The anguish of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane is one of the most moving scenes about which to read in the sacred text! When He took His three close friends (Peter, James and John) with Him into the Garden, “He began to be troubled and deeply distressed” (Mark 14:33). He told His friends, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death” (14:34). Try to imagine (it’s hard, but try to get close) what Jesus was enduring.
Jesus went “a little further” from His friends and “fell to the ground” (Mark 14:35), “knelt down” (Luke 22:41) and eventually “fell on His face and prayed” (Matt. 26:39). Why fall on His face? Jesus prayed, “Let this cup pass from Me” (Matt. 26:39), using an imperative that means “to go forth away, to pass by without touching.” Mark and Luke record part of the prayer with Jesus using another imperative, “Take this away, carry this away, remove it.” Jesus’ anguish is building and will get worse (Luke 22:44). What is “this cup”?
Not long before this time (perhaps even days), Jesus had talked with James and John about “the cup that I am about to drink” (Matt. 20:22), now He is praying in the Garden about “this cup,” and mere moments later He will say to Peter, “Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?” (John 18:10-11). Jesus is getting ready to fully experience something (He is going to “drink” it), which is causing Him intense agony in the Garden, as He considers it.
Mark helps to identify “this cup.” After Mark tells us that Jesus “fell on the ground,” he shows us that Jesus “prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him” (14:35). The hour? Reading through the book of John, one is repeatedly told that Jesus’ “hour had not yet come” (2:4; 7:30; 8:20). But when Jesus prays before leaving the upper room, He says, “Father, the hour has come” (John 17:1). And after praying fervently in the Garden, He told His friends, “Behold, the hour is at hand” (Matt. 26:45).
The words “cup” and “hour” are used interchangeably to encompass all that Jesus was going to experience (and endure) in the closing moments of His life—not only the mental and physical agony of the cross, but the spiritual agony of bearing the sin of the world and suffering the separation from His Father that comes from sin. That thought deeply troubled our Lord (in His human emotions), but His love for you and me and His desire to fulfill Jehovah’s eternal will triumphed on that day. He arose from prayer and said, “Let us be going” (Mark 14:42). He had a mission to fulfill and a people to save.
Our Friend “has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God” (Eph. 5:2). He drank the cup!