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Jesus manifested God's glory through 8 miraculous signs in the gospel of John. These are a revelation of the feast of tabernacles.
Category - Bible Commentaries
The story of Jesus’ crucifixion, as told by the Apostle John, stands between the seventh and eighth signs. The raising of Lazarus from the dead (i.e., the seventh sign) is obviously connected directly to Jesus’ own death and resurrection, almost as if the resurrection sign comes in two parts, climaxing with Jesus’ resurrection.
Regardless of how we view it, it is clear that Jesus’ prayer in John 17 concludes Jesus’ work of training His disciples, and that John 18 begins the narrative of Jesus’ ultimate purpose for coming to the earth. There is a clear break between these two chapters, symbolized by Jesus’ crossing over the Kidron ravine.
John 18:1 begins,
1 When Jesus had spoken these words, He went forth with His disciples over the ravine of the Kidron, where there was a garden, in which He entered with His disciples.
It appears that Jesus left Jerusalem through the so-called Golden Gate and paused at the stone causeway spanning the Kidron Valley. There He prayed for His disciples in the nearly full moonlight reflecting on the graves and memorials in the valley. Kidron means “dark,” probably a reference to the muddy, “turbid” stream running through the valley during the rains. The root word is kadar, “to be ashy or dark colored, hence, to mourn.” Crossing the ravine marked the point where Jesus began the countdown toward crucifixion.
In mentioning this detail, John also brought to mind the Passover feast itself, wherein the people were told that “when I see the blood, I will pass over you” (Exodus 12:13). The Hebrew word for “pass over” is pesach, but there is another word, avar (or abar) that conveys a similar concept of crossing over or passing over. So we read in 1 Sam. 26:13 that “David crossed over [abar] to the other side and stood on top of the mountain.”
So also we see that a “Hebrew” (Heber, or Eber), derived from abar, is an immigrant who crosses over to another region. I showed in my book, Hebrews: Immigrating from the Old Covenant to the New, that a true Hebrew, in God’s view, is one who is able to cross over into the New Covenant. This too is part of the word picture painted by John as he recalls the disciples crossing over the Kidron to the Mount of Olives.
John omitted many details leading to Jesus’ actual arrest, probably because other evangelists had already recorded those details. John’s purpose was to supplement the Synoptic Gospels and provide a new approach to Jesus’ ministry that focused upon the eight signs. John’s account moves directly to the arrival of the arresting officers, led by Judas. John 18:2, 3 says,
2 Now Judas also, who was betraying Him, knew the place, for Jesus had often met there with His disciples. 3 Judas then, having received the Roman cohort and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, came there with lanterns and torches and weapons.
Matt. 26:30-35 tells us that when they went to the Mount of Olives, Peter boldly announced that he would never betray Jesus, but Jesus told Peter that he would deny Him three times before this night was over. We further read about Jesus’ prayer in the garden of Gethsemane, the “olive press” where Jesus was to become pressed to become the spiritual oil for the lampstand and to become the light of the world.
Mark 14:32, 33 says that Jesus told eight of His disciples to “sit here until I have prayed,” while taking the other three (Peter, James, and John) with Him a little further. Jesus then walked a little further from them, and it was not long before the three had fallen asleep (Mark 14:37, 40).
Luke, “the beloved physician” (Col. 4:14), gives us a medical diagnosis in Luke 22:41-44,
41 And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, 42 saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” 43 Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. 44 And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground.
Here is where Jesus first took upon Himself the penalty for Adam’s sin. It was here that Jesus became mortal, and thus He bled a mixture of sweat and blood in a rare condition called Hematidrosis, from haima, “blood,” and hidros, “sweat.” Sweat is mentioned because it was a sign of the curse in Gen. 3:19, “the sweat of your face.”
Adam’s name means “red, ruddy, showing blood in the face.” To sweat drops of blood is directly related to dam, or “blood.”
The question we must ask is why Jesus was praying in the garden. He had already made it clear that this was His hour of glory. Did Jesus suddenly experience fear? Did He suddenly understand the awfulness of the cross and ask His Father if there was any way to avoid it? What “cup” in Matt. 26:39 did Jesus seek to be removed?
When Jesus was “in agony” (Luke 22:44), why did an angel come to strengthen Him? Fear is not remedied by strength. Strength is needed when one is ill, and, in the end, illness has its roots in mortality.
Hebrews 5:7 reads,
7 In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety [or “reverent submission”].
Hence, we know that Jesus’ prayer was “heard,” that is, answered. He received His request. But what was His request? In the 1930’s a Bible teacher named John Follette was teaching his students about Jesus’ prayer in the garden. One of those students, a man named Normal Folkee, recounted what he had been taught.
Jesus had just become mortal. It was a new experience for Him. He felt His life ebbing from Him. He was becoming weak, dying, in fact, and for this reason the angel came to strengthen Him. As life drained from Jesus’ body, the danger was that He might die before He was able to be put on the cross. As Follette put it,
“He was not asking His Father to save Him from the experience of the Cross, but rather to remove the premature death He was experiencing there in the garden.”
This was why Jesus was “in agony,” rather than being in fear of the cross. He knew that He had been sent to earth for this very purpose. It was His moment of glory. So Jesus prayed that this “cup” would pass—not the cross, but the premature death that threatened to take His life before He could accomplish His purpose in coming to earth. Nevertheless, “not My will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). If Jesus was meant to die in the garden (as Adam himself did in receiving mortality there), then so be it, but Jesus knew that He had to be “lifted up” on the cross.
This was the prayer, made with strong cries and tears, that the Father answered by sending an angel to strengthen Him. Heb. 5:7 said that Jesus prayed to be delivered from death and that God heard His prayer. Jesus was not delivered from the death on the cross but from premature death in the garden.
When Jesus received His answer and was strengthened to continue His predestined path to the cross, Judas arrived with the soldiers “from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders” (Mark 14:43). Judas identified Jesus with the kiss of greeting, Peter drew his short sword and cut off the right ear of the high priest’s servant (slave), Jesus healed the ear, the disciples fled into the night, and Jesus was arrested.