I got a follow up question about Jesus’ prayer at Gethsemane: in short, Peter rebuked Jesus for intending to go to the cross, but isn’t Jesus desiring the same thing in His prayer in which He asks God to “let this cup pass?”
That Jesus was both fully man and fully divine answers this question. In distinction to Peter, who said that Jesus’ intention to suffer and die at the hand of others should never happen even rebuking Jesus in the process (Mt. 16:22), Jesus’ prayer for having the cup passed from Him is conditional (if – then) on God’s will, not his own (Mt. 26:39). The Markan account is stronger, however, with Jesus asserting that all things are possible for God, then Jesus gives a command (or strong request) to remove the cup from Him. Nevertheless, even in the Markan account, Jesus’ command/request depends on God’s will agreeing with Jesus (Mk. 14:36; Lk. 22:42), not an elevation of Jesus’ will over the Father’s will. Peter, rebuking Jesus, (Mt. 16:22; Mk. 8:33) asserts that Jesus should not suffer and die; Jesus asks the Father, “if it is possible,” to have the cup pass from Him, “nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” Peter’s assertion smacks of arrogance, Jesus’ petition of humility and manifest submission, no matter which Gospel account (Matthew, Mark, Luke) we look to. Remember, as the early church debated and later resolved in the 6th ecumenical council, monothelitism (that Jesus only had one will) is a heresy. Jesus’ nature is one with the Father and Spirit, and so His divine will is one with Their will; but Jesus was fully human, which means He had a human will as well. Thus the orthodox position is duothelitism, that Jesus had two wills, a divine one and a human one. Once we apprehend this, we are able to see the mystery of both functions in Jesus’ prayer at Gethsemane although the human will is certainly dominate. Jesus doesn’t want pain; as a human, who of us can blame Him. In Christianity, martyrdom is not to be sought because God is the author of life, but rather it is to be accepted if it is God’s will in our lives (Mt. 22:32). Thus, we want to do God’s will whether in life or death (Phil. 1:20 – 21); we do not want to override God’s will by dictating to Him that I must be a martyr. Certainly, great honor is accredited to us if we suffer according to God’s will (1 Peter 3:17), but we get nothing but sin and reenforce our pride if we seek martyrdom for the honor itself: “Even if I give my bodied to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing” (1 Cor. 13:3) Whether we come or go, whether we live or die, whether we offend or console, the Christian’s declaration should be, “Let your will be done, on earth as in heaven.”
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