Jesus in garden being ministered to by angels

Church Windows – Take this Cup Away from Me! Abandonment to God’s Will

 March 29, 2018

As a child, I never attended Good Friday services. We only had one car and my dad needed it for work. Mom made us stay inside during the afternoon out of the respect for the day. We did, however, attend Holy Thursday services.

I don’t remember a lot about the service, but I do remember being impressed by the thought of Jesus, all alone, struggling with accepting God’s will for him. Even Jesus struggled at times with God’s will. Perhaps this is where my lifelong struggle to find God’s will in my life started.

In my mind, thinking about what lay ahead was worse than the actual event. Once the day started, other factors took over, most of which Jesus had no control over. I was intent to spend this time with Jesus in prayer, rather than leaving him alone. I’ve since come to recognize that both are equally terrible, the waiting of Holy Thursday, and the events of Good Friday.

Stained-Glass Window of Agony in the Garden

This stained-glass window beautifully depicts those hours in Gethsemane. Accounts of this time are recorded in each of the synoptic gospels. In John, we see but one verse indicating any uncertainty on Jesus’ part about what is to follow. “Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—‘Father save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour.” (John 12:28) Jesus, in John’s gospel, is always in control. He knows who he is and what he is doing.

In the synoptic gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke, we see a more human Jesus. One who struggles like all of us do. An angel holding a chalice is depicted in the window, ministering to Jesus while the apostles sleep. “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want,” (26:39) Jesus prays in Matthew’s account. In Mark, he prays, “Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet now what I want, but what you want.” (14:36) In Luke’s gospel an angel appears to give him strength. (Luke 22:43)

Cup, for the Hebrews, is a metaphor based on the practice of passing wine to a guest at a feast or meal. It means my fate or destiny. And so, Jesus is asking that, if it be the Father’s will, that he take this cup away from him, change his fate.

What a wonderful example of complete abandonment to God’s will. Like Jesus, we need to pray again and again, “your will, not mine.” This stained-glass window reminds us of that night before Jesus died and Jesus’ openness to God’s will. And so, we are to accept the destiny God has in store for each of us.

What are your memories of Holy Thursday? Do you struggle with finding God’s will for you? I would love to hear from you.


This post is part of a series of reflections on St. John’s church windows.  Click here to follow blog and receive a free copy of  Dancing on a High Wire.      click here to follow blog

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