“And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. 40 And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” 41 And he withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” 43 And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. 44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. 45 And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, 46 and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” (Luke 22: 39-46)
“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me.”
Jesus was willing to go to the cross for our sake, but it wasn’t an easy thing. I often hear people make it out to be so. “Oh well, he knew he would rise again. Wouldn’t you do that?” I’m not so certain I would. And as far as that goes, many people die for much less. But for us death is something we spend a lifetime coming to terms with. We are sinners. We know that we are supposed to die, because we are sinners. This was not true of Jesus. He had no sin. He did not need to die, and his death would be a separation from his Father that he had never known before. His death was not an inconsequential thing, but something that he wrestled with fiercely. And yet it would be his death that would bring us salvation.
He prays that the cup would be removed if possible, that it would be removed if the Father could accomplish his will in any other way. Throughout the Old Testament, “the cup” is a term that comes to mean the wrath of God and all that is evil. This is what Jesus will experience on the cross for our sake, even as our own deaths are finally and expression of God’s wrath against our sin. But now that Christ has died in our place, our death is his death, even as his resurrection is ours. So because his death was temporary, so our death will be temporary. We will rise again.