Mark:921 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”

“From childhood,” he answered. 22“It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

23“ ‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”

24Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

Apparently, if one believes, then it is possible.

Matthew 26:39 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."


Warning #1

We must exercise extreme caution when discussing the will and mind of divinity - the only one who understand s the mind of God is God Himself. If we understood God completely we would be God. The doctrine we are touching on here concerns what is described as the voluntary divine humiliation of Christ. See below.

Warning #2

The human mind and will is obviously quite different and much more limited compared to the divine will. Thus, I do not believe it is immediately possible to use Mark 9:23 to illuminate Matt 26:39.

Voluntary Divine Humiliation

Note that before His incarnation, Jesus enjoyed the full status of divine glory in heaven with God:

  • John 17:5 - And now, Father, glorify Me in Your presence with the glory I had with You before the world existed.
  • John 1:1, 2 - In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.

From this exalted status, Paul describes the greatest humiliation of all time, when Jesus became a human as described in Phil 2:5-8:

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross.

Note that this is clearly a process and decision taken by Jesus with the apparent support of the Father. This is stated again in John 10:17, 18 -

"The reason the Father loves Me is that I lay down My life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from My Father.”

Again, it is emphasized that this was done voluntarily by Jesus. The great struggle that Jesus had in the Garden of Gethsemane was (among other things) to continue to go through with the decision to sacrifice Himself; not only for the great physical agony He knew He would experience but for the emotional and pain created by separation from the Father (Matt 27:46).

Thus, it appears Jesus made a deliberate choice to save humanity despite the personal cost, a very great cost with which He clearly struggled in Gethsemane (Matt 26:38, 39) - even seeking human companionship to help in His time of need (Matt 26:40).

Jesus did not have to do this - He could have abandoned humanity in its sin - or perhaps He was asking God if there were another way to redeem humanity without the terrible cost; BUT His great love for us, and His obedience to the Father's will, made Him decide to go through with this.

The Pulpit Commentary has some useful insights:

Let this cup pass from me. The "cup" is the bitter agony of his Passion and death, with all their grievous accompaniments (see Matthew 20:22, and note there). All heroism and manly endurance in the face of pain and death Christ exhibited to the full; but the elements of suffering in his case were different, and fraught with exquisite torture (see above, on ver. 28). Such was the anguish that it would have then separated soul and body - of such rigour that "his sweat became as it were great drops of blood falling down upon the ground" - had not an angel appeared from heaven to strengthen and support the fainting human life (Luke 22:43, 44). Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. In this prayer are shown the two wills of Christ, the human and Divine. The natural shrinking of the human soul from ignominy and torture is overborne by entire submission to and compliance with the Divine purpose. So it is said that the Captain of our salvation was made perfect through sufferings, learned obedience by the things which he suffered (Hebrews 2:10; Hebrews 5:8) By this passage the Monophysite and Monothelite heresies are clearly refuted, the two natures and two wills of Christ being plainly displayed.


John records, in reference to Jesus:

11He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
John 1:11-13 (NKJ)

John discerns, here, three notions of 'will': that 'of the flesh' and that 'of man', and that 'of God'.

The 'will of the flesh' is the natural inclination of a living being to preserve its life, i.e. by reflex, it will automatically endeavour to adapt to threats upon its existence. This is clearly something that God incorporated in His blueprint of Creation.

The 'will of man' is the spirit that drives a man to deploy his mind and flesh in the pursuit of his desires.

Jesus, the child of Mary's womb -- the man -- had to deal with these forces, as do all men. However, Jesus 'desire' was that the 'will of God' prevail.

The imperative to 'get the job done', for which he came, must have caused him the greatest agony one can ever imagine. Luke gives an inkling of this, when he writes:

44And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
Luke 22:44 (KJV)

Clearly, there is no disharmony between the passages given by the OP. Jesus, the man, compelled by his desire that the 'will of God prevail', concluded that the cup should not pass from him.

The letter to the Hebrews records:

3For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
4Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.

Hebrews 12:3-4 (KJV)

The writer of this letter fully comprehended the anguish of mind and flesh that Jesus had to endure in his journey to the cross.

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