Is Jesus A way? or THE way?
“saying, 'Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.' And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:42-44).
Is Jesus the only way? Or is Jesus a way among many alternatives? If paths to the Father exist other than the cross, then Jesus' anguish in Gethsemane doesn't make sense. Jesus entirely life and purpose has been about His mission, and yet now at the time of its consummation it would seem to appear that He is having second thoughts about completing it. For Jesus knows the true cost of what it will take to pay the penalty for the sin of man and to achieve justice, satisfying the wrath of God.
Thus it is not surprising to see “the perfect humanity and true deity of Jesus shrinking from the horror of separation from his Father as he bears in his body the sins of the world” which “anticipates the cry of forsakeness on the cross” (Howell, 325). This one prayer time in Gethsemane would have been sufficient to fulfill all the prophecies of the suffering servant or “man of sorrows” from Isaiah. Here we see Jesus petitioning His Father (Mark 14:36 even uses the more intimate term 'Abba') “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me” (Matthew 28:39) while still affirming God's will. The cup metaphorically represents judgment throughout the Old and New Testament, but here takes on added meaning from the Last Supper which Jesus shared with His disciples where “the disciples drink the cup to participate in the benefits of Jesus' death; but Jesus drinks the cup to commit himself to that coming death” (Nolland, 1099). The Gospel of Luke reveals that a messenger from heaven appeared as “...the provision of a divine answer to prayer” to strengthen Christ, so “...that Jesus is enabled to pray more earnestly (Marshall, 832),1 and yet He still repeats the petition a second (Matthew 26:42) and a third time (26:44) praying “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” Jesus experienced such emotional stress in these prayers, in mere anticipation to the cross, that “his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground” and yet the Father did not remove the cup. In light of this horrific experience in the garden, the excruciating death inflicted upon Christ by the cross, and the devastating abandonment by God to pay for sin, if another way were possible, then this God people desire to join via another path is truly guilty of the skeptics insult of “divine child-abuse.” Such a God would be the devil, or worse, for having such an unnecessary torture of His own son be His will. Instead, as the author of the book of Hebrews comments on Gethsemane, he shows how Jesus and His suffering on the cross is the only way, so much so that even though God, who “was able to save Him from death,” willed that His son “learn obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he [Jesus] became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him” (Hebrews 5:7-9). Jesus knew that His mission to be the sacrifice for the sins of the world on the cross was the only way, and that is why Jesus, out of His love for every human soul on this planet, willingly completed His mission as recorded in the gospel of John “Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” (John 8:11).
Brett Yardley: Warrior for Christ. Devoted Husband. Proud Father. Martial Artist. Hopeful Philosopher & Theologian. Aspiring Teacher & Writer.