“Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. ‘Abba, Father,’ he said, ‘everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will'” (Mark 14:35-36).
These words of Jesus reveal the range of his feeling as a human. He is experiencing fierce temptation, urgent dependency, and dread, as other humans experience them.
At the same time, we have a hint of his deity. As the Lamb of God, he is about to bear the penalty for the sins of the world. It has been pointed out that his reference to the cup recalls his words from earlier in the evening: “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you” (Luke 22:20).
As his death draws nearer, he looks into that cup. The prospect of crucifixion must have brought anguish and horror to the Savior’s mind. To be sure, the dread of physical suffering is an understandable human response.
But for the divine Son of God, that cup represented the even costlier sacrifice he was to offer. Donald English wrote, “Only he knew the full implications of his words at the last supper about his body and blood — in the context of Passover and Covenant.”
He would later cry out from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34). That cry would be because he would bear the bitterness of the wages of sin, the sin of the world. Is it any wonder that the sinless Son of God should recoil from the moral corruption and depravity which would be laid on him at Calvary?
“God made him who knew no sin to be sin for us” (2 Corinthians 5:21). This gospel witness by Paul helps explain Gethsemane.
So now, in the garden, the divine-human Jesus seeks comfort from God as “Abba.” That is an intensely personal term of endearment. It is a title the church today is permitted to use to address our Father in heaven. In Christ, and by the Holy Spirit, we who believe may express that same sense of belonging to the family of God as “by him, we cry ‘Abba, Father'” (Romans 8:15).
We are able to do this because of Gethsemane, and Calvary.