Speaking Sound Doctrine


The Weakness Of The Jesus

Matthew 26:36-46  Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, "Sit here, while I go over there and pray." 37 And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, "My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me." 39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will." 40 And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping.  And he said to Peter, "So, could you not watch with me one hour? 41 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." 42 Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, "My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done." 43 And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44 So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. 45 Then he came to the disciples and said to them, "Sleep and take your rest later on.  See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners."

Jesus asks the Father if it is possible that the cross might not come to pass (verse 39).  This seems odd, since, in His omniscience, Jesus should know.  Besides, He has repeatedly told His disciples that it was certainly going to happen.  Is Jesus showing weakness here?  How could the God that spoke the universe into existence possibly have any weakness?  In a desire to reject a weakness on the part of Jesus, some have suggested that what Jesus meant was that the cup might pass from Him "quickly."  However, it is condemnable to add to God’s words.  Such an attempt to resolve a perceived contradiction causes us to miss the point: Christ's humanity.

Remember that it is not necessarily a sin to be weak.  Jesus clearly delivers a mild rebuke saying, "Could you not watch with me one hour?"  But when Jesus says, "The flesh is weak" (verse 41), it is not necessarily an indictment against them but a commentary on the nature of the flesh, of which He is then partaking.

John 1:1-14  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made…. 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us….

Philippians 2:5-8  Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

In the flesh, Jesus experiences all the joy and also all the disappointment, sorrow, loss, pain, weakness, and fear that is common to man.

Hebrews 2:9-18  But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. 10 For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering…. 14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil…. 17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Hebrews 5:7, 8  In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death…. 8 Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.

In the garden, Jesus is afraid, just like we would have been.  We dehumanize Him if we deny it.  In severe anguish, His sweat becomes as great drops of blood, and an angel from heaven is sent in order to strengthen Him (Luke 22:43, 44).  Consider the irony that an angel – a created being – is strengthening the Supernal One who created all things.  This is explained by the humanity of Jesus and the innate weakness of the flesh, which is not a character flaw.

Jesus is indeed omniscient; no one gave Him counsel when He created man, but there is something He had no way of knowing without experiencing it: the pain of human scourging and crucifixion.  In verse 8, the original word translated "learned" is MANTHANO {man-than'-o}, and the meaning includes "… learning through … experience" (Friberg).  We therefore cannot say to God that He does not know what it is like to be a man.

Hebrews 4:15  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Hebrews 5:1, 2  For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2 He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness.

How much more this applies to our Great High Priest: the Lamb of God.

In Matthew 26, Jesus is showing a weakness inherent to the flesh, but there is by no means sin or a lack of faith manifested in His words or actions.  Jesus here teaches us by example how to deal with weakness: to pray with submissiveness and fully trust God’s will.  When we feel weak and vulnerable in our struggles, like Jesus, we should pray in faith and surrender everything into the hands of the Father (1 Peter 2:21-23).  Weakness becomes sin only when, lacking faith, we fail to seek God in prayer and grow stronger through it (Hebrews 11:6).  We must never use the weakness of the flesh as an excuse for sinful behavior.

Moreover, since the request of the Son of God is denied – asking that there might be another way – we can be certain that this is the only way He could obtain our redemption.

2 Corinthians 13:4  For he was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God.  For we also are weak in him, but in dealing with you we will live with him by the power of God.

This is a paradox: we have life through death, we have victory through surrender, and we have power through weakness.


Bible quotations herein are from the English Standard Version (2011).

Greek word definitions are from the "Analytical Lexicon to the Greek New Testament," Copyright © 1994, 2000, Timothy and Barbara Friberg.


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