The Cup of God’s Wrath – Luke 22:41-46

Luke 22:41-46 describes this time, and says that Jesus prayed that “this cup be taken from me.” This phrase might be interpreted to mean that Jesus would like to not have to go through the upcoming torture and death. It may, however, refer to the fact that the physical pain he was suffering was going to kill him too soon, before he could die on the cross.  The idea of Jesus praying for strength to continue parallels with Heb. 5:7-8, which says that he cried out to God to be saved from death and that he “learned obedience to the Father.”

A third possibility is to take “this cup” as an image of punishment, as it is in the Old Testament.  Rather than asking to get out of the torment of the cross, Jesus is looking forward to the time when the punishment for sin will be over and he will be restored to complete fellowship with the Father.  Craig Blaising notes that Jesus applied Isaiah 53:12 to himself before going to the garden, and suggests that Isaiah 51:19-22 may hold the key to interpreting the desire to have the cup removed.  In Isaiah, the cup of God’s wrath is taken away from the people after they have experienced it.  They received the punishment in full, but afterwards the cup is removed and they experience the blessings of the Lord in the Kingdom.  Rather than asking to avoid the crucifixion, Jesus is praying that after he “drinks from the cup of wrath,” he have that cup taken away so that he can enjoy fellowship again.

Blaising says:

The implication for Jesus’ prayer is this: As in this passage, where God will remove the cup of his wrath from his people after they have drunk it, so Jesus prays that the cup of God’s wrath for sin, which he drinks for all, will in the same way be removed from his hand by the Father after he has drunk it (335).

For me, it makes a great deal of sense to follow Blaising’s lead here and read the cup of God’s wrath in the sense found in Isaiah.  The fact that Jesus constantly refers to Isaiah 40-55 is evidence that this is what he has in mind in the garden. In addition, I worry about what it says about Jesus if he was praying to avoid the cross if at all possible.  The cross was not just a possibility, it was the whole reason for the incarnation.  Jesus would not consider avoiding the cross since he came to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).

Bibliography: Craig A. Blaising, “Gethsemane: A Prayer Of Faith” JETS 22 (1979):  333-343.

28 thoughts on “The Cup of God’s Wrath – Luke 22:41-46

  1. I can see how this makes sense but I would like to comment on what you said…”In addition, I worry about what it says about Jesus if he was praying to avoid the cross if at all possible.” I think we have to keep in mind that Jesus was also in human flesh and that he was feeling the same kind of pain that we would if we were in his situation. With this in mind he could be praying to God that if there is another way to use it but that he will be obedient to Gods will….thats just my thought.
    I can completely agree with what your saying though…and I was very excited to read this!!

    • I agree with where you are coming from. In the garden, when Jesus was praying to His Father, He did not want to go to the cross. “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me” (ESV). However, Jesus was still going to be obedient to His Father; wanted His Father’s plan to be carried out. After Christ prayed that prayer to His Father, it says in verse 43 that “there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him” (ESV). God honors His Son’s pray by giving Him strength to face this; the ability to carry and finish out His Father’s will.

  2. This topic seems to me to be another area of the gospels where someone along the way interpreted something completely incorrectly, and for some reason, that interpretation just stuck. These types of explanations make sense on the surface level, especially for young believers. When someone has just become a Christian, it is easy for them to accept the idea that “Jesus was so afraid of the cross, and the thought of it hurt Him so much that He prayed to God that He wouldn’t have to do it.” As an ill-informed person, it just makes Jesus look even more human and accessible to us.

    But for those with experience with doctrine, especially that of the incarnation and the person of Christ, this type of idea spurs many questions and more confusion than conclusion. Jesus knew that the cross was the pinnacle of His ministry and the hope of all humanity. He would not have asked God for it to be taken from Him, simply because He knew they’re would be no other way. This is why the explanation of the cup being God’s wrath and Jesus praying to be returned to his fellowship makes so much sense to me. Jesus was human, but he was still God. For some reason, we still have a hard time with that…

    • “the way interpreted something completely incorrectly, and for some reason, that interpretation just stuck”

      I might suggest that the reason it stuck is that it makes good preaching. If Jesus obeyed his heavenly father, then maybe you should too. Good preaching points tend to trump good theology, sadly.

  3. In my own opinion, it is both points of views. For one, Jesus is human. No human would ever want to endure the pain that they would go through on the cross. In verse 42 Jesus says, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me” (ESV). Jesus is asking His Father if there is any other way for besides going this pain, suffering, and death that is before Him, that it pass from Him.
    Second, since Jesus knew that He could not get out of the punishment. Take “this cup” as it was in the Old Testament, just makes sense. That Jesus is actually looking forward to when the punishment for sin will be over and He will be restored to complete fellowship with His Father. It also makes since why Jesus would apply 53:12 to Himself before going to the garden. “Because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors” (ESV). Along with that, Isaiah 51: 21-22, “Therefore hear this, you who are afflicted, who are drunk, but not with wine: Thus says your Lord, the LORD, your God who pleads the cause of his people:”Behold, I have taken from your hand the cup of staggering;the bowl of my wrath you shall drink no more” (ESV). After Jesus suffers and dies on the cross, the cup that he bore, will be taken from Him and suffer no more. After Christ’s suffering is done, He will return to His Father in heaven. Rather than asking to avoid the crucifixion, Jesus is praying that after he “drinks from the cup of wrath,” he have that cup taken away so that he can enjoy fellowship again. I believe that Christ physically did not want to go to the cross, but “He came to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).

  4. I see what you are saying here, but I do not believe that Jesus did not want to go to the cross. I know that he knew that is what he had to do; it was the reason why he was sent to earth; the reason for the incarnation (as pointed out earlier). If we take a look at the whole sentence in v. 42 we find that Jesus says, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” Jesus displays his knowledge and understanding that God’s will for him will be done. Jesus knows that there is no escaping death, but what he wants is for the pain and suffering to be lifted. He knows that what he will have to endure will be much more than what a human body can bear. Verse 43 then says, “An angel from heaven appeared to him and stregnthened him.” God was providing his son with the strength that he would need to get through this difficult time. The very next verse says that, “in anguish, he prayed.” Even though God had given Jesus the strength to endure the pain and suffering that was about to be thrust upon him, Jesus, being human, was still terrified of it all, but knew that once it was over, God’s will for his life would be fulfilled.

    • I do believe the picture we are painting here in these posts, struggling with did he or did he not want to do it, was exactly the picture that Jesus was going through. Did he not want to go to the cross? Carry says no, while Crystal says yes, and I do think both of you guys have valid points. What was Jesus’ ultimate purpose on earth? “To do the will of the one who sent [him]”[John 6:36]. There are times that EVEN though I know exactly what I have to do, there is something in me that needs to say that I don’t want to do it, not because I will listen to myself, but because it is a natural response that I have. I don’t think it is EVER natural for ANYONE to want to go die a ridiculous death, but because Jesus has His eyes fixed on the Father, His heart and mind is already set on Jerusalem, to the cross.

      • I would agree with you Moses. There are times where I want to have a moment and tell God exactly how I am feeling about something He has put on my heart. Like David’s brutally honest laments in the psalms I want to question how something works, or how God could use me, or just wine a little about what he has given me. Like Jonah I sometimes wish I had a plant to hang my head under as I wrap my mind around/get up the courage to do as God says. This is human nature. We cannot deny the human part of Jesus. He went through this internal struggle (manifested in prayer) over the plan God had for Him. I think Abraham had this moment as he tied his son to the altar… God why? God this is going to hurt me and my family so badly? Why me? How is this part of your will? Do I really trust You? The record of these moments in the Bible is so crucial to us connecting with the story of the gospel throughout the ages. It shows vulnerability, weakness, and struggle all parts of obedience and walking in faith. Without these we would have a hard time connecting with Jesus, with Abraham, and with David. These struggles and desperate prayers validate our own struggle to walk the narrow road no matter the cost.

  5. It seems to myself that when Jesus is asking God to take the cup away from him because of the burden that he had to carry. Jesus obviously knew that soon he had to die to restore us all, and I cannot imagine the burden of knowing that you had to willing sacrifice yourself. Is it actually the rath of God? I don’t know, and can’t say.

    “In Isaiah, the cup of God’s wrath is taken away from the people after they have experienced it. They received the punishment in full, but afterwards the cup is removed and they experience the blessings of the Lord in the Kingdom.”

    My question from this particular scripture is did they truely recieve the blessings from God anytime after the destruction of Israel. Even when Jesus was alive they were under foreign rulers. It doesn’t seem that blessing were really ever presented to the Jews after David, and Solomon’s reigns.

  6. Either way, we see Jesus praying so hard that he starts to sweat blood… an anomaly that is so rare that occurs to a very few people who are facing an immeasurable amount of stress. I think dying on the cross and bearing the sins of the world would fit this category… I have been raised all my life to think that when Jesus prayed in the garden, he was asking God if there was any other alternative. I don’t see a problem in this. As Crystal pointed out and as scripture says, Jesus asks for the cup to be taken from Him but for God’s will to be done. Does this mean that the cup was the cross or would the cup be the weight of the sins of the world? And either way… when does the cup end? At the cross? After he died and rose again? If God is outside of time and space, would it be unreasonable to claim that he’s still bearing the cup? I don’t have the answers because I don’t have a sufficient background on the issue but it is very interesting to me these questions…

  7. Growing up I have always thought that Jesus was trying to get out of suffering a horrible death. I don’t blame him at all because it has to be hard knowing you will be partaking in “one of the cruelest forms of execution humanity has ever devised” (Blomberg, 401). I have never analyzed this part of scripture to even think about what the meaning of it is. P. Long brings up a very thoughtful suggestion to explain this question. To understand anything from the Bible it is important to look at the whole context behind the passage. When doing this in Luke, you see how often Jesus does refer to Isaiah 40-55. I think because the fact that Jesus is constantly referring to Isaiah, it makes logical sense to view option 3 as the correct choice. The only problem I do have with this is what would the “yet not my will, but your will be done” mean? Jesus knew that He was supposed to die on the cross. He said to his disciples that the He will die and on the third day rise again. I am with Jason on this one, that I don’t know how to answer this because I don’t know enough about it. Maybe someone else knows the answer… What does Jesus mean by “yet not my will, but your will be done” mean? Does it matter?

  8. I always imagined this task as one of the hardest challenges in Jesus’ life. He was completely human, so the same pain and discomfort that we experience he felt. This must have been a high stress situation. The foreknowledge of death, His mission to the disciples, and the temptation is enough to drive anyone crazy. Going off what Cary was saying, this display of Jesus’ character is inspirational. I am not sure what his motivation was in saying this to His Father. The only thing that is displayed in the Gospels is a history of His actions. He endured the pain for our gain.

  9. I believe like you stated that the while reason for the incarnation of Jesus Christ was to die in the cross. Jesus knew that and he told his disciples that he was meant to die. We know that the reason for Jesus coming to Earth was to die and a lot of our faith is based on this fact. I believe that when Jesus was talking about the cup he was talking about in Isaiah 40-55. He is anticipating when the wrath of God is pleased.

  10. This is an interesting debate here. I have not thought that this passage was maybe taken out of context. It is true, there are various situations that “good preaching” trumps good theology and that has corrupted the interpretation of that particular Scripture. But is this passage one of them?

    This passage has been explained as Jesus asking his that God would take the cross away from him if there is any other way. And then it is highlighted that Jesus does not demand his rights but God’s will. That is very preachable, let me tell you. However, it is a good question to ask if this is the way that it should be taken. Jesus has known that his mission was culminating at the cross, he also knew very well that he was going to go to the cross and die there. This is seen in his predictions of his death as he spoke to his disciples in Matt 16:21-28; 20:17-19; Mark 8:31, 32;10:32-34; Luke 9:22; 18:31-34; John 2:19-22; and12:20-36. Jesus knew that he was going to die, he knew that he was going to die on the cross as well as it was foretold in the Scripture. So the question is why would Jesus ask that God would withdraw that cup from him when that was his mission? Yes, he is human, but is that what he really wanted? What is really interesting is that in John 12:20-36 Jesus speaks about his death and that “cup” that is coming. It says that he was there to die and he was going to do it no matter what. In 12:27 it says: “Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!” This is not the same point where Jesus was at the garden but it does give a glimpse on what Jesus thought of the situation. He knew it was coming and he was ready for it.

    So what did Jesus mean by his saying “take this cup from me”? I can see an explanation that you have given P. Long. I am wondering what the implications of his statement though. Why would Jesus have to pray that the wrath of the cup be taken away from him after he partook of it? Does that mean there is a possibility that Jesus could have been given the cup permanently? What would that do to Jesus’ divinity and the communion with God? There is a great mystery when we hear Jesus cry out that God had forsaken him (Matt. 27:46), but what would happen to that discussion when we put the possibility that this separation could have been permanent? Those are some initial questions that I have for this solution but I may be misunderstanding the implications of the statement. I hope we can discuss this class tomorrow.

    • There is more to be said, of course. I think that there is something to the idea that Jesus became the curse (Gal 3), and that in some way he “becomes Israel” and takes on the curse of the law. If that is true, then the removal of the wrath of God is a removal of the curse of the Law so that God’s people can be made right in a new covenant based on Jesus, rather than the old covenant based on Law. (I am reading a bit of Galatians into this, I know).

  11. I’m really not sure where I stand on this one. I do know that I agree with the idea that often times in the church “someone along the way interpreted something completely incorrectly, and for some reason, that interpretation just stuck” as Joe said. That wrong interpretations and ideas get taught as fact and then eventually accepted as fact by the majority along the way. But, on the other hand, I’m not convinced that this is the case here. The option of Jesus wanting to regain fellowship seems to be less potentially problomatic to his character, maybe easier to swallow in a sense, but not necessarily more convincing. I have always heard it taught that Jesus was asking if it was possible that he would not have to go through this, but what I have always been taught hasn’t always proven to be correct, so again, I’m not sure where I stand. I think both options make valid points and make sense on a certain level. As to what one is the right one, I’m not so sure this time. To me one of the real problematic things in this section is Jesus’ statement “not my will but yours be done” (v. 32). If Jesus is God, how could their wills be different?

  12. After reading some of the posts; there is a slight debate about Jesus humanity and wether or not he is asking the Father to remove the ‘cup of wrath,’ or perhaps the path of the cross. As I read through Luke 22: 41-46, I noticed something right before Jesus prays this statement to the Father, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” Right before verse 41, in verse 40 we find that Jesus tells his disciples to “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” Perhaps this can add to the discussion a bit?
    That verse makes me think about when Jesus is first baptised and afterwards goes into the wilderness for 40 days to be tempted by Satan. In the temptation Jesus is aware of it and instead quotes Scripture against Satan. I think of that because Jesus experienced the temptation, it was real, yet he remained obedient to the Father. In the sameway looking into the Scripture in Luke 22; it’s almost as if I see this passage where Jesus asks the Father to remove whatever it is he’s going through. There seems to be a temptation involved what actually is it? Was the temptation that the disciples fell asleep, or is the temptation a physical and mental means of what is about to take place with Judas betraying Jesus and the gaurds coming? To conclude, I can see how this cup could be a returning of the fellowship to the Father, but as well I see how it can be an appeal for the strength to carry out His Father’s will for what is about to happen to Him.

  13. I, like Jason, was raised believing that Jesus was asking God that if it were possible for Him to not have to face the cross, then it would be so. I never knew there was a debate on what the verse meant, I just assumed what I was told was right. I think that Blaising’s idea here makes a lot of sense, and can very well be what Jesus was saying. However, I don’t see why He couldn’t have meant what I stated previously; that He wanted God to take away what was going to come if at all possible. As we all know, Jesus was both fully God, and fully man, so why couldn’t He be having feelings of nervousness before this act. “For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted”, (Hebrews 2:17-18). Jesus was made like us in every way, I think that would account for not wanting to go through with something. Perhaps I am wrong with this idea, but I believe that Jesus very well could have been asking God to take away from Him the act that was going to happen. He then finished the verse with “not my will, but yours be done.” This fits this explanation very well. He does not want to go through with it, but He wants God’s will to be done, and not His.

  14. what you mean whe you God became in flesh??!! do you mean no God on above. this is something never I can digest that.

  15. “do you mean no God on above. this is something never” In Christianity, the incarnation implies the Trinity. The second person of the Trinity takes on human flesh in order to be True Israel and a pure sacrifice for Sin (read Phil. 2:5-11, I am also alluding to Gen 22 here, the lamb God provides). If you do not already believe in a Trinity, the incarnation will be a stretch.

  16. Jesus said in John 17; “I HAVE FINISHED THE WORK”
    And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
    I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.
    And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.

    Then later Jesus said; “I AM NO LONGER IN THE WORLD”
    And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. John 17:12-16 (KJV)
    While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.
    And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.
    I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
    I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.
    They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

    I believe when Jesus was praying, He sweat drops of blood because He knew that the moment God Saw Him as sin, God Almighty would turn His head and Jesus would loose his “PRECIOUS” communication for strength, He so often spoke of!!!

    Reading that Jesus previously said “I have finished the work God sent Him to do…which was to disciple…mentoring the 12, and then being only a stones throw away from the disciples said, “I am no longer in the world;”
    sounds like Jesus was past the Cross!!!


  17. II have had eliminated all the possibilities for the cup of the wrath of God but to me it appears crystal clear that all of our sins, from the Adam to the last created human being on this earth, all of our weaknesses,trials, problems, illnesses,anything and everything human, all of it is contained in the Cup.And the hidden verrse that Our Lord drank it tells me that it is only a God to God thing. All of our sins, he drank and filled his body and He, so aptly described by Saint Paul, who wrote”He who knew not sin became sin’.
    How wonderful and amazing this Great and Loving God is. Thank You Lord Jesus for taking my sins to the Cross.Thank you for your forgiveness Abba, Father.

    • Robert alias Dahlseide

      IMHO, Jesus was not praying to avoid the cross, he was praying to get to the cross. He was near death in the garden, “my soul is …”: he was sweating life’s blood. Why? Because God had given Satan permission (like Job but far worse – none of us can imagine) for a no holds barred attack on his very soul. He was praying that Satan’s wrath not prevent him from getting to the cross. His prayer, as usual, was answered in the affirmative; he proceeded to the cross to “cry my God why hast though forsaken me?!”

      In whatever way it was possible for Satan to tempt him none of us can imagine –except that the purpose was to make him doubt he was the Messiah; had he died in the garden he knew he could not be Messiah, he must die on the cross/tree. No temptation that Jesus had faced before was like those we are faced with, except this one ultimate temptation, “are you truly the Messiah?”; “You are dying right here in the garden!; how could you be?”. Have we ever been tempted like that – you bet!

      The arguments against my take are that hour & cup are univocal; but the price is more than I am willing to pay – the will of Jesus never contradicted his father’s whenever he knew it: as he grew in knowledge of that will from the cradle to the cross.

      I need an hour & cup referred to the wrath of Satan, I invented both; not unlike the physicist’s invention of neutrinos to explain a seeming contradiction in physics; neutrinos were invented in the twenties but had not been discovered by my first year, ’61, of QM; now they have been detected in different many ways.

      If there is a better explanation, quite possibly Blaising’s, I will embrace it; so long as it holds that Christ’s will never deviated from his father’s: as he grew from cradle to “My God, my God, why hast though forsaken me”

  18. The idea/view of Blaising makes sense, rather than the other way around…that’s what Christ came 4

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