Christ’s Unanswered Prayer in Gethsemane
Question: I think the classic example of unanswered prayer is the one Jesus supposedly prayed in Gethsemane on His way to the Cross: “If it be possible, let this cup pass from me” (Matthew:26:39). We are told that the “cup” He feared (of going to the Cross) didn’t pass from Him. Why was he so afraid of the Cross? Thousands were crucified by the Romans, many bearing it bravely and some even defiantly. Doesn’t the fact that Christ was so afraid and that His prayer wasn’t answered disprove the claim that He was God in the flesh?
Response: Jesus did not fear the Cross. It was not the thought of the intense physical suffering he face that made His sweat seem like drops of blood. Instead, His holy soul shrank from becoming the very thing He hated: sin. As Paul explained, “He [God] has made him [Christ] to be sin for us, [he] who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians:5:21).
As for this being the classic example of unanswered prayer, you are not far from wrong. The fact that Christ’s prayer was not answered speaks volumes to us. We thereby know that there was no other possible means for redemption. Had there been any other way, God would not have insisted upon the Cross.
We are assured that not even God’s infinite love for His Son could cause Him to go back upon His promise to save the world from the penalty that His own righteous law demanded for sin. The Cross that Christ endured in obedience to His Father and out of love for mankind stands forever as proof of God’s love and assures us that we can never be lost. For as Paul said: “I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, not depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans:8:38-39)