Two questions from a truth-seeking Muslim on the death of Jesus on the cross: DID He die on the cross (which we looked at in Part One), and, if so, WHY did He die on the cross?


[Draft: Jan 24/2010]


I am looking at the Christians are preparing for this Easter. I have known from friends that it was the real Christ on the Cross. But my Muslim friends and our [Muslim] teachings say that He was another man. I trust if the bible says then it is CHRIST

Actually in Muslim faith there are some different stories about crucifixion of Christ. But need to know the reality. Perhaps I need to re read it for better understanding...but it is very important for me to learn about why Christ was crucified. He was able to save himself from the enemies...why did he allow them to beat him and take him to the cross?

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In the first part of the discussion (Part One), we concluded that the Qur’an does not deny the historical crucifixion of Jesus, but only denies that his Jewish enemies were correct in their boasts to have thwarted God by executing/extinguishing His Messenger with finality. And that the Qur’an does point to a historical death of the historical Jesus—and that it was special in the eyes of God.

The Qur’an does not explicitly discuss the meaning of that death—other than as a martyr before God, as with other prophets—and so to understand the meaning of that death we have to look at the pre-Qur’anic revelation/messages of God (i.e. the Hebrew Bible and the Injil).

But we noted this about the Qur’anic portrayal of the death of Jesus—as a mark of His submission to God:

“The Quranic Jesus is one whose words and person were rejected, with all the vehemence of Jewry's will to slay . . . Perhaps we have too long allowed the study of all this to be monopolized by anxious controversy over the sequel (which Heaven knows is urgent enough), yet obscuring all the while the immense Quranic implications antecedent to the Cross.' … So in the Gospel the enemies of Jesus mocked him,' he saved others, himself he cannot save ... He trusted in God, let him deliver him'. (Matt. 27,43). The submission of Jesus to the will of God, 'even unto the death of the cross', is a major clue to the mystery of his suffering. The deep Semitic religious attitude of utter self-surrender to the will of God is here. Jesus is the 'abd, the servant, fully surrendered to God and so truly worshipping him. He is the servant of the servants of God, who 'came not to be ministered unto but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many'. He is the Suffering Servant, 'despised and rejected of men'. He is the Son of Man, the Messiah, truly human, yet exalted, for ' God raised him to himself.” [WR:JIQ, 119-121]

And so now we look (here in Part Two) for information about why Jesus/Isa allowed himself to be mistreated/killed, since he did not actually have to.

Although we will soon look at the implications of the Qur’anic statement that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah (as pre-described in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament), we will have to first look at the pre-Quranic Injil for explicit statements by Jesus about these matters.


First, let’s look at the passages in which Jesus predicted (over and over) that His earthly life would involve suffering/shame/death at the hands of those who opposed Him, and his subsequent exaltation by God in resurrection.

Jesus predicts His definite (not merely 'possible') rejection by the Jews, and mistreatment and death at the hands of the Gentiles in many, many passages in the Injil. Some of these are parallels to other passages, but many of them indicate that Jesus predicted this outcome from the very early days of His public ministry.

Let’s go through some of these and make some observations:

Matthew 16.21:

From that time Jesus Christ began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.” [Note: suffering, killed, resurrection; this was in God's interest for this to happen to Jesus, for some reason; He taught this over a period of time--beginning from this incident.]

Matthew 17.22:

And while they were gathering together in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men; and they will kill Him, and He will be raised on the third day.” And they were deeply grieved. [Note: delivered over, killed, resurrection]

Matthew 20.17:

And as Jesus was about to go up to Jerusalem, He took the twelve disciples aside by themselves, and on the way He said to them, 18 “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem; and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn Him to death, and will deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and scourge and crucify Him, and on the third day He will be raised up.” [Note: delivered over to Jewish leaders, a judicial condemnation to execution, delivered over to Gentiles, mock, scourge with a whip, crucifixion, resurrection.]

Mark 8.31:

And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. And He was stating the matter plainly. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. But turning around and seeing His disciples, He rebuked Peter, and said, “Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.” And He summoned the multitude with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. “For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s shall save it. “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? “For what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” [Note: suffer, rejection, killed, rise, taking up of Cross; His acceptance of His crucifixion is actually set up as a model for His followers to emulate.]

Mark 9.30:

And from there they went out and began to go through Galilee, and He was unwilling for anyone to know about it. For He was teaching His disciples and telling them, “The Son of Man is to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him; and when He has been killed, He will rise three days later.” But they did not understand this statement, and they were afraid to ask Him. [Note: teaching, delivered, kill, rise again]

Mark 10.32:

And they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking on ahead of them; and they were amazed, and those who followed were fearful. And again He took the twelve aside and began to tell them what was going to happen to Him, saying, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, and will deliver Him to the Gentiles. “And they will mock Him and spit upon Him, and scourge Him, and kill Him, and three days later He will rise again.” [Note: delivered, condemn to death, mock, spit, scourge, kill, rise again]

Luke 9.18:

And it came about that while He was praying alone, the disciples were with Him, and He questioned them, saying, “Who do the multitudes say that I am?” And they answered and said, “John the Baptist, and others say Elijah; but others, that one of the prophets of old has risen again.” And He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered and said, “The Christ of God.” But He warned them, and instructed them not to tell this to anyone, saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day.” [Note: suffering, rejected by Jewish leadership, killed, raised up]

Luke 18.31:

And He took the twelve aside and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things which are written through the prophets about the Son of Man will be accomplished.For He will be delivered to the Gentiles, and will be mocked and mistreated and spit upon, and after they have scourged Him, they will kill Him; and the third day He will rise again.” And they understood none of these things, and this saying was hidden from them, and they did not comprehend the things that were said. [Note: the shameful rejection and killing of Jesus was predicted in the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible; delivered, mocked, mistreated, spit upon, scourged, killed, risen]

John 2.18:

What sign do You show to us, seeing that You do these things?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews therefore said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” But He was speaking of the temple of His body. When therefore He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture, and the word which Jesus had spoken. [Note: destruction of the body and resurrection.]

There are other passages (which we will look at below) which discuss other aspects of these predictions, but I wanted to demonstrate early that Jesus was not surprised by this--it was known to him in complete detail from the beginning.

Of course, the fact that prophets and messengers from God are (often) persecuted, resisted, rejected, and even sometimes killed is also affirmed in the Hebrew Bible and the Qur'an:

“To the assertion that the denial of the crucifixion is in 'perfect agreement with the logic of the Kur'an', it need hardly be pointed out that while it may indeed be '"God's practice" ... to make faith triumph finally over the forces of evil and adversity', it is also obvious that this triumph may have a more mysterious character than Jesus' putative and chance escape - however exciting - from his misguided opponents. After all, Jesus the prophet, as demonstrated above, is among those in the Qur'an who are vulnerable to physical death, e.g. Muhammad (7:28), Moses (7:155) and Yahya (John the Baptist) (19:15). Moreover, a distinctive characteristic of Qur'anic prophethood is the unremitting opposition that greets those upon whom it is bestowed. That this opposition frequently ends in the murder of a prophet is well known (e.g. 2:61; 2:87; 2:91; 3:21; 3:183; 4:155[!]). [WR:CAQ, 41f]


Here are the passages from the Qur'an mentioned above:

And remember ye said: “O Moses! We cannot endure one kind of food (always); so beseech thy Lord for us to produce for us of what the earth groweth—its pot-herbs, and cucumbers, its garlic, lentils, and onions.” He said: “Will ye exchange the better for the worse? Go ye down to any town, and ye shall find what ye want!” They were covered with humiliation and misery; they drew on themselves the wrath of Allah. This because they went on rejecting the Signs of Allah and slaying His Messengers without just cause. This because they rebelled and went on transgressing. (Surah 2:61).

We gave Moses the Book and followed him up with a succession of apostles; We gave Jesus the son of Mary Clear (Signs) and strengthened him with the holy spirit. Is it that whenever there comes to you an apostle with what ye yourselves desire not, ye are puffed up with pride?—Some ye called impostors, and others ye slay! (Surah 2:87).

When it is said to them, “Believe in what Allah Hath sent down,” they say, “We believe in what was sent down to us”; yet they reject all besides, even if it be Truth confirming what is with them. Say: “Why then have ye slain the prophets of Allah in times gone by, if ye did indeed believe?” (Surah 2:91).

As to those who deny the Signs of Allah and in defiance of right, slay the prophets, and slay those who teach just dealing with mankind, announce to them a grievous penalty. (Surah 3:21).

They (also) said: “Allah took our promise not to believe in an apostle unless He showed us a sacrifice consumed by Fire (From heaven).” Say: “There came to you apostles before me, with clear Signs and even with what ye ask for: why then did ye slay them, if ye speak the truth?”(Surah 3:183).

(They have incurred divine displeasure): In that they broke their covenant; that they rejected the signs of Allah; that they slew the Messengers in defiance of right; that they said, “Our hearts are the wrappings (which preserve Allah’s Word; We need no more)”—Nay, Allah hath set the seal on their hearts for their blasphemy, and little is it they believe— (Surah 4:155).

And the rejection, mistreatment, and (sometimes) slaying of prophets in the Hebrew Bible can be noted too:

Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he began to reign; he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. 12 He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord his God. He did not humble himself before the prophet Jeremiah who spoke from the mouth of the Lord. 13 He also rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him swear by God; he stiffened his neck and hardened his heart against turning to the Lord, the God of Israel. 14 All the leading priests and the people also were exceedingly unfaithful, following all the abominations of the nations; and they polluted the house of the Lord that he had consecrated in Jerusalem. 15 The Lord, the God of their ancestors, sent persistently to them by his messengers, because he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling place; 16 but they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words, and scoffing at his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord against his people became so great that there was no remedy. (2 Ch 36:11-16, NRSV)

As Jesus noted Himself during His days on earth:

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous, 30 and you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 Thus you testify against yourselves that you are descendants of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your ancestors. 33 You snakes, you brood of vipers! How can you escape being sentenced to hell? 34 Therefore I send you prophets, sages, and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town, 35 so that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. (Mt 23:29-35, NRSV)

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 38 See, your house is left to you, desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’ ” (Mt 23:37-39, NRSV).

But in our case, we have Jesus clearly and consistently teaching that His shameful execution will definitely occur.

Second, let’s notice the statements which show that Jesus was not a victim—that He was in control of His destiny (under obedience to God), and that no one killed him (in spite of what they might have thought).

We noted in our discussion of Sura 4.157 that the Jewish opponents of Jesus boasted that they had thwarted the will of God by crucifying Jesus, but that it was NOT they who actually accomplished the death of Jesus, but only God Himself. We will see that now in the passages where Jesus has authority over His own life, death, and resurrection from the dead.

And we will see that He had virtually all spiritual forces at His command—to stop the process had He chosen to—but that He voluntarily chose the path that led to the Cross instead.

First, the Gospel of John 10.11-18:

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.

No one takes it away from me” may be a reference to past attempts at taking Jesus’ life (5:18; 7:25; 8:59) or to his future death and resurrection, or both. “I have the power to lay it down, and I have the power to take it up again” bears a striking resemblance to Pilate’s words in 19:10. The statement is in keeping with the evangelist’s consistent effort to portray Jesus being in charge throughout the events surrounding the crucifixion. It also highlights Jesus’ power over life and death. Though more frequently it is God the Father who is credited with raising Jesus from the dead, the NT also teaches that Jesus himself “rose” (active or middle voice [e.g., Matt. 27:63]).Köstenberger, A. J. (2004). John. Baker exegetical commentary on the New Testament (307). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic]

"Nowhere is John’s view of Jesus as in complete command of every situation brought out more strongly than here. The Lord’s death does not take place as the result of misadventure or the might of his foes or the like. No one takes his life from him. Far from this being the case, he himself lays it down, and does so completely of his own volition. He claims authority both to lay down his life and to take it again. And, characteristically, the whole is linked with the Father. He gave commandment to this effect, and Jesus accordingly is simply doing his will." [Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel According to John. The New International Commentary on the New Testament (456). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.]

"10:17-18. Again Jesus predicted His death, saying four times that He would voluntarily lay down His life (vv. 11, 14, 17-18). The Father has a special love for Jesus because of His sacrificial obedience to the will of God. Jesus predicted His resurrection twice (He would take . . . up His life again [vv. 17-18]) and His sovereignty (authority) over His own destiny. His death was wholly voluntary: No one takes it from Me. Jesus was not a helpless pawn on history’s chessboard." [Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1983-c1985). The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures (311). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.]

Then John 2.18:

What sign do You show to us, seeing that You do these things?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews therefore said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” But He was speaking of the temple of His body. When therefore He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture, and the word which Jesus had spoken. [Note: Jesus will raise His body to life Himself.]

And then the passage in which Jesus chose not to invoke angelic military power to stop His crucifixion: Gospel of Matthew 26.47:

And while He was still speaking, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, came up, accompanied by a great multitude with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and elders of the people. Now he who was betraying Him gave them a sign, saying, “Whomever I shall kiss, He is the one; seize Him.” And immediately he went to Jesus and said, “Hail, Rabbi!” and kissed Him. And Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you have come for.” Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and seized Him. And behold, one of those who were with Jesus reached and drew out his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest, and cut off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword. “Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?How then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen this way?

"If resistance were the right thing, Jesus had no need of swords or human assistance (cf. John 18:36, where Jesus denies any present claims that would justify violence). He makes the statement, in the form of a rhetorical question, that supernatural help is available to him at just a word to his Father. More than “twelve legions of angels,” is an enormous number (a legion of Roman troops amounted to about six thousand; thus here more than 72,000 angels!), but exactitude is no concern and the number twelve has obvious symbolic connotations.... Again we see that Jesus’ obedience to the will of the Father is not a matter of compulsion but of a free yielding to that will (cf. vv 39, 42). Even at this late moment all could be aborted, but then the scriptures would remain unfulfilled." [Hagner, D. A. (2002). Vol. 33B: Word Biblical Commentary : Matthew 14-28. Word Biblical Commentary (789). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.]

"The reference to an enormous host of supernatural warriors, which reference reveals Jesus’ majesty and control, mocks the far from mortal sword thrust of the sole unnamed disciple.... that angels are at Jesus’ disposal is clear from 4:11; 13:41; 16:27; and 25:31. ... Angels, popularly divided in Judaism into numbers and ranks, are sometimes warriors in the biblical tradition, where they can fight with or on behalf of the saints. Often they have swords. That the legions of angels which the Son can command—this is practical omnipotence—are twelve likely adverts to the twelve disciples (so already Jerome): Jesus, who has just rejected armed intervention by the twelve, and who long ago rejected angelic intervention (4:5–7), now rejects assistance from twelve legions of angels. ‘Twelve sword-wielding disciples or twelve legions of angels are equally unacceptable if they hinder Jesus’ obedience to the command of the Father and the fulfillment of Scripture’." [Davies, W. D., & Allison, D. C. (2004). A critical and exegetical commentary on the Gospel according to Saint Matthew (513). London; New York: T&T Clark International.]

"Physical resistance was not only wrong in principle but also unnecessary, since Jesus had far more force at his disposal, if he chose to summon it, than a few human supporters could offer. Angels are available to help God’s people in need (see 4:6, quoting Ps 91:11–12; also 4:11), and are envisaged in military terms in the OT phrase “the host (army) of heaven,” (1 Kgs 22:19) and especially in the angelic armies led by Michael in Dan 10:13, 20–21; 12:1; Rev 12:7. The idea of angels fighting for the cause of God and his people is prominent in the Qumran literature. While “legions” here might be understood primarily as a term for vast numbers (there were 6,000 men in a Roman legion), the choice of such a military term in connection with defense against an armed posse is surely deliberate. If there is to be fighting, it is to be done by supernatural forces, not by human volunteers. But Jesus will not ask his Father for such help because he now knows what is his Father’s will. Indeed he had known it already, even before the struggle in Gethsemane, because his fate was already prescribed in “the scriptures.” The reference may be especially to Zech 13:7–9, just quoted in v. 31, but the plural term suggests the wider scriptural motif to which he has referred in v. 24, and which we considered above in relation to the statement in 16:21 that his suffering was “necessary.” Verse 54 is rather awkwardly connected with what precedes by a “therefore” where we might have expected “but in that case:” the two preceding scenarios of human or angelic resistance would equally have prevented the working out of God’s declared purpose. [France, R. T. (2007). The Gospel of Matthew. The New International Commentary on the New Testament (1014). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publication Co.]

It is clear from the Injil, therefore, that Jesus was not a victim--that He knew of His shameful death ahead of time, that He voluntarily laid down His life (no one killed or crucified Him, against His will and against God's purpose), and He could have overthrown by force any and all of His enemies--had He chosen to.

But He did not. He accepted this death as a 'commandment' from God the Father. It was, after all, God's will for Jesus and for God's purposes through Jesus.


Third, we also should note the passages in which Jesus explicitly identifies the path of suffering and death with the will of God, and which affirm that God was completely in control of the events leading up to, including, and subsequent to the Crucifixion.

We have already noted Jesus' rebuke of Peter, in which He pointed out that the Cross was in "God's interest". And exegetes and commentators note this 'will of God' theme in most of the passages we have already looked at, as well as in others we will look at later:

"Throughout the [Good Shepherd] discourse the thought that Jesus will lay down his life recurs (vv. 11 and 15). Here it is given as the reason for the Father’s loving the Son. One might have expected rather the thought that the Father loves the Son for what he is and that this leads to the cross (cf. 3:16). But the meaning here is that the death of Jesus is the will of God for him. And because he is in perfect harmony with the will of God he goes forward to that death. Thus the Father’s love is the recognition from the Father’s side of the perfect community between them in this matter. With the death is linked the thought of the resurrection. Christ dies in order that he may rise again. The death is not defeat but victory. It is inseparable from the resurrection." [Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel According to John. The New International Commentary on the New Testament (456). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.]

"Again we see that Jesus’ obedience to the will of the Father is not a matter of compulsion but of a free yielding to that will (cf. vv 39, 42). Even at this late moment all could be aborted [note: by the calling forth of the angels], but then the scriptures would remain unfulfilled." [Hagner, D. A. (2002). Vol. 33B: Word Biblical Commentary : Matthew 14-28. Word Biblical Commentary (789). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.]

Even in the passages in which Jesus expresses terror and anguish over His coming death, He remains completely committed to doing the will of God. [We will see later in this study why the Cross was such an object of terror and pain for His holy soul.]

Here are the passages in which Jesus expresses His anguish and distress over His coming crucifixion:

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.5 See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.” (Mt 26:36-46).

And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. 34 And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.”4 35 And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. 36 And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will..” (Mk 14:32-42).

And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. 40 And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” 41 And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” 43 And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. 44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. 45 And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, 46 and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” (Lk 22:39-46).

Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” (Jn 12:27-28).


"Jesus then prays that “if it is possible,” he might not have to go the way of the cross. This conditioning of the prayer with “if it is possible” becomes more specific in the final clause of the prayer, “but not as I will, but as you (will)” (cf. v. 42). The governing reality then is not the will of Jesus, who would avoid what lies ahead, but the will of God, who is fixed in his intent to accomplish salvation for the world through the death of his Son (cf. John 6:38; 4:34). In actuality, if the will of the Father is done, it is not possible to avoid the cross. [Hagner, D. A. (2002). Vol. 33B: Word Biblical Commentary : Matthew 14-28. Word Biblical Commentary (783). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.]

"Jesus goes a little farther in order to pray alone, as he himself has ordered (cf. 6:4–6) and also did himself (cf. 14:23). He falls on his face, not as an expression of deepest despair but in the same way Abraham did when he spoke with God (Gen 17:3, 17; cf. Num 22:31; 1 Kgs 18:39; Dan 8:17). Thus Jesus is not only desperate; he is at the same time pious. He prays, although he has predicted frequently that the Son of Man must suffer. In the biblical view such prayers are not meaningless, for God is not a rigid fate; he is free and is even ready to change his mind. From the very beginning Jesus makes his request to his Father with a reservation: “if possible” . The following clause explains what that means: “But” it is God’s will and not Jesus’ will that should be done. It is not only the address “my Father” but also this reservation that reminds the readers of the Lord’s Prayer (6:9–10)." [Luz, U., & Koester, H. (2005). Matthew 21-28: A commentary. Translation of: Das Evangelium nach Matthaus.; Vol. 3 translated by James E. Crouch ; edited by Helmut Koester.; Vol. 3 published by Fortress Press. (396). Minneapolis: Augsburg.]

"The specific (and ultimately unsuccessful) request is expressed as the removal of 'this cup', and its removal is not now the impersonal 'might pass from' of v. 35, but the direct action of the Father in taking it away ('take away from'). The image of the cup of suffering and judgment is familiar from 10:38–39. It is that metaphorical usage which provides the background for Jesus’ prayer rather than the cup of v. 23, which was a literal cup, however symbolic its contents became, and was offered to the disciples to drink, not given to Jesus. The fact that the cup of suffering is pictured as being given to Jesus by his Father (who is thus able also to take it away) strikingly expresses the conviction which underlies Mark’s narrative of the passion, that God controls the whole process culminating in Jesus’ death. At the same time the fact that Jesus, who in 10:38–39 could speak with apparent calm of the cup in store for him, is now so appalled at the prospect that he begs to be rid of it vividly conveys the reality and human cost of that passion. This is in strong contrast with idealised portrayals of martyrs who go gladly to their death. The Jesus who accepts his Father’s will does not do so with a ‘docetic’ indifference but with a mental as well as physical agony which will reach its horrifying climax in the cry from the cross in 15:34. [France, R. T. (2002). The Gospel of Mark : A commentary on the Greek text (583). Grand Rapids, Mich.; Carlisle: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press.]

(Notice how this fits well with the 'sovereignty' interpretation of Q4.157, in which it was God who willed and caused the death/crucifixion of Jesus--in spite of the boast of His enemies. See Part One of this series).

Strictly speaking, Jesus allowed Himself to be mistreated and executed, because it was the will of God for His life/ministry/death. This is clearly the understanding that Jesus reveals in the Injil.


Fourth, we come to the heart of the matter: Jesus accepted the shame, suffering, and death at the hands of his enemies because of His complete (and unique!) obedience to God. His complete submission to God’s will—unique among men as the sinless one—resulted in His acceptance of the horrors of the Cross. God was in complete control over those events--in His sovereignty--and Jesus was a part of that plan of God.

We have already seen numerous statements to this effect, but let us consider them again and reflect on other statements too:

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” [Gospel of John 10.17ff]

"John 10:17–18 continues and further explicates the thought of 10:15. There is no need to suppose that Jesus gained the Father’s approval by sacrificing his life. Rather, his sacrifice is in obedience to the Father’s command ). The repeated reference to Jesus’ sacrifice in 10:11–18 makes this the focal point of the characterization of the “good shepherd.” [Köstenberger, A. J. (2004). John. Baker exegetical commentary on the New Testament (307). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic.

"Again we see that Jesus’ obedience to the will of the Father is not a matter of compulsion but of a free yielding to that will (cf. vv 39, 42). Even at this late moment all could be aborted, but then the scriptures would remain unfulfilled." [Hagner, D. A. (2002). Vol. 33B: Word Biblical Commentary : Matthew 14-28. Word Biblical Commentary (789). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.]

"Again Jesus begins his prayer with the words “my Father,” asks that “this (cup),” might pass, and conditions his prayer with the now negative “if not possible”—reflecting a further stage of resignation—as well as the direct “may your will be done” (cf. the petition in 6:10; Acts 21:14). The acceptance of God’s will shows Jesus as one who is strong in his obedience, and thus Jesus is portrayed only positively in this pericope .[Hagner, D. A. (2002). Vol. 33B: Word Biblical Commentary : Matthew 14-28. Word Biblical Commentary (784). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.]

"42–43 Jesus goes away to pray a second time. The wording of his prayer in v. 42 goes beyond v. 39 in two points. First, he now recognized that the cup of his death cannot pass him by but that he must drink it. Therefore what he still asks is only that God’s will be fulfilled. Thus obedience is emphasized more strongly. Second, the “not as I will but as you” is now newly formulated exactly with the words of the third petition of the Lord’s Prayer, Matt 6:10b. Thus Jesus prays as an example, just as he has taught his disciples. [Luz, U., & Koester, H. (2005). Matthew 21-28: A commentary. Translation of: Das Evangelium nach Matthaus.; Vol. 3 translated by James E. Crouch ; edited by Helmut Koester.; Vol. 3 published by Fortress Press. (397). Minneapolis: Augsburg.]

"Third, in v.53 Jesus adds an additional reason in the form of a rhetorical question. It heightens Jesus’ dignity just when he is being arrested. Jesus is seen as an all-powerful person who through his heavenly father “can” do everything, much as in 26:61. He could ask him for more than twelve legions of angels. In those days a legion had a required strength of 5,600 men; the emperor’s entire standing army consisted of 25 legions. Thus Jesus could summon almost 70,000 angels to his aid. Instead of doing so, however, he refuses to demonstrate his might. That is reminiscent of the second temptation in 4:5–7, when Jesus had refused to call on the support of angels, did not cast himself down from the pinnacle of the temple, and did not demonstrate his might. In obedience to God’s will the Son of God, to whom all dominion is given in heaven and on earth, refuses to demonstrate his power. Fourth, Jesus ends his brief speech to the disciples with a reference to the fulfillment of Scripture. Much as in 12:26 and 22:43, “how then” introduces a question to which the hearers themselves must give the answer. The meaning of the subjunctive aorist, which occasionally appears after such deliberative questions, must be supplemented: “How could the scriptures be fulfilled if I did not obey the will of God and if I were to summon armies of angels?” “That it must be so” refers to the plan of God without referring to a particular passage of Scripture. Thus the meaning is: if Jesus does not obey the will of God and if he brings about a divine demonstration of power, the Scriptures that bear witness to God’s plan cannot be fulfilled." [Luz, U., & Koester, H. (2005). Matthew 21-28: A commentary. Translation of: Das Evangelium nach Matthaus.; Vol. 3 translated by James E. Crouch ; edited by Helmut Koester.; Vol. 3 published by Fortress Press. (420). Minneapolis: Augsburg.]

"It was that aspect of his suffering, not merely the physical pain and death in themselves, that most distressed him; perhaps we should understand that in speaking of the cup (of God’s anger) he was already aware of the coming separation from his Father which 27:46 will so graphically describe. That is something he simply does not want to have to go through, but the clause “if it is possible” already recognizes the conflict between his natural revulsion and the purpose of his Father, and the concluding clause, “not as I wish but as you wish,” makes it plain where his ultimate loyalty lies. There is no question of his refusing the will of God once it is clear that there is no “Plan B.” Jesus’ repeated predictions of his death, and his statement in vv. 24 and 31 that this is to happen “as it is written,” show that he was already well aware of his Father’s will; what is happening in Gethsemane is not the discovery of this as a new fact, but the need to come to terms in emotion and will with what he has already known in theory." [France, R. T. (2007). The Gospel of Matthew. The New International Commentary on the New Testament (1004). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publication Co.]

"42 The second prayer is not simply a repeat of the first.22 It suggests that Jesus now knows the answer to the request of v. 39, and has accepted that no alternative is possible. In that case there can be only one course for Jesus to take: “Let your will be done.” This is the third echo in this pericope of the wording of the Lord’s Prayer (6:10), and shows that Jesus not only instructs his disciples in how to pray but himself follows the same principle. When we realize the profound consequences of such a prayer for Jesus in Gethsemane, it gives added solemnity to our own use of the words he taught his disciples. From this point on there will be no further indication of reluctance on Jesus’ part to fulfill his God-given role until the cry of 27:46 when Jesus has already accepted and implemented his Father’s will. He will not resist arrest (even though he could easily have done so, vv. 53–54) and at his trials he will offer no defense (26:62–63; 27:13–14), but rather a defiant declaration which will hasten his condemnation (26:64). In Gethsemane the die has been cast." [France, R. T. (2007). The Gospel of Matthew. The New International Commentary on the New Testament (1006). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publication Co.]

"The complete surrender of the Son in patient obedience to the Father, expressed in Abba, is affirmed in the words which qualify the prayer: “if it is possible” (verse 35) and “not what I will, but rather what you will” (verse 36). Jesus’ desire was conditioned upon the will of God, and he resolutely refused to set his will in opposition to the will of the Father. Fully conscious that his mission entailed submission to the horror of the holy wrath of God against human sin and rebellion, the will of Jesus clasped the transcendentally lofty and sacred will of God.85" [Lane, W. L. (1974). The Gospel of Mark. The New International Commentary on the New Testament (517). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.]

"27 The soul of Jesus “went into turmoil”... The sentence, “Father, save me from this hour,” should not be weakened through reading it as a question, as though Jesus refused to pray it; rather it should be read with a pause, and understood as expressing what Jesus really wanted to pray; hence it is a genuine prayer utterance. Jesus, in turmoil of spirit, shrinks from the fearful experience before him, and in his address to God seeks avoidance of it; yet he acknowledges that to endure it is the reason for his mission from God; in an act therefore of total obedience to the Father’s will his spirit rises in unreserved affirmation, “Father, glorify your name.” " [Beasley-Murray, G. R. (2002). Vol. 36: Word Biblical Commentary : John. Word Biblical Commentary (212). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.]

"The ultimate sentiment of “What shall I say: ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this very reason I came to this hour!” matches Jesus’ attitude in the Synoptic accounts of Gethsemane (Matt. 26:39, 42). The deliberative subjunctive (eipō, shall I say) and the strong adversative (alla, but) both point “to a hypothetical rather than an actual prayer” that Jesus considers praying but rejects, expressing the “natural human shrinking from death”. The saying underscores the genuineness of Jesus’ humanity and points to his substitutionary sacrifice (2 Cor. 5:21). Jesus’ unequivocal response, “Father, glorify your name!” is in keeping with both OT theology, in which the glory of God is the ultimate goal of his salvific actions, and the Fourth Evangelist’s depiction of Jesus’ motivation underlying his entire ministry (7:18; 8:29, 49–50). In particular, God is glorified by the Son’s obedience (10:17) and by his exercise of delegated authority (14:13; 17:1b–2). Yet, though the ultimate object of glorification is the Father’s name, this name is inextricably tied to the salvation-historical purposes pursued by the Father, supremely in and through his Son (Ridderbos 1997: 436)." [Köstenberger, A. J. (2004). John. Baker exegetical commentary on the New Testament (380). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic.]

Jesus consistently portrays the Crucifixion as the will of God the Father for Him, as something He Himself voluntarily accepted, and as an act of supreme obedience to God. He was fully submitted to the will of God--whatever the personal cost.


Fifth, this submission to God is sometimes described as His obedience to God’s will as recorded in the prophetic Scriptures of Israel.

These pre-Quranic Scriptures (both Old and New Testaments) are consistently upheld as authoritative in the Qur’an. For example:

We have sent revelation to you [Prophet] as We did Noah and the prophets after him, to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, to Jesus, Job, Jonah, Aaron, and Solomon [4.163]

So if you [Prophet] are in doubt about what We have revealed to you, ask those who have been reading the scriptures before you. [10.94]

We sent Jesus son of Mary in their footsteps, to confirm the Torah that had been sent before him: We gave him the Gospel with guidance, light, and confirmation of the Torah already revealed--a guide and lesson for those who take heed of God. So let the followers of the Gospel judge according to what God has sent down in it. Those who do not judge according to what God has revealed are lawbreakers. [5:46f]

Say, 'People of the Book', you have no true basis [for your religion] unless you uphold the Torah, the Gospel, and that which has been sent down to you from your Lord" [6.68]

So, [you believers] say: “We believe in God, and in what was sent down to us and what was sent down to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and what was given to Moses and Jesus, and all the prophets by their Lord: We make no difference between one and another of them: And we bow to Allah (in Islam).” [2:136]

You who believe, believe in God and His Messenger and in the scripture He sent down to His Messenger, as well as what He sent down before. Anyone who does not believe in God, His angels, His Scriptures [plural], His messengers, and the Last Day has gone far, far astray. [4:136]


[Note: some later Muslim teachers began to teach that God allowed His earlier Scriptures to be massively corrupted/changed by Jews and Christians--but there is not a single clear reference to such corruption of the Books in the Qur'an and there is only one possible passage in all of the massive Sahih of al-Bukhari (i.e. hadith). There are several references to Jews or Christians deliberately misinterpreting and misrepresenting those Scriptures, but in no passage does it say that they altered the existing canonicl texts of God's revelation. We will discuss this accusation of corruption (tahrif) in a later article, but here is a summary statement from a scholarly source: "There are many different ways to tamper. At least, this is the message of the earliest Muslim commentaries on the Qur'an. When these commentaries explained the verses which are most frequently used to support the Islamic doctrine of the corruption of previous scriptures, they portrayed a lively variety of actions by the People of the Book in response to the claims of Islam. Only rarely did these actions include falsification of the scriptures in their possession. ... By contrast, later Muslim polemicists made the case that the tampering referred to in the Qur'an is mainly of one kind—the corruption or deliberate falsification of texts. This is also reflected in some of the Western scholarly treatments of the materials related to this theme in the Qur'an. And indeed, this is what is heard most often in Muslim-Christian conversation today. ... Muslim polemicists and scholars of Islam alike commonly refer to a series of verses in the Qur'an when they discuss the doctrine of tahrif. A total of 25 verses from the Qur'an are associated with the accusation. These may be called the 'tampering' verses because tampering is an elastic term which can include a wide variety of actions. As the evidence below will show, tahrif for the early commentators did not mean what it came to mean" ("Early Muslim Accusations of Tahrif: Muqatil Ibm Sulayman's Commentary on Key Qur'anic Verses", by Gordon Nickel, in The Bile in Arab Christianity, David Thomas (ed), Brill:2007, p.207).]

So, the pre-Quranic revelations (especially the Hebrew Bible and New Testament) are to be used as a source of accurate knowledge about God's actions and will.

Here are a couple of passages in which Jesus teaches that His betrayal, suffering, and execution were predicted in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament:

And He took the twelve aside and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things which are written through the prophets about the Son of Man will be accomplished. “For He will be delivered to the Gentiles, and will be mocked and mistreated and spit upon, and after they have scourged Him, they will kill Him; and the third day He will rise again.” And they understood none of these things, and this saying was hidden from them, and they did not comprehend the things that were said. (Lk 18:31).

And while He was still speaking, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, came up, accompanied by a great multitude with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and elders of the people. Now he who was betraying Him gave them a sign, saying, “Whomever I shall kiss, He is the one; seize Him.” And immediately he went to Jesus and said, “Hail, Rabbi!” and kissed Him. And Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you have come for.” Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and seized Him. And behold, one of those who were with Jesus reached and drew out his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest, and cut off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword. “Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? “How then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen this way?” (Matthew 27.39ff?)

“Again we see that Jesus’ obedience to the will of the Father is not a matter of compulsion but of a free yielding to that will (cf. vv 39, 42). Even at this late moment all could be aborted, but then the scriptures would remain unfulfilled. It is implied in v. 54 that if the scriptures are not fulfilled, the very faithfulness of God could be called into question. The scriptures state that “thus it must be” (“it must,” reflecting divine necessity, is used in reference to the death of Jesus in 16:21; cf. related uses in 17:10; 24:6; the same construction is found in the LXX of Dan 2:28–29; 2:45 [Theod.]). God has ordained that things should be thus and since “the scriptures,” reflect the will of God, they must be fulfilled. This same point is stressed again in v. 56. Thus the emphasis on the fulfillment of scripture is important in Matthew generally but also in connection with the death of Jesus specifically. [Hagner, D. A. (2002). Vol. 33B: Word Biblical Commentary : Matthew 14-28. Word Biblical Commentary (789). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.]

“If there is to be fighting, it is to be done by supernatural forces, not by human volunteers. But Jesus will not ask his Father for such help because he now knows what is his Father’s will. Indeed he had known it already, even before the struggle in Gethsemane, because his fate was already prescribed in “the scriptures.” The reference may be especially to Zech 13:7–9, just quoted in v. 31, but the plural term suggests the wider scriptural motif to which he has referred in v. 24, and which we considered above in relation to the statement in 16:21 that his suffering was “necessary.” [France, R. T. (2007). The Gospel of Matthew. The New International Commentary on the New Testament (1014). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publication Co.]

We will look at the predictions of the Messiah’s sufferings in the next article in this series, but here’s a summary statement about it:

The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. Young David, first shepherd, then king, literally risked his life for his sheep (1 Sam. 17:34–37; cf. Sir. 47:3). The phrase “to lay down one’s life” is rare in Greek and may reflect the Hebrew idiom “to hand over one’s life.” Several OT passages hint at the Messiah’s self-sacrifice (see esp. Isa. 53:12). In a cluster of messianic references (see Mark 14:27; John 19:37; Rev. 1:7), Zechariah refers to a figure who is “pierced” and for whom people mourn, a shepherd who is put to death and whose death brings about a turning point (Zech. 12:10; 13:7–9).” Köstenberger, A. J. (2004). John. Baker exegetical commentary on the New Testament (305). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic.


Sixth, the content of this will of God for Jesus was described in very strongly unpleasant terms: rejection, the 'cup', the 'hour', suffering, shame, and even terror. This was not the calm death of a martyr--this was something somehow much more horrible.

We will look at the terms Jesus used for this experience and seek to understand the content of those terms.

He spoke explicitly of rejection:

And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. And He was stating the matter plainly. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. But turning around and seeing His disciples, He rebuked Peter, and said, “Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.” And He summoned the multitude with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. “For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s shall save it. “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? “For what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” [Mark 8:31

And it came about that while He was praying alone, the disciples were with Him, and He questioned them, saying, “Who do the multitudes say that I am?” And they answered and said, “John the Baptist, and others say Elijah; but others, that one of the prophets of old has risen again.” And He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered and said, “The Christ of God.” But He warned them, and instructed them not to tell this to anyone, saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day.” [Luke 9:18]

He spoke of mockery and shameful abuse:

And as Jesus was about to go up to Jerusalem, He took the twelve disciples aside by themselves, and on the way He said to them, 18 “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem; and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn Him to death, and will deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and scourge and crucify Him, and on the third day He will be raised up.” [Matt 20.17.]

And they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking on ahead of them; and they were amazed, and those who followed were fearful. And again He took the twelve aside and began to tell them what was going to happen to Him, saying, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, and will deliver Him to the Gentiles. “And they will mock Him and spit upon Him, and scourge Him, and kill Him, and three days later He will rise again.” [Mark 10.32]

And He took the twelve aside and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things which are written through the prophets about the Son of Man will be accomplished.For He will be delivered to the Gentiles, and will be mocked and mistreated and spit upon, and after they have scourged Him, they will kill Him; and the third day He will rise again.” And they understood none of these things, and this saying was hidden from them, and they did not comprehend the things that were said. [Luke 18.31]


He spoke of His suffering and death as some kind of ‘cup’ which the Father gave Him to drink. This cup is both a cup of suffering and a cup of wrath/punishment from God—something Jesus did not deserve. Somehow, this punishment-cup was given to Jesus to drink, but not because of some personal sin of His own. He is acknowledged by both Biblical and Islamic tradition as being sinless.


Jesus affirms His own perfect obedience to God the Father:

So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. 29 And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.” (Jn 8:28-29).

But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me. 46 “Which one of you convicts Me of sin? (Jn 8:45).

So Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me. 17 If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. 18 The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood. (Jn 7:16-18). .


And the apostles and first followers bore witness to His moral perfection consistently:

For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth [this is a prophetic quote from the Hebrew Bible, about the Messiah, in Isaiah 53.9]; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; (1 Pe 2:21).

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Co 5:21).

You know that he [Jesus] appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. (1 Jn 3:5).

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, (1 Pe 3:18).

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. (Heb 4:15).


And even though the Qur'an points out the sins of Muhammad occasionally (e.g., 47:19, 48:2, 33:36-38), it never hints at any sin of Jesus, in almost 100 references to him. Indeed, Mary is told in the Annunciation that her son Jesus will be 'pure' [19:19]



We have noticed the verses using the ‘cup’ image and here is how the exegetes have understood this from the Hebrew Scriptural background:

“39 Jesus goes by himself “a little further” into the orchard, where he falls on his face before God in prayer (in the OT a common posture in special circumstances of worship, fear, or submission; in the NT, cf. 17:6; Rev 7:11; 11:16). In his prayer he addresses God with the intimate words “my Father” (very frequent in Matthew, but cf. esp. v. 29; 11:25, 27; 25:34). “This cup,” is a metaphor for the suffering and death that he was soon to face (it is used as a metaphor for death also in 20:22–23; cf. John 18:11). For the related imagery of “the cup of God’s wrath,” also pertinent to the present context ( cf. Rev 14:10; 16:19; and OT background in Isa 51:17, 22. Jesus then prays that “if it is possible” he might not have to go the way of the cross. This conditioning of the prayer with “if it is possible” becomes more specific in the final clause of the prayer, “but not as I will, but as you (will)” (cf. v. 42). The governing reality then is not the will of Jesus, who would avoid what lies ahead, but the will of God, who is fixed in his intent to accomplish salvation for the world through the death of his Son (cf. John 6:38; 4:34)" [Hagner, D. A. (2002). Vol. 33B: Word Biblical Commentary : Matthew 14-28. Word Biblical Commentary (783). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.]

“For the “cup” as a metaphor for suffering see on 20:22–23;19 we noted there that in the OT the metaphor carried also the connotation of God’s anger and thus of punishment, and in the light of Jesus’ words over the “cup” in v. 28 the metaphor may be used here to focus especially on the element of vicarious punishment in Jesus’ death (though of course the “cup” offered to the disciples was not that of Jesus’ vicarious suffering in itself, but of their participation in its benefits). It was that aspect of his suffering, not merely the physical pain and death in themselves, that most distressed him; perhaps we should understand that in speaking of the cup (of God’s anger) he was already aware of the coming separation from his Father which 27:46 will so graphically describe. That is something he simply does not want to have to go through, but the clause “if it is possible” already recognizes the conflict between his natural revulsion and the purpose of his Father, and the concluding clause, “not as I wish but as you wish,” makes it plain where his ultimate loyalty lies. There is no question of his refusing the will of God once it is clear that there is no “Plan B.” Jesus’ repeated predictions of his death, and his statement in vv. 24 and 31 that this is to happen “as it is written,” show that he was already well aware of his Father’s will; what is happening in Gethsemane is not the discovery of this as a new fact, but the need to come to terms in emotion and will with what he has already known in theory.

[France, R. T. (2007). The Gospel of Matthew. The New International Commentary on the New Testament (1004). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publication Co.]

“The request addressed to God, “remove this cup from me” recalls the question the Markan Jesus put to the sons of Zebedee in 10:38, when they requested that they be allowed to sit on his right and left in his glory: “Are you able to drink the cup which I am about to drink?”. It is not clear whether Mark, or the author of the pre-Markan passion narrative (with regard to 14:36), adopted a symbol from the Old Testament, the cup of wrath, or whether 10:38 and 14:36 reflect the emergence of a new symbol, the cup of suffering. Leonhard Goppelt assumed the latter. It seems likely that the foundation of Mark’s usage is the imagery of the cup of wrath in the Old Testament. This image is associated with the theme of the judgment of the nations. The experience of the judicial wrath of God is compared to extreme intoxication. Thus, the image of drinking a cup in v. 36 suggests that Jesus, though innocent, will take upon himself the wrath that others deserve. This idea, which may already have been present in the pre-Markan passion narrative, is analogous to the interpretation of Jesus’ death in the second part of the cup-saying in v. 24. It is also analogous to the ransom saying in 10:45." [Collins, A. Y., & Attridge, H. W. (2007). Mark : A Commentary on the Gospel of Mark. Hermeneia--a critical and historical commentary on the Bible (680). Minneapolis: Fortress Press]

“35–36 Separating himself a few yards from the three disciples Jesus prostrated himself and prayed aloud that “the hour” or “this cup” might pass from him. The two expressions are synonymous: both are metaphors for the passion in its deeper redemptive significance. This is evident from the parallel structure of verses 35b and 36a, where the substance of Jesus’ prayer is expressed first indirectly and then directly. The reference to “the hour” in verse 35 appears to have been dictated by Jesus’ pronouncement that “the hour has come” in verse 41, referring to the moment of his betrayal and arrest with its foreseeable consequences of his execution as a condemned criminal. The meaning of that course of events is informed by the reference to “this cup,” which in the light of Ch. 10:38 can only designate the chalice of death and of God’s wrath that Jesus takes from the Father’s hand in fulfillment of his mission. The thought that the cup could be removed may have come from Isa. 51:17–23 where God, in a proclamation of salvation, summons Jerusalem to arouse from its drunken stupor and to recognize that “the cup of staggering” has been taken away. Yet Scripture also speaks of those who “did not deserve to drink the cup [but] must drink it” (Jer. 49:12). … The complete surrender of the Son in patient obedience to the Father, expressed in Abba, is affirmed in the words which qualify the prayer: “if it is possible” (verse 35) and “not what I will, but rather what you will” (verse 36). Jesus’ desire was conditioned upon the will of God, and he resolutely refused to set his will in opposition to the will of the Father. Fully conscious that his mission entailed submission to the horror of the holy wrath of God against human sin and rebellion, the will of Jesus clasped the transcendentally lofty and sacred will of God." [Lane, W. L. (1974). The Gospel of Mark. The New International Commentary on the New Testament (517). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.]

“The image of the cup of suffering and judgment is familiar from 10:38–39. It is that metaphorical usage which provides the background for Jesus’ prayer rather than the cup of v. 23, which was a literal cup, however symbolic its contents became, and was offered to the disciples to drink, not given to Jesus. The fact that the cup of suffering is pictured as being given to Jesus by his Father (who is thus able also to take it away) strikingly expresses the conviction which underlies Mark’s narrative of the passion, that God controls the whole process culminating in Jesus’ death. At the same time the fact that Jesus, who in 10:38–39 could speak with apparent calm of the cup in store for him, is now so appalled at the prospect that he begs to be rid of it vividly conveys the reality and human cost of that passion. This is in strong contrast with idealised portrayals of martyrs who go gladly to their death. The Jesus who accepts his Father’s will does not do so with a ‘docetic’ indifference but with a mental as well as physical agony which will reach its horrifying climax in the cry from the cross in 15:34." [France, R. T. (2002). The Gospel of Mark : A commentary on the Greek text (583). Grand Rapids, Mich.; Carlisle: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press.]

“Jesus’ prayer is that the hour “might pass from him.” The hour will be defined shortly as being the time for the “son of man” to be “delivered into the hands of sinners” (v 41), who will then abuse and execute him, just as Jesus has predicted on several occasions (cf. 8:31; 9:31; 10:33–34). But because Jesus has also spoken of his death in terms of atonement (14:24: “This is my blood of the covenant,” alluding to Exod 24:8 and other texts), thus implying that his death is in some sense a sin offering, he may very well have also feared divine wrath. After all, in 14:27 he applied Zech 13:7 (“Strike the shepherd”) to himself, thus implying that God’s wrath would fall upon him. Moreover, at the very moment of his death Jesus will cry out, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (15:34). It is this abandonment that Jesus fears most. Perhaps this accounts for the intensity of Jesus’ fear, in contrast to the equanimity seen in the Maccabean martyrs." [Evans, C. A. (2002). Vol. 34B: Word Biblical Commentary : Mark 8:27-16:20. Word Biblical Commentary (411). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.]

“Remove this cup from me.” On the cup of wrath, see Isa 51:17, where the prophet enjoins Jerusalem: “stand up, O Jerusalem, you who have drunk at the hand of the Lord the cup of his wrath.” On removing or taking away the cup, see Isa 51:22, where a compassionate and forgiving God says, “Behold, I have taken from your hand the cup of staggering; the bowl of my wrath you shall drink no more.” See also Ezek 23:32–34; Lam 4:21; Ps 11:6; Mart. Ascen. Isa. 5:13 (cf. Mark 10:38–39). Scriptural parallels such as these add color and backdrop to the words of Jesus’ pleading prayer." [Evans, C. A. (2002). Vol. 34B: Word Biblical Commentary : Mark 8:27-16:20. Word Biblical Commentary (413). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.]


We should also understand that the anguish and almost-terror our Jesus experienced in anticipation of the Cross was greater than that which would be for a ‘simple’ martyr’s death. Death itself was not something He would shrink from or avoid—whether it was shameful, extreme, or filled with physical torment. But, as the sinless One, He could not accept the ‘cup of punishment for sin’ without Him somehow ‘becoming’ sinful before God the Judge. In some way before the eyes of God, the sins of disobedience of others had to be placed 'upon' the perfect Jesus. And we understand that Jesus’ horror over the Cross was His horror over becoming sin—that which is hated by God, which incurs God’s punishment, and which causes abandonment by God.

Jesus anticipated this abandonment by God (for the sins of others), and experienced that on the Cross: “My God, My God—why have You forsaken me?!” was the cry upon His lips as He approached His moment of death.

Those who study the passages in which Jesus expressed His anguish over His coming defilement by ‘becoming sin’ for others, highlight this ‘extra element’ above and beyond ‘simple’ death:

“For the “cup” as a metaphor for suffering see on 20:22–23;19 we noted there that in the OT the metaphor carried also the connotation of God’s anger and thus of punishment, and in the light of Jesus’ words over the “cup” in v. 28 the metaphor may be used here to focus especially on the element of vicarious punishment in Jesus’ death (though of course the “cup” offered to the disciples was not that of Jesus’ vicarious suffering in itself, but of their participation in its benefits). It was that aspect of his suffering, not merely the physical pain and death in themselves, that most distressed him; perhaps we should understand that in speaking of the cup (of God’s anger) he was already aware of the coming separation from his Father which 27:46 will so graphically describe” [France, R. T. (2007). The Gospel of Matthew. The New International Commentary on the New Testament (1004). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publication Co.]

“Jesus’ prayer is that the hour “might pass from him.” The hour will be defined shortly as being the time for the “son of man” to be “delivered into the hands of sinners” (v 41), who will then abuse and execute him, just as Jesus has predicted on several occasions (cf. 8:31; 9:31; 10:33–34). But because Jesus has also spoken of his death in terms of atonement (14:24: “This is my blood of the covenant,” alluding to Exod 24:8 and other texts), thus implying that his death is in some sense a sin offering, he may very well have also feared divine wrath. After all, in 14:27 he applied Zech 13:7 (“Strike the shepherd”) to himself, thus implying that God’s wrath would fall upon him. Moreover, at the very moment of his death Jesus will cry out, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (15:34). It is this abandonment that Jesus fears most. Perhaps this accounts for the intensity of Jesus’ fear, in contrast to the equanimity seen in the Maccabean martyrs.” [Evans, C. A. (2002). Vol. 34B: Word Biblical Commentary : Mark 8:27-16:20. Word Biblical Commentary (411). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.]

“John 12:27–29 As frequently in the events leading up to his crucifixion, Jesus’ heart is troubled (see 11:33; 13:21; cf. 14:1, 27), whereby the term tarassō (trouble) suggests strong inner turmoil and agitation. One should not think of Jesus’ emotion here as “a sense of dread that suddenly comes over” him, but rather as “the realization—which in the progress of his suffering (cf. 13:21) has repeatedly seized him—of the darkness of the path on which he is led by God”. The scene is illumined by the Synoptic account of Jesus’ struggle in Gethsemane (Matt. 26:38 par.) and by the depiction of Jesus offering up prayers and petitions “with loud cries and tears” in Hebrews (5:7). … The ultimate sentiment of “What shall I say: ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this very reason I came to this hour!” matches Jesus’ attitude in the Synoptic accounts of Gethsemane (Matt. 26:39, 42). The deliberative subjunctive (eipō, shall I say) and the strong adversative (alla, but) both point “to a hypothetical rather than an actual prayer” that Jesus considers praying but rejects, expressing the “natural human shrinking from death” (Morris 1995: 528–29). The saying underscores the genuineness of Jesus’ humanity and points to his substitutionary sacrifice (2 Cor. 5:21).” [Köstenberger, A. J. (2004). John. Baker exegetical commentary on the New Testament (380). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic.]

“John 12:27-28a. Jesus instructed His disciples on the cost of commitment to the Father’s will by disclosing His emotions. He was in turmoil (tetaraktai, “stirred, agitated”; cf. 11:33; 14:1) because of the prospect of being made sin (2 Cor. 5:21) in His death. In view of His turmoil, should He shrink back and ask for deliverance from this hour? Certainly not, for His Incarnation was for the very purpose of bringing Him to this hour (cf. John 12:23; 13:1; 17:1). Jesus willingly expressed His submission to the will of the Father in the words, Father, glorify Your name!” [Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1983-c1985). The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures (318). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.]

Jesus’ death was a frequent topic of His teaching, as we have seen above in the very explicit passages. But there are many other references to it that we have not covered. Two of these are:

Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Mt 26:26-29).

And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. 3 And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. 4 And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 5 He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. 7 But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and shave no fear.” 8 And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. 9 And as they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Tell no one the vision, until the Son of Man is raised from the dead.” 10 And the disciples asked him, “Then why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?” 11 He answered, “Elijah does come, and he will restore all things. 12 But I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man will certainly suffer at their hands.13 Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist. (Mt 17:1-13; note that Jesus compares His mistreatment to the arrest and beheading of John the Baptist—Yahu ).


In the next article in this series, we will look again at the prediction of the coming of Israel's Messiah. The Qur'an (and Muslim tradition) identifies the Jewish Messiah with Jesus, and if Israel's Messiah was supposed to suffer (like Jesus did), then we must look at the pre-Quranic Hebrew Bible/Old Testament for WHY the Messiah was supposed to suffer. Then we will consider the explanations of the result of the Cross, as given by Jesus and His disciples in the Injil/New Testament.


In one of His post-resurrection appearances, Jesus pointed out that the Messiah/Christ must have experienced the suffering, in order to then experience His glory:

That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. (Lk 24:13-27).

We will look at this passage more closely in the next installment in this series.


Jesus consistently spoke about His death, about His voluntary obedience to God the Father through that death, and about how unusually horrific some aspect of that death would be.


So, the answer to this part of the question is straight-forward:

Jesus allowed His enemies to do these acts of evil to Him, because He was fully committed, submitted, and obedient to the will of God, as revealed in the prophetic Hebrew Scriptures/Old Testament..


On to the next part, about the predictions about the Messiah's sufferings...


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