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

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.”

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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.

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

  1. Yes, indeed interesting, but too we also see Jesus great humanity in his sufferings and accepting God’s “covenant” will to do so… verse 40 must not be left out in the context, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” And verse 42…”Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done.” Indeed seeing the context seems to indicate the more spiritual but surely physical context, that leads to verse 44. See the ESV Study Bible note here, that combines both the metaphorial and the physical reality in the condition of “hematidrosis”. Indeed both the spiritual/emotional and physical trauma in Jesus Himself! I see the more classic understanding of Jesus human and emotional suffering, but in the “will” of the Father. And again Jesus presses the idea of “temptation” for his disciples and apostles, Lk. 22: 46. I think we loose the human and existential reality if we press into Isaiah, overly!

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    • Just to further make my wee point, Christ indeed took the ‘Cup of God’s wrath for sin’, but surely this came to head on the Cross itself, as we see later “And he was reckoned or numbered (literally with lawless persons..Lk. 22: 37) among the trangressors” (Isa. 53: 12; but the great necesssity of fulfillment came at Calvary, “It is finished/accomplished) but it somewhat began in Gethsemane= the oil-press. But here, it is His humanity being greatly affected and proven…”And there appeared an angel unto Him from heaven, strengthening Him.” (Verse 43, As too after the Temptation, Matt. 4: 11) Indeed both personally and theologically Jesus is the Christ, the God-Man, His humanity is always important!

      “Behold The Man” (Zech. 6: 12)..as is the Gospel of Luke!

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  2. Jesus was fully God and fully human; the fact that he was fully human is extremely important. Jesus had real temptations on earth and he had to overcome them. God was able to not sin, and he accomplished that, but his temptations were real. I believe that he honestly asked God if there was another way, where he would not have to go through the pain and sacrifice. The fact that it was hard for him to sacrifice himself shows that he really did love us, that he really did make a sacrifice for us, and that it was hard for him. Jesus says, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” By saying “not my will, but yours” (Luke 22:42) shows that their wills were different, Jesus obviously was not excited about the idea of dying on the cross, but he told God that he would do it his way. Also, while Jesus was praying, God sends an angel to “strengthen him,” (Luke 22:43). This shows that Jesus need the strength to overcome the fleshly temptation to escape the pain and sacrifice of death on the cross.

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  3. Audrey, I enjoy reading what you have to say about this, and I am not sure I could put forth a better argument. However I do believe that when he said to take this cup from me was more leaning toward the fellowship and seat he would have with the father after drinking from the cup of wrath. As much as it is important to acknowledge his humanity, it is also important to realize his knowledge of the prophecies and how he was to fulfill them, and in particular his teachings in Isaiah that use the same cup of God’s wrath as a parallel. Of course I do think it was painful and hard for Jesus to go to the cross for such sinful and ungrateful people, that hated him, but I do not think that takes away from any knowledge that he had in what he was supposed to do on the cross. Why would he have tried to avoid the cross if that was the whole point and what he had been preaching about all along? I think the whole point of Jesus’ ministry aside from the cross was alignment with the Father and the Father’s will, so why would he have a different will than the Father? Temptations that tried to get him to derive from God’s will, possibly. But that is not necessary to be evident here and Jesus’ reference to his will being separate from God’s I believe is more of a way of articulating the human pain that he had to suffer in doing God’s will, not that Jesus didn’t wish for what God wanted, because that is clearly what he is praying. I think that this prayer was more of a fellowship with God and an articulation of Jesus’ pain, sorrow, and weakness as a human, but also a way of re-aligning and preparing himself for what was to come. I don’t think Jesus was looking for a way out of the cross. That was his purpose and he knew that.

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  4. The whole point here in Luke 22: 40-46, is not the idea of Jesus getting around the Father’s will of the Cross, but to test and prove Christ’s real humanity and temptation to obey therein God the Father’s will, as we can see later in St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians in 2: 5-11, there we see that the mind/thinking/attitude and humanity of Christ was/is in submssion to that of the Father, to the point of laying aside even His own privileges of deity,to the obedience of His death upon the cross. Again, here, in Luke is the aspect of the Christ as man: “The Third Living creature had a face as a Man,” agreeable to which the third Gospel sets forth the Lord as Son of Adam, or Son of Man. Again the Holy Scripture combines to show both Christ’s humanity and divinity, Son of Man and Son of God. And in Luke it is especially Christ as Man, the human yet divine Man! We can also see this purpose in each of the Four Gospels, even in John Jesus is the Word made or become enfleshed: Man. Of course I am looking “thematicly” here, but the Holy Scripture does do this itself!

    In Gethsemane, as CS Lewis could write, ‘Jesus prayer shows that anxiety is part of our human destiny; the perfect Man experienced it.’ And also, ‘Lest any trial incident to humanity should be lacking, the torments of hope – of suspense, anxiety – were at the last moment loosed upon Him’. These are hard words to reconcile with our Lord’s divinity, but the Immutability of God is also found within the tension of God’s transcendence and immanence, certainly for us human beings, and Christ too was fully human.The depth of Luke 22: 44 simply must be seen!

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  5. I would have to agree with Blaising’s view point as well. This way of looking at it is quite relieving, as the idea of Jesus wanting to avoid the cross entirely, is a little unsettling as you mentioned P. Long. I seem to have been saying this a lot, but it is true, that, this is another thing that I have never really been able to understand and grasp the true, full meaning of. Jesus’ words “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42) are slightly confusing when we try to put our own interpretation to them. Most people say that it was Jesus’ humanity not wanting to follow through with the torture that He was about to endure. But like Kym said, I also believe that He was praying to the Father the same way He would have any other time—He was in conversation with Him, not that He was looking for a way out, but more that He was looking for that fellowship He once had. He knew His purpose was to come and save the lost (Luke 19:10), and He was following through with that, but He was also looking forward to the time He would have when He would be in perfect communion with the Father again; in just the same way “the cup of God’s wrath” was represented in the Old Testament, especially in Isaiah 40-55 that Jesus often referred to.

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  6. I have always found this passage perplexing when Jesus pleads with the Father to take the cup from him. I had previously thought this cup to represent the suffering that he would endure and similarly the responsibility that was upon him as the Messiah to sacrifice himself as a ransom for many. However, Blaising’s interpretation of this passage using the Old Testament image of punishment in regards to “the cup” introduced a whole new mentality that I find very interesting. Due to the sin that Jesus knew he would have to take upon himself, this would mean that fellowship with the Father would not be an option. Knowing this, it is quite possible that Jesus could be referring to this Old Testament removal of the cup mentality that understood this removing of the cup process to take place following the completion of the punishment. Thus, Jesus could have been asking for a restored fellowship and relationship with the father following the fulfillment of his earthly role as the Messiah. One of my questions resonates with Audrey’s comment dealing with the end of verse 42 in which Jesus submits to the will of the Father, ultimately setting aside his own. Does Jesus have an earthly desire to have this responsibility as the Messiah taken from him? Or is he asking that the suffering be minimal? While he knows that sacrifice that is required, does he desire that it be fulfilled in some other form? Since he came down to the earth and made himself nothing and was made in human likeness (Phil. 2), he was fully exposed to things of the flesh. We are told that he was tempted in every way, yet still was without sin (Heb. 4:15). It seems that from this passage, Jesus’ will or desires were different than that of the Father. Considering the brutal suffering and eventual death that Jesus knew he was about to endure, I can completely understand that Jesus would be nervous and possibly even fearful about the suffering that he was to endure. However, Jesus’ earthly ministry would be pointless if he were not to carry out his role as the Messiah. Time and time again, he slowly but surely reveals himself as the Messiah who would take on the sins of the world, although many did not believe him as he did not fit their first-century expectations. Is it possible that his human flesh desired the fulfillment to happen in a different way, yet that his divinity knew that this was the only way? It is hard for me to grasp the two things coexisting which is why I find Blaising’s interpretation very insightful. Yet it is hard for me to reconcile his interpretation with the end of verse 42 that implies the will of Jesus and the Father being different. If Jesus were asking for a restored relationship after the suffering as Blaising suggests, how does this present a difference in wills?

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    • Indeed Blaisings idea does not see the reality of the Son of God, as dual in nature, but not dual in Person, Christ our God is perfect God and perfect Man! And HE is “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.” (Col.1: 15) “No clear distinction is made between Christ as God and Christ as Man, but the point of the verse is obvious. As God, Christ is eternally and consubstantially (of one essence) the image of the Father. As Man, Christ is the image in which man was made and toward which man is moving. In both natures, He fully represents and manifests the Father. As man, Christ is the image in which man was made and toward which man is moving. In both natures, He fully represents and manifests the Father.” Therefore we error if we miss the theological doctrine of the Hypostatic Union of the divine and human natures in the Person of Christ. This doctrine was somehwat elaborated by Cyril of Alexandria and incorporated in the Definition of Chalcedon. Biblically Christ exists in two natures without confusion! And here in Luke 22: 44 we are seeing the human nature of Christ within the Son of Man divine & incarnate! Here we have that ontological efficaiousness in Christ Jesus Himself! We will surely error if we press right or left!

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      • I have to agree with Audrey as well. Because Jesus was fully human and fully God, he still faced those temptations that every human faces. Jesus still had feelings and emotions and I am sure he did not want to suffer on the cross but did because he knew what he was being called to do by his Father. The fact that he asked for strength and that it was given to him is a powerful thing. Just like Audrey said, Jesus did not suffer on the cross but he did because this is what was asked of him and he wanted the will of God. I think this really shows his love for us. I would also have to agree with Jessica when she points out the confusion it brings to finding the real meaning of Luke 22:42, especially when there are so many views and interpretations on the passage. It is hard to know the real interpretation when there are so many other opinions out there or if one has not really thought about it in different ways.

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  7. Jesus’ use of “this cup” is a metaphor for his future sufferings (ESV Study Bible). Jesus knew what was going to take place and in his humanity I believe he was calling out to God as to an alternative for the scourging and beating that was to be inflicted on him. He knew his mission was the cross. Do we not in our moments of weakness and desperation cry out to God? We weep, we moan, we call out to God to take away whatever it is that is greatly concerning us. Yes, we say we have a relationship with the Father as did Jesus but the frailty of the flesh can and does overtake what we know to be God’s plan for our lives. If we knew that within a day’s time we were going to endure what Jesus did would we not call out to God to take this cup from us? But, Jesus knew the will of the Father, “not my will, but yours, be done”. The angel came and comforted Jesus. From what? The coming humiliation and agony of Calvary. I do not believe Jesus was looking for a way out for he knew his mission was to “endure the cross, despising the shame” Hebrews 12:2.

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  8. I believe that Jesus was referring to Isaiah because as Blaising says, the whole reason for Jesus coming down and living was to serve and give HIs life as a ransom for everyone. He didn’t come to submit to God until it was time for Him to die, but that He was submitting to God the whole time. Jesus humbled Himself and knew what He came to do, what He was going to do, what was going to happen, and that He had to do it and He accepted that and lived His life with that one and only purpose, to die on the cross. The cup in Isaiah is taken away from the people after they have experienced it, and Jesus is giving the cup to God and asking that it be taken from Him after He has done what He came to do. I believe that Jesus is looking forward to fellowship with the Father and so He is asking that the cup be taken away for that purpose. Ultimately, Jesus didn’t avoid anything that God put before Him. Jesus came with a specific purpose and mission that He knew about and would not avoid that. For Jesus to even ask God to not let Him go through it, would be slightly disobedient. But since Jesus has refered to the scripture of Isaiah, I believe He is referring to it even at this time and moment.

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  9. Whenever I hear this phrase know it has a deeper meaning, but I never really took the time to study and research it. I had heard in church and basic Bible studies that it could represent Jesus asking God to allow him not to even have to suffer the fate that was placed before him, but the more I read about it, I realized there could be more meanings. As stated in the blog post, it could also be Jesus asking not to die of pain and suffering before the actual event on the cross. The whole goal was for Jesus to die on the cross and provide the ultimate sacrifice for our sins, but he could have been afraid that he was going to die before that even took place. A final theory is that Jesus did not want the pain and suffering to not happen at all, but he just wanted it to be over quickly so that he could restore the relationship with God. Taking on the sins of the world and becoming a barer for all, this altered the relationship between Jesus and his father, and until the deed was done and he was restored through the resurrection that relationship would continue to be damaged. I think all of these theories are accurate ones, but I do not think that Jesus would try to ever try to escape his death on the cross. He knew from the beginning that this was his ultimate goal and without that death, Gods will would not be presented. Jesus spent his whole human life on earth preparing the people for his death, burial and resurrection and when the time came I don’t think there was an doubt in his mind that he was ready to die for our sins and his people.

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