Tonight I taught a class on the Definition of Chalcedon. This represents the Christian understanding that Christ is 100 percent God and 100 percent man (“very God of very God of very man of very man”).
A discussion that arises every time I teach on this is how are we to explain Christ’ s apparent lapse in memory and mission when he prays in the garden to the Father, “If it is possible, let this cup pass from me . . .” (Matt. 26:39).
What did Christ mean when he said this? Did he really not know whether it was possible or not? He seemed so intent on his purpose to go to the cross before. Did he think that there just might be some loop-hole that would get him out of his suffering?
Not too long before, he rebuked Peter calling him “Satan” for even suggesting that he would not suffer (Matt. 16:23). Then immediately after this, Peter does it again when he cuts the ear of the guard off. Christ says, “Am I not to drink this cup that the Father has given me?” (John 18:11). So Christ’s seeming “prayer of absolution” is bookended by his stern rebuke of others who hope for this very absolution.
Here is the essence of my question. Was Christ sincere about this request or is there something more to it?