now see that all the previous tests of his faith, the divine demands that he followed and the sufferings that he experienced, were preparatory and strengthening for his obeying the Father in the garden?”
Stars: 5 out of 5
Top Shelf book
It would be worth another read and I would recommend it to someone who:
– Is seeking to understand better our Savior Jesus Christ
– Someone willing to think through the complexity of Jesus the Messiah.
Other books along this theme would be:
Scott, J. The Incomparable Christ
Piper, J. Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ
Athanasius. On the Incarnation of the Word of God
On Saturday mornings a group of us gets together for reading, discussion, and/or hiking. This past week we went for a walk in the rain to a nearby village. We had great discussions and so-so coffee…
There is a phrase some Spanish children hear all the time in school, “¿Estás en Babia?” It is our equivalent of, “Are you daydreaming?”
“To be in Babia” became an easy way to describe someone who was someplace else mentally. The phrase goes back to the kings and queens of Spain when they would leave their castles and political responsibilities and head for the mountains. They would disconnect in the silence of nature. Babia is a comarca (larger than our counties, but smaller than our states) in the northern mountains of Spain, about an hour and a half north of us.
We visited for a few days, wanting to escape and “estar en Babia.”
I had worked for many years with rickety logic: religious busyness is the same thing as spiritual maturity. The more you do, the more you love Jesus. I’d never have put it this tactlessly. But it was the air I breathed, the water I drank. It was an undisclosed and unexamined conviction that drove and colored everything I did. But I started to notice that religious busyness tends to make those of us caught up in it not deeper, wiser, kinder, but more shrill, more opinionated, more judgmental.
One of the many interesting thoughts from Wilde, Oscar. The Picture of Dorian Gray
“You are a sceptic.” “Never! Scepticism is the beginning of faith.”
I greatly appreciated my first time reading through this book. There are many things to disagree with, but his presentation of guilt is not one of them. This is a powerful story of the death of the soul in the secret life.
From Reynolds, Rebecca K. Courage, Dear Heart: Letters to a Weary World
God never meant for the Christian life to be one bright day of salvation followed by four decades of pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps, trying harder to be better.
A couple of months ago, a non-believing friend told me that he loves Greek mythology more than Old Testament stories because Greek gods and goddesses have human personality traits that make them relatable. Zeus is stormy. Hera is manipulative and difficult. Athena plays favorites. “Holiness is too strange,” he said. “I don’t understand it. I don’t want to be close to a shapeless fire on a mountain.” In this moment, I realized the relational importance of the incarnated Christ because in Jesus, we see a compression of divine emotional complexity. In him, we find a fiery Lord who turns over tables in a temple, a tender Lord who weeps with the weeping, a gentle Lord who welcomes little children, a weary Lord who sleeps, and an introverted Lord who needs time alone. We also find a Lord who sometimes wants to quit and go home. “Let this cup pass from me,” he prayed—wishing for a way out that would not come. Here, Jesus gives us a beautiful example of authentic prayer—showing us that we don’t have to go skipping and grinning into every loss we face. We can cry out. We can weep. We can be honest with the Father about all of our feelings before we come at last to “Not my will, but thine.” It’s okay for that process to be a monumental battle for us because it was a monumental battle for Jesus. You have a High Priest who is able to empathize. You can talk to him straight.
Last month we were able to visit Montserrat, in northern Spain. The sites were impressive…and so was the tram ride to the top!