Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, (Matt. 26:39)
This quite simply illustrates Jesus' devotion to the Supreme Being. Jesus saw himself as God's humble servant, and this posture - of putting his face to the ground - was (and still is) a customary position for a devoted loving servant of God.
This of course contradicts ecclesiastical professional Christian teachers who proclaim that Jesus is God. Would God pray to Himself? Would God fall to his face in humble prayer to Himself? It is simply ludicrous that people would read these verses and still believe that Jesus could possibly be God.
At any rate, we discussed with the previous verse why Jesus was troubled, and this was expressed in Jesus' prayer. Jesus was troubled because he knew he was going to be arrested shortly, and tried and persecuted at the hands of the Romans. So Jesus was struggling with the fact that he could, at that moment, easily slip away and avoid the arrest all together.
As we review the meaning of his prayer here, this becomes evident:
Jesus begins by asking God, "if it is possible." The key Greek words used here are:
"If" comes from εἰ (ei) - but can also mean "whether" according to the lexicon.
"Possible" is being translated from δυνατός (dynatos) - means "able, powerful, mighty, strong" according to the lexicon, as well as "to be able (to do something)".
The word "cup" is being translated from the Greek word ποτήριον (potērion) as indeed it can refer to "a cup," or "a drinking vessel" according to the lexicon. However, in this case, it is being used metaphorically, as Jesus is hardly speaking of cups here. The metaphorical meaning of ποτήριον according to Thayer's lexicon, is: "one's lot or experience, whether joyous or adverse, divine appointments, whether favourable or unfavourable, are likened to a cup which God presents one to drink: so of prosperity and adversity."
In other words, the word ποτήριον indicates a person's fate.
Here "be taken" is derived from παρέρχομαι (parerchomai), positioned on both sides of is being translated to "be taken" here. While it can mean "to go past" or "pass by" according to the lexicon, again we must apply its metaphorical meaning here, and according to the lexicon, this is: "to pass away" or "perish." Understanding this, what is being communicated can be better captured with "to remove."
Then "from" is translated from ἀπό (apo) here. This is appropriate, as its literal meaning is "to be separated from."
Then ἐγώ (egō) refers appropriately to the personal pronoun, "me."
As we put this together, Jesus is asking in the first part of his prayer that a particular "lot" or "fate" be "removed" or "taken from" him.
What is he asking to be removed? His fate. And what is his fate? He just disclosed his fate to his disciples, as he indicated that he would be arrested and persecuted, while his disciples would abandon him.
This indicates that the fate Jesus is asking God to remove is his coming persecution at the hands of the Romans. He is asking God if it is possible that this does not take place.
Jesus is asking this, again, because he is "troubled." He told Peter, James and John before this prayer: "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death." (Matt. 26:38)
It is customary, even today, for a person to pray to God when troubled about something. Jesus was obviously troubled about his forthcoming persecution, and wondering if God could change his fate. Especially when he could have, at that very moment, run off and avoid his coming arrest altogether.
The key to the prayer is that even with his asking God this, he also pledges that he will do what pleases God:
The Greek πλήν (plēn) is translated to "yet," but means "moreover, besides, but, nevertheless" according to the lexicon. While "yet" is not necessarily wrong, it does not communicate the point. "Moreover, besides, but, nevertheless" does not mean "yet." "Moreover" indicates "more importantly," or even "notwithstanding" - as the word has been translated elsewhere in the New Testament. The point is that Jesus is not saying "yet" here, he is saying the next thing he says in his prayer is "more important". He is saying "more importantly..."
The next phrase is better broken down in two parts. The Greek phrase, οὐχ ὡς ἐγὼ θέλω indicates - and is appropriately translated to - "not as I will." However, the phrase is deeper than even this. The word "will" translates from θέλω (thelō), which means "to intend," "to be resolved," "determined," "to purpose," "to desire" or "to wish" according to Thayer's lexicon.
So the translation could just as well said, "not what I want" or "not according to my wishes".
The last part of the phrase, ἀλλ’ ὡς σύ, indicates - and is appropriately translated to - "but as You will." Because the Greek phrase is possessive, and does not contain the word θέλω (thelō) as the first phrase did, it actually means something like "but Yours." In other words, "not my wishes, but Yours." But since this could be misunderstood, the translators have appropriately restated "will" here, as Jesus is saying "Not my will, but Your will." This could be rephrased as, "not what I want, but what You want."
So as we examine the Greek, the more appropriate understanding of Jesus' prayer would be something like:
"My Father, if it is possible, please remove my coming fate. More importantly, may I not do what I want, but what You want."
This translation and interpretation of Jesus' prayer, and his struggle with his coming fate is confirmed by his second prayer, where Jesus resigns himself to his fate. The current NIV translation is:
"My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may Your will be done." (Matt. 26:42)
However, in this second prayer, there is no reason for the word "cup" to be included. The first prayer's Greek word ποτήριον (potērion), translated to "cup" but really referring to "lot" or "fate," isn't in the second prayer at all. Rather, the second prayer uses the Greek word αὐτός (autos), which means "this" is assumed to be referring to "cup", only because in this second prayer Jesus uses the word πίνω (pinō), which can mean "to drink" according to the lexicon. However, when πίνω is used in the figurative sense, it means, according to the lexicon: "to receive..."
Besides, a person does not drink a cup. A person drinks from a cup.
This means that Jesus' second prayer also is not talking about a cup at all, but is referring to Jesus' being resigned to receive his fate rather than asking God to remove his fate as he does in the first prayer.
Then Jesus says virtually the same thing in the second part of the second prayer as the second part of the first prayer, but conclusively. The Greek phrase is γενηθήτω τὸ θέλημά σου, which means "Your will be done." This utilizes the Greek word θέλημα (thelēma) which also indicates "will" but also means "desires" or "wishes."
Thus the second prayer goes something like this:
The bottom line is that Jesus is wanting to do what pleases the Supreme Being. And Jesus certainly was struggling with his fate (metaphorically stated as a cup) but understood through his prayers that this is what God wanted him to do.“O my Lord, if this cup may not be taken from me unless I drink from it, may You be pleased."
Why? Why did the Supreme Being allow Jesus to be persecuted, beaten and gruesomely murdered? Was it all God's big plan to redeem our sins with Jesus' life - like some sacrificial lamb - as ecclesiastical sectarians propose?
This is a ridiculous proposition. God does not need to sacrifice anyone on the cross in order to redeem, or purify us of our sins. God is the Supreme Controller. He can purify or cleanse sins simply by willing it. He does not need to have any kind of physical mechanism - someone suffering - to redeem sins.
Jesus himself confirms this, as he taught his students to pray:
"Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your Name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debt, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." (Matt. 6:9-13)The part of the prayer: "Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors," translates the Greek word ὀφείλημα (opheilēma) to "debts," which can also mean "sins" according to the lexicon. Thus some translations of the Lord's prayer, say:
"Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who have sinned against us."Jesus confirms this when he says afterward:
"For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." (Matt. 6:14-15)Now if the only way to be forgiven our sins was to have Jesus die on the cross, why does Jesus tell his students to ask God for forgiveness? Why didn't Jesus simply tell his students: "Just wait until they crucify me, and then just accept that my death wipes away your sins"? No, he did not say that, because it isn't true. God can forgive our sins directly. We simply need to ask Him, and we have to be willing to forgive others.
This means that this whole routine revolving around Easter is simply a farce. All the empty ceremonies, such as "Good Friday" and "Easter" are simply offensive celebrations.
What is "Good" about the day that Jesus was beaten and murdered by unbelievers who felt threatened by Jesus' teachings? Ecclesiastical sectarians want to call this day "good" because they are rejoicing about how their sins are now forgiven. In other words, it's all about getting cleansed. This is the ultimate self-centered illusion.
Could this be true? That once Jesus died, we no longer have to be responsible for our actions? We can simply wipe our responsibilities off on Jesus? Is Jesus our doormat that we simply wipe our sins off on? This is an offensive position that only a self-centered person would take.
And what about "Easter"? What about all the Easter egg hunts and the chocolate bunnies? What does this materialism have to do with Jesus, who taught that we should not seek after material things, but seek love of God? What does Easter have to do with God at all? Nothing.
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear." (Luke 12:22)Oh, but isn't Easter supposed to commemorate that Jesus rose from the dead? So are they saying that Jesus died? And then proved that he was the son of God by rising from the dead?
Jesus never died. Yes, his physical body died, and Jesus, the person, the loving servant and representative of God, never died. Instead, he left his body at the time of death. This is in fact confirmed in the scriptures:
And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. (Matt. 27:50)"Gave up his spirit" - from the Greek phrase, ἀφῆκεν τὸ πνεῦμα - means to "depart" (ἀφῆκεν) from the body. Quite literally, the phrase, ἀφῆκεν τὸ πνεῦμα means his spirit departed.
We all leave our bodies at the time of death. We all "rise" up out of our bodies and continue to live. This has been proven in millions of cases of clinical death, where the person describes rising up above the body and looking down on it.
Jesus' rise from his dead physical body was different, as he explained earlier, that when his body dies, he would be returning to God in the spiritual realm:
"Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" (John 20:17)But what about Jesus' appearances to his disciples after this? Certainly Jesus had the authority to make appear, just as angels appear to people. But Jesus did not appear in his dead physical body. How do we know that?
The scripture states clearly that Jesus appeared in a form different from his physical body:
Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country. (Mark 16:12)Is there any indication in the above verses that Jesus "rose" in his physical body? These verses contradict such a ridiculous notion.
Furthermore, Jesus' close students and disciples did not recognize him:
As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him. (Luke 24:15)
Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. (John 24:4)
At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. (John 20:14)
When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. (Matt. 28:17)
Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. (Luke 24:31)
But what about Jesus' missing body? This is besides the point. Just because the body was gone doesn't mean Jesus appeared in his physical body. The first tomb belonged to the family of Joseph of Arimathea (John 19:38). And because Jewish law made it illegal for a person to be put into the tomb belonging to someone else, certainly Jesus' physical body was likely simply taken to another tomb - a permanent tomb.
In fact, recent archaeological findings have likely found the family tomb of Jesus and possibly even his ossuary (bone box). (See this verse and commentary for more information.)
Jesus didn't teach that we rise in our physical bodies. Jesus taught that the body was temporary:
"I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him." (Luke 12:4-5)These are the teachings of a person who understood that the body is a temporary vehicle, and we are the person who lives on after the death of the physical body. How else could a person go to hell after the body dies if they don't leave the body?
But yes, for those who believe that we are the physical body, and there is no life after death, there can be meaning for Jesus to have lived on after the death of his body. But the verses are clear that he did not rise in his physical body. Otherwise, his close students and disciples would have immediately recognized him.
And yes, it is true that if a person realizes the meaning of Jesus' willing to do God's will, and stand up for his teachings (which were to love God), and not run away and avoid arrest, and be willing to sacrifice his life in the service of God, then that person can become purified.
The real purification from understanding Jesus' ultimate sacrifice, is the realization that Jesus was willing to do God's will, despite the pain he would endure, because he wanted to please the Supreme Being. He loved God and wanted to please Him.
It is understanding this act of love for God that has the power to "save" or "purify" us, simply because it can raise our consciousness to the point where we can also desire to love God. And it is this desire to love God and please God that opens the door to returning to our natural loving relationship with God, and ultimately returning home to Him in the spiritual world, as Jesus has.
And this brings us to why God allowed Jesus to be crucified. The physical body is like a car. We drive it for awhile and then have to get out. Every physical body dies. But Jesus, being God's loving servant, was not going to run away under the threat of arrest. He was going to stand behind his teachings, because these were God's teachings. This brought the ultimate pleasure to Jesus because it pleased the One he loved - God. Therefore, God allowed Jesus to serve Him in this way.
In other words, it was part of an exchange of a loving relationship.
Today we see all kinds of people make sacrifices. Some give their lives for their country. Some give their lives to protest a government. Why? Because they believe in their cause, and they want to show others just how important that cause is.
This is no different from Jesus, but Jesus' cause was love for God. He wanted others to understand just how important it is that we come to know and love the Supreme Being. It was important enough to him to make the ultimate sacrifice for. And it is understanding this message that can save us:
"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38)
(For a translation of Jesus' statements from the Book of Matthew without institutional sectarian influence, see the Gospels of Jesus - translated from the original Greek texts.)