Gethsemane: A Prayer Of Faith -- By: Craig A. Blaising
JETS 22:4 (December 1979) p. 333
Gethsemane: A Prayer Of Faith
Gethsemane reveals a highly personal yet intriguing glimpse into the life of our Lord. It discloses a deep agony gripping the inner person of the God-Man that is difficult to understand. Geldenhuys’ warning concerning this passage is typical of many expositors: “No man will ever be capable of sounding the depths of what the Savior experienced in Gethsemane.”1
Many conflicting interpretations have been offered, serving as a warning to those who would examine it today to proceed with caution and, above all, reverence. A majority of the opinions offered center around a certain common framework: Jesus desired to avoid the cross and expressed this desire to the Father in prayer, but then he readjusted his desire to God’s will and in obedience suffered the cross. This interpretation, however it may be embellished, is not without its problems. Questions immediately arise concerning the will (or wills) of Christ in relation to the will of the Father. The sinlessness and impeccability of Christ are questioned. The problem of consistency with Christ’s own teaching concerning the necessity of the cross must likewise be adequately explained.
Why did Jesus pray this prayer? What did he mean by it? It is hoped that this paper will contribute to a further investigation of these matters, and that it will do so with the reverence that is demanded and with the humble admission that we see like the three that were with him, from afar off and through dim eyes.
I. Exegetical And Hermeneutical Considerations
The Gethsemane prayer is recorded by all three synoptic writers.2 It is not the purpose of this paper to analyze all the problems in the harmonization of these accounts. Only those matters that bear on the meaning of this prayer for Jesus need to be considered. Consequently, attention will be focused on two areas: the events leading up to the prayer, and the form and content of the prayer itself.
1. Events Preceding the Prayer. There are three observations concerning the events preceding the prayer that are important clues to its interpretation. First, there is the fact of Christ’s awareness of and preoccupation with his imminent death. Second, there is evidence that Gethsemane is a temptation scene, a con-
*Craig Blaising is a doctoral candidate at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.
JETS 22:4 (December 1979) p. 334
frontation between Christ and Satan. Third, there is the change of mood that comes over Jesus in the garden on his way to prayer.
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