The Cup in Gethsemane: 2

 •  11 min. read  •  grade level: 8
THUS much as to His human side; now for the higher, if we may differentiate as to that which was inherent to Him, whatever the form and conditions He might assume or fill. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” “All things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made.” “And the Word was made flesh” (John 1). “Who is the firstborn of all creation” (Col. 1). “Before Abraham was I am” (John 8). “Upholding all things by the word of his power (Heb. 1:33Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; (Hebrews 1:3)). “He is before all things and by him all things consist” (Col. 1:15-1715Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. (Colossians 1:15‑17)). “Unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever” &c. (Heb. 1:1010And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: (Hebrews 1:10)).
Impossible to read these and how many more l without finding ourselves consciously, willingly or unwillingly, in the presence of supreme majesty, of Godhead truly. Subordinate Godhead is an absurdity, it cannot be, neither does God give His glory to another. Here is no inferior God; no mere outcome of creatorial power, place him ever so high or where you will. The Jehovah of the Old Testament is here, the God of Israel, of the Red Sea, and of Jordan; Whom winds and waves obey. In likeness of flesh of sin He was. And as the weary one He sat at Sychar and asked a drink of water; yet was He ever the omnipotent and the omniscient (Who none the less received all from His Father Whom He came to serve), mighty to save from sin, death, and judgment.
Fear of death with Him! fear of failure in His life-work with Him! The whole theory in its inception and elaboration is from beneath, and only finds its endorsement in the natural mind. Its foundation is sand. It is an insult to the Christ they profess to honor, as it is a reflection on, yea, denial of, His person and ways. What can one think of those who can so misconstrue His words, so consistent and becoming the Son the Father at such a time and under circumstances and surroundings unparalleled except at the cross itself?
There is a further element, which can no more be overlooked than those we have been discussing: there, are His own prophetic words, so impressively given to His apostles as recorded by Matt. 16:21, 22, 2321From that time forth began Jesus to show unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. 22Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. 23But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savorest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. (Matthew 16:21‑23), by Mark 8:31; 10:33, 3431And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. (Mark 8:31)
33Saying, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes; and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles: 34And they shall mock him, and shall scourge him, and shall spit upon him, and shall kill him: and the third day he shall rise again. (Mark 10:33‑34)
, by Luke 31, 33, which I beg the reader to read. And again as to His life, “I lay it down of myself” &c., (John 10:1717Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. (John 10:17)). “So must the Son of Man be lifted up” (John 3). Can scripture be broken? Had He forgotten or did He not know of Psa. 22, Isa. 53., where perhaps more than any where else, we have the whole tragic scene of His death depicted? Then again is His own pre-utterance in Psa. 16:8-108I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. 9Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. 10For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. (Psalm 16:8‑10). How can it be supposed that He the One of faith beyond all others, its author and finisher (Heb. 11; 12), could so fail in His faith, and not in faith alone, but in His conception of the probabilities or possibilities of the case? Not so! In all things His is the pre-eminence. That there was in His view and vividly before His all prescient mind that which made Him “exceeding sorrowful unto death” (Matt. 26:3838Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. (Matthew 26:38); Mark 14:3434And saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch. (Mark 14:34)), we know; and that “being in an agony.... his sweat was as it were great drops of blood” (Luke 22:4444And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. (Luke 22:44)) we know; and that there appeared “an angel from heaven unto him strengthening him” (ver. 43), we know too. And as we read the record, we bow and challenge ourselves not to draw near with levity, not to venture presumptuously our own thoughts, or speculate on a theme so holy, so profound as the “baptism” He was then about to “be baptized with” (Matt. 20:2222But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able. (Matthew 20:22)); for not for this surely were words so impressive handed down to us.
There are other statements equally questionable in the article we are reviewing, which, for fear of trespassing unduly on your limited space, I pass; not without hope that you, Mr. Editor, with your so much abler pen, may find it not incompatible with your other onerous occupations to take up and examine much more exhaustively and effectively than I in the least degree can aspire to.
Having endeavored in my remarks to show, what the “cup” in Gethsemane was not, I now proceed to show what that cup was. One desires to feel the holiness of the ground we are about to tread further: its sacred, solemn character, profound beyond thought of man or angel, where as nowhere else in our own sphere, should he “the sacred awe that dares not move.”
But preparatory to this I give a further extract from the paper before me. It is the Editor's opening statement and implied endorsement of Dr. S.'s view.
“When Jesus stood by the grave of Lazarus and lifted up His eyes to heaven, Father, He said, ‘I know that Thou hearest me always.' But if in the garden He prayed He might escape the death upon the cross, then He was not always heard; this was one prayer—and a most agonizing one—that the Father refused to answer. For it will not do to say that His prayer was answered in the angel who came from heaven to strengthen Him. That was not His prayer, and it is to escape the dilemma by falling into another. For if Jesus prayed for one thing and the Father granted another, then our Lord knew not any more than we, what He should pray for as He ought.”
The Lord not heard! the Father refused to answer unless in the sense they claim, and pointed to as (they say) in Heb. 5:7. Turning to the Psalms, we see, on the contrary, that whilst Heb. 5:7 says He “was heard for his godly fear” (Revised Version), Psa. 22:19-2219But be not thou far from me, O Lord: O my strength, haste thee to help me. 20Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog. 21Save me from the lion's mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns. 22I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee. (Psalm 22:19‑22) not only confirms this, but leaves us in no doubt as to what was the purport of the prayer referred to in Hebrews, that it was deliverance out of, not immunity from, death, there or any where. And was He not most signally answered? and declared Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness by resurrection from the dead (Rom. 1:44And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: (Romans 1:4))? See also Acts 3:1515And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses. (Acts 3:15) Cor. 15:15; 1 Peter 1:2121Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. (1 Peter 1:21). God “raised him from the dead and set him at His own right hand in the heavenlies, far above all principality and power and might and dominion and every name that is named not only in this world but also in that which is to come” (Eph. 1:20, 2120Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, 21Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: (Ephesians 1:20‑21)). Answer this, surely! The cry in the garden, then, had no such reference as they say it had. The “cup” there, was not another cup, nor did the cry there in my judgment. synchronize at all with Heb. 5.
It had in it another ingredient, one far more fearful than “fear of death and failure through death then and there;” an ingredient, a factor, from which there could be no discharge if “atonement” were to be made: hence therefore the qualifying “if it be possible” and the “nevertheless.” What that was we are not left far to seek for. We read 2 Cor. 5:2121For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (2 Corinthians 5:21); 1 Peter 2:2424Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. (1 Peter 2:24), and we get our answer truly as to one part of it— “made sin.” We read Matt. 27:4646And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? (Matthew 27:46); Mark 15:3434And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? (Mark 15:34), and we again get our answer in its second part— “forsaken of God”! Let us pause, let us afresh consider of Whom it is these scriptures so speak. The Only-begotten, ever in the Father's bosom, the Son of His love and His delight. Alike in His own love to and delight in the Father as was the Father to Him. The Son too, Whose scepter is a scepter of righteousness, Who loved righteousness and hated iniquity. The Holy One, the Holy One of God, even that not relatively only, but absolutely, essentially, intrinsically, the expression of it without measure, without alloy in His person and in every step and stage of His wondrous path here, in Whom could be no tolerance or excuse or mitigation of sin, but absolute abhorrence of, and anger against sin in its every beginning, development, and ending. Whose eyes to detect it were as a flame of fire, in Whose hand to resent it was a sharp two-edged sword, Whose voice to condemn it is as the voice of thunder, and the sound of many waters; and His countenance as the sun shineth in his strength, flashing forth indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, against every soul of man that doeth evil—every evil work or thought. Here in grace to save though! wondrous combination truly! The apostle writes, “Consider him who endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself.”
But here in our present view, we are to behold Him— “made sin” brought into vital contact and affinity, if we may so say, with that which He as the “Holy One” so hated—so contrary and repulsive to Him, beyond the holiest of men or angels, as well it might be surely; not as touching Him only, but as that which touched specially His God and Father in His prerogatives, His honor, His sovereignty, His word; the great blight on the creature and the creation, the foul and poisonous breath of Satan, and his kindred host of demons and of men, his only too willing accessories and tools. And mark, not “made sin” only, not “bearing our sins in His own body on the tree” only; but as the necessary, inevitable—and to Him appalling result, Himself the “forsaken” one of “His God.” “O my God, I cry in the day-time, but thou answerest not; and in the night-season, and am not silent.” “Our fathers trusted in thee and thou didst deliver them But I am a worm”
(Psa. 22). He had said, “I knew that thou hearest me always “; but now, it is, “Thou hearest me not.” “Why art Thou so far from helping me”? Speak not of death as His “fear” here, true He died, had to die, for that was a necessity in atonement. But “made sin,” “forsaken of His God,” that—the two combined—the latter, the necessary, the irrevocable, the stern sequence of the former. “Let this cup pass from Me if possible”! And is not this divine perfection in its purest form, the “perfection of holiness and of love, a love which might well shrink from a forsaking such as this? Not to have shrunk here, not to have recoiled here, would have been a failure indeed, the strangest failure and more fatal to His own character as “Son and Holy” than any other. And yet we are told by these writers that “this He was always ready to accept and did accept without flinching.” Do they really mean it?
It is important, too, to observe how carefully scripture excludes the thought that His death was the result of anything from without, the result of crucifixion—its accompaniment it was truly, but only. For we read that when they came to Him with intent to hasten or precipitate His death by breaking His legs, they found Him dead already, but not so the two malefactors (John 19:31-3331The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. 32Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. 33But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: (John 19:31‑33)); and so Pilate marveled if He were already dead (Mark 15:4444And Pilate marvelled if he were already dead: and calling unto him the centurion, he asked him whether he had been any while dead. (Mark 15:44)). No! His life He laid down of Himself as He had said (John 10:17, 1817Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. 18No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father. (John 10:17‑18)), and so with loud voice He cried, “It is finished: and he....gave up the ghost,” saying, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” (Matt. 27:5050Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. (Matthew 27:50); Mark 15:3737And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. (Mark 15:37); Luke 23:4646And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost. (Luke 23:46); John 19:3030When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. (John 19:30)). Thus, thanks be to His great name and holy, “He the Just one died for us, the unjust, that He might bring us to God—died that we might live” (2 Cor. 5)— “gave himself for our sins that he might deliver us from this present evil world” (Gal. 1); for “thus it is written and thus it behooved him,” as the Son and the Savior and the Shepherd. And so with John we exultingly cry, “Unto him that loveth us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and made us kings and priests unto God and His Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever.” Amen.
To say then that when the Lord Jesus cried in the garden, “If it be possible, let this cup pass from me,” He had before Him “death then and there": and that it was “fear” of this which induced or evoked the cry, is not to explain but to pervert His words. It is to lay upon Him a contingency only belonging to one fallen. It is to impute to Him forgetfulness of His own. and the Father's words, and all the scriptures which speak of His death (and this as only on the cross), and so far from “delivering the prayer there, from weakness and ignorance” (Himself pardon the words) as this writer claims, makes it all that and worse, for it places the Christ of God on the same plane as those, who through fear of death were all their life-time subject to bondage. This is not to honor. It debases Him, not exalts. G. R.