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In Gethsemane Christ seemingly prays two different prayers before he prays the last one

Matthew 26:39 NIV

39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

Matthew 26:42 NIV

42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”

Matthew 26:43 NIV

43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.

The third prayer is said to be similar to the previous one.Its not clear whether this refers to the first or the second prayer line?

  • "if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it", sounds like an advice against going "cold turkey" on quitting caffeine :) – Constantthin Feb 10 at 11:49
  • The cross is a two-edged sword. Cutting more than one way. – Constantthin Feb 11 at 23:18
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There is a common theme throughout all of Jesus teachings, that we should seek God's will and ways first and foremost (John 6:38). It is no surprise then, when in His humanity He cried out for the cup to pass from Him, that He dug down deep through the tremendous pressure of the flesh, knowing what was to come and sought God's will first.

I believe the thing He said the same was simply, "Not my will, but Yours be done..." What else needs to be said in life? it is the only thing we need to pray and agree with, His will, His ways, His Kingdom first and foremost.

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There is a textual issue with Matthew 26:44.

In the critical text of the New Testament there is the phrase τὸν αὐτὸν λόγον εἰπὼν πάλιν which states that "he said the same words again" The critical text adds the word πάλιν which means again.

The Byzantine text has the phrase,τὸν αὐτὸν λόγον εἰπών, which would be rendered as he said the same words.

Jesus repeated the same prayer He had given previously in verses 39 and 42. The NIV probably chose the phrase "the same thing" as a general reference since there are slight variations between verses 39 and 42. They did this even though the text has the Greek word λόγον which means words.

By the second part of the question you are generalizing or apply this passage to us. While there is much to concept that the key to life is our willingness to follow the will of God. That is embodied in the model prayer (also called the Lord's prayer) "thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." To do that here you run the danger of missing two very important points: (1) the uniqueness of the situation where he literally sweat drops of blood as the Son of God prepared to go to the cross in a few short hours and He knew what that would mean as He would become our propitiation; (2) to generalize it you also have to take away the other part of His prayer, his desire that the cup would pass away if possible.

Just what Jesus meant by the cup passing from him is probably the most difficult part of the passage. There are a number of interpretations of the phrase that have been put forward, none of them in mind are completely satisfactory. That means they have both strengths and weakness.

I have taken this passage as his commitment to go to the cross because it is at the cross that salvation was made possible. That is why I love Hebrews 12:1-2

Hebrews 12:1-2 1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

By the way the cloud of witnesses were the Old Testament saints who willingly suffered and were persecuted for their faith in God. That is why Hebrews 11 is not a hall of fame. It is a list of people who suffered and the idea is if they can do it so can you. That is also the point of 12:1-3. If Jesus could suffer then we can too in our struggle against sin.

I also think Hebrews 12:1-3 also interprets the garden of Gethsemane. He desired to avoid the cross, which would have been against the Father's will and so he resisted the sin of disobedience till he sweat drops of blood. Hebrews refers to this as "resisted unto blood."

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"... if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.

Jesus is here expressing the will of his flesh (humanity) that an alternative to what he could see ahead might be found. However, he had no desire to oppose his Father's will.

"...if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done."

Jesus is here expressing the submission of his flesh to what has been confirmed by his Spirit, that he must drink the cup.

When Jesus prays for the the third time, it is pretty clear that it was a repetition of his second prayer, that of subordinating his flesh to fulfil his Father's purpose.

The "same thing" could only refer to the nearest of the possibilities, without some qualifier that directs attention to a more distant thing.

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