July 15, 2013
From the desk of Dr. A.J. Higgins
The cup which My Father hath given Me, shall I not drink it?
Then the band … took Jesus and bound Him.
Readers have noticed how different John’s account of the Garden scene is from the three synoptic writers. His is not contradictory but complementary. He is telling us of the Son and His eagerness to do the Father’s will. John’s Gospel is the Gospel of the Son of the Father and that relationship is the background upon which all the events of the Gospel occur. As a result, there is no mention of the prayer and tears, the sorrow and sore amazement; the heaviness that would have bowed a natural man in death. We read only that in stately dignity and majesty, He “went forth.”
It is John alone who identifies Peter as the garden swordsman with a bad aim. It may well be, on a natural level, that Peter was now safely home in heaven and no enemies could use it against him or retaliate.
Each of the Gospel chroniclers, however, bring us to a different ‘crisis point’ in the apprehension of the Lord Jesus Christ. Matthew tells us that it was when the Lord Jesus mentioned that all this was necessary that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled (Matt 26:56). Matthew is concerned with showing His Jewish-Christian readers the fulfillment of the O.T. in Christ.
Mark uses a similar expression but changes it slight to say, “but the Scriptures must be fulfilled.” He lays stress upon the necessity of the Servant to fulfill Scripture by his insertion of ‘must.’
When we turn to Luke, his wording is entirely different. “This is your hour and the power of darkness. Then took they Him … ” (Luke 22:53, 54). The Perfect Man was now in the hands of wicked men and Satanic power as they enjoyed their ‘hour’ of liberty to do with Him whatever they wished.
John is different again. It is all about the Son and the Father. It is Genesis 22 and Abraham and Isaac going ‘together’ to the altar (Gen 22:6). The Father had given Him a cup to drink and He desired to drink it. The Father’s will was His sole guiding principle and motivation. John is not ignoring the Scriptures of the prophets, the awfulness of the hour and the demonic forces arrayed against the Son, but for him, the cross is preeminently the Son showing His love and devotion to His Father. His words reveal an intertwining of majesty and meekness, of splendor and submission, of grace and glory.
1. Gather up all the references to things ‘given’ to Christ by His Father in John’s Gospel.
2. Think of other ways in which each Gospel writer highlights some different feature of the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus, in keeping with his theme and presentation of Christ.