Jesus, while being arrested in the garden, says “the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?”

He's having Peter take his sword back to the sheath, but why would Jesus ask that?

John 18:10-11 (KJV)

Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?

3 Answers 3


All the Evangelists mention the cup which Jesus elected to drain to its last bitter drop. That cup, of course, comprised all the events of what we call "Passion Week," particularly His crucifixion.

While the disciples were arguing about which of them was the greatest, and who should get to sit on the right and the left of Jesus when He established His kingdom on earth, Jesus asked them,

"'Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?' They said to Him, 'We are able'" (Matthew 20:22)

There is little doubt in my mind that the disciples (James and John, the sons of Zebedee) had no idea of what Jesus had in mind when He told them of the cup and the baptism that lay ahead.

In Mark, Jesus also referred to the excruciating death He would soon experience as a baptism:

"'You do not know what you are asking [when you ask to sit at my left and my right in my kingdom]. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?'" (10:38).

Furthermore, just prior to Passion Week, at the point where Jesus set His face as a flint, as it were, going to Jerusalem to be arrested and killed (see Isaiah 50:7 KJV, and Luke 9:51 KJV), Luke tells us

". . . when the time was come that he should be received up, he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem" (my emphasis).

Notice that Luke tells us Jesus was not anticipating His crucifixion as much as He was anticipating His being "received up"; in other words, ascending into heaven! What does Hebrews tell us?

". . . who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" (12:2, my emphasis).

After saying to His Father three times "Your will be done," nothing was going to get in His way of completing the work His Father gave Him to do, not even His own very natural, human desire to bypass such intense suffering; again, only IF the Father were willing to take that cup from Him.

"'Nevertheless, not what I will, but what Thou wilt'" (see Mark 14:36 ff., and Matthew 26:39 ff.).

Evidently, however, Peter had the mistaken notion that physical violence could prevent Jesus from being arrested. His impulsive act of taking a sword and trying to kill someone with it was not Peter's first (or last!) bad decision. Peter was wrong, of course. Once Jesus was arrested, no power on earth could deflect Him from doing what He knew His Father required of Him. I believe that the matter was settled, in fact, in heaven from eternity past (see Ephesians 1:1; 3:11; 1 Peter 1:17-20; and Revelation 13:8 in the NIV), and it was simply confirmed in the Garden of Gethsemane (i.e., the Garden of the olive press!).

"'I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished'" (Luke 12:50).

  • @user2479: You're welcome, I'm sure. Thanks for your words of encouragement. Don Apr 18, 2014 at 14:39
  • @JohnMartin: You're welcome, John. I've since edited my answer a bit by including a few more references. The words "received up" from Luke 9:51 triggered Hebrews 12:2 in my mind. Prior to His death, Jesus took the "long view." Happy Easter, John. Don Apr 18, 2014 at 19:40

Because earlier while Jesus prayed in the garden, Jesus asked His father, God, "If it be thy will let this cup pass from me", in a request that He not have to suffer death on the cross. This was before the incident in the garden where He is arrested and Peter draws His sword. At this point Jesus is referring to the fact that God required Jesus to go as a lamb to the slaughter without conflict. Jesus had to partake of the "cup" of death, which was not allowed to pass from Him. The apostles probably did not understand this immediate reference either, but they did understand the concept of having a cup passed to you and you sharing in it, which was a part of the Jewish custom and part of the Passover.


Peter had witnessed the Lord's anguished cries for the removal of the cup in the olive grove and would resort to violence to fulfill his master's wishes; not fully understanding that His supplication had been resolved in submission to the Father. The conflict had given way to complete composure when His will was completely submerged in His Father's will, not His own. He said in Mark 14:41(ESV), "It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners", in other words,' I am ready; I am fully prepared now to go forward in the Father's will'. Similarly, and in the same context; (Matt. 26:53) "Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?". He would and could receive the cup from His Father. This resolve was not fully grasped in Peter's mind, and so correction was needed.

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  • I cleaned up your answer a little, feel free to reverse the edits if they don't convey your meaning, thank you!
    – Tau
    Jan 20, 2015 at 11:19

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