There are those people who study and teach the Bible who offer the opinion that Jesus the Christ of God was in mortal danger from Satan, when He agonised in the Garden of Gethsemane, Matt. 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42 & Luke 22:40-46.
They base their opinions on the fact that Jesus was indeed in agony of spirit, as He contemplated his coming death, but particularly the “Cup” that He was to bear for the sin of the world; which had been introduced after Satan’s successful temptation of Eve followed by Adam in Eden!
At least one female teacher uses the reference in Hebrews 5:7 to support their view.
It is an important point to understand from the above quote (Heb. 5:7) that the word “from” is mistranslated, and should from the Greek read “into” (‘ek’; Comp. Bible).
Dr. Bullinger comments: “Not from death, for the Greek word is ‘ek’, not ‘apo’. He went down into death, but was saved out ‘ek’ of it by resurrection”.
Some believe that this refers to Christ praying in Gethsemane, and that he prayed to be saved from death on the cross. Also when he said, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42), they say the “cup” he referred to was death on the cross.
This is not so, and two subjects are being confused. Yes; Satan was near, if not present as Jesus agonised; but as He stated to His Disciples; “he has nothing in Me” (John 14:30), clearly meaning that the (accuser, the resister, the opposer”, the originator of all rebellion and evil), could accuse Him of nothing before the Father!
Why was it important that Satan could not find any fault in Jesus? This is where worldwide wrong teaching and misunderstanding kicks in, and where just a few men in history have stood boldly, even in the face of savage death, especially in the last millennia (see the Roman Church history re. ‘Inquisition’): see: Ecumenical (The) Movement and the Bible:
The fact that Satan is the “prince of this world” at the present time! This is a fact which is not known by the general public, and is certainly not taught in many if not the majority of Churches, especially the “established Churches”!
How could this situation be allowed by Almighty God, which clearly has resulted in much suffering for the human population since Eden; and which has also resulted in the death of humans (the first death) since Eden? The short answer is the rebellion of Satan in Ages past, when he was the “covering cherub” and highly favoured by God, with the freedom and free will to even challenge God, which he did! See: Satan's Motivation & Satan's Origins;
The writer has been questioned as to why Satan was allowed the freedom to cause so much pain and suffering on Earth; to which eventually the following became the reply: see: Ultimate Love.
Adam carried the responsibility in the beginning of this Creation, to follow the rules given him by Almighty God in Eden. Eve was approached by Satan, who successfully persuaded her to do the one thing God had forbidden, to eat the fruit of the “tree of knowledge of good and evil” (Gen. 2:17). To be able to do that, Eve had the free will to make the choice! She was followed by Adam, who carried the responsibility for her and his actions before God (and men still do)! Bible students have and do puzzle over why Adam followed Eve apparently so easily, when he knew he would have audience with God and have to explain himself, and why he had used his free will to do so. Much has been written on this subject, and the writers view is one more: see: Eve and Adam.
This leads us into the crux of the subject, and why it was necessary for Jesus to come to Earth (God in the flesh), to suffer and to die!
Jesus is called “the Second Adam” (1Cor. 15:21-22 & 15:45), the Second Adam brings life as a free gift to all who trust in His work and Sacrifice, on the cross of Calvary, by their free will. The first Adam brought death by his free will!
So what is happening when a teacher and author says/thinks that Jesus is praying against a Satanic attack to his death in Gethsemane?
In the firm opinion of the writers (and many others worldwide), Jesus is contemplating the enormity of the CUP He was about to suffer in becoming SIN, the extent of which is impossible for us to conceive with our limited understanding of SIN. God had tried to give understanding of the consequences of sin to the children of Israel in His direct dealings with them previously; and which can be summarised as direct rebellion against Almighty God; see summary in Malachi; and many places in the Bible!
So; Jesus was about to be sacrificed for the sin of Israel, and the world (The Passover Lamb; see: Resurrection), actually at the time of that great Feast in Jerusalem!
The implication by those that think and say that Jesus could be killed by Satan prior to His arrival at the cross of Calvary; is in the writers view completely erroneous; unless Jesus had sinned under temptation by Satan, which would have given Satan mandate to fatally attack Jesus; but as He said to His Disciples, “Satan has nothing on Me”! Those that think that Jesus could be under threat of death, gives the impression that Satan had the power to do such by permit from God the Father in the sinless state; which would be self-defeating in God’s Plan of Salvation; and God is not a God of confusion (1Cor. 14:33)! Also; God the Father had Promised to preserve His Holy One, during His obedience to, and from the Cross; prophecies and promises which could not be broken; as God's word cannot be broken.
It is clear in Scripture that God does not allow Satan to bring about the death of those who have specific service commissions, and or He loves for good reason. Two well-known examples are Job and Peter; but Satan was refused his request! Whereas, those who for one reason or another can be an impediment to themselves, or God’s Plans can be given to Satan; for their own long term good, or destruction (1Cor. 5:5)! However; they are “fallen” humans; not God incarnate in human form; and the decision is that of Almighty God; not Satan!
The writers have no doubt that Almighty God the Father would not give Satan that power or mandate to kill Jesus; as God’s Plan was to test the FREE WILL of Jesus all the way through His life in the flesh (as a human feeling being (Heb. 4:15), which free will He gave up to the FATHER’S WILL (Luke 22:42); and became the “propitiation” for all people that believe, (1John 2:2 & Romans 3:25). Jesus the Christ of God and future accepted and recognised Messiah of Israel Zech.12:10; maintained His perfection as regards sin; the only variable in His life was His FREE WILL, which He used to the complete satisfaction of God His Father; and sealed Satan’s fate eventually; BECAUSE OF HIS SINLESSNESS!
What Satan had got in his power was to tempt Jesus to the utmost; which would have been particularly painful for Jesus due to His close relationship with the Father, and the knowledge of His ultimate purpose; (Luke 2:49). The agony that Jesus suffered for us in Gethsemane was the contemplation of the sin of the world which He was about to bear the consequences of before the Father; not the fear of a death assault from Satan! Satan wanted Him by His FREE WILL TO DECLINE BECOMING THE SIN OFFERING FOR US, and all people who ever lived; (as well as Satan's original rebellion); as had Jesus so declined, Satan would not be conquered and destroyed eventually, together with his demons (Rev. 20:10).
As seen above, Jesus did not pray for the death of the cross to be removed; but that “the Cup” would not leave him in the grave; and that His resurrection was assured. His agony was the deep dread of being “made Sin”; the sheer volume and dimensions of which are unfathomable to us; and being parted temporarily from His relationship with His Father (“My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me”; Matt. 27:46).
As regards the “angel” in attendance; the verses in Luke 22:43-44 are not in most ancient texts, and where included are marked as doubtful (Companion Bible)
Jesus was completely human in His Earthly life in the sense that He carried the genes (nature) of Mary; but was not pro-created, but Created at the volition of God the Father via The Holy Spirit. He had to be as “the Second Adam”, as close as possible to the first Adam’s condition, as a Created not pro-created being, without the disadvantage of the fallen nature of the first Adam. This made Him temptable by Satan; otherwise He could not have been tempted as we are, and without failure (Heb. 4:15)! This is the whole point of being the “Second Adam”! He could not have been the “perfect sacrifice; the perfect substitute, the propitiation"; if He was incapable of sin! He used His FREE WILL to not sin; and became all the above; and the only “Worthy One” (Rev. 5); TO COMPLETE THE NEXT STEP IN THE PLAN OF GOD !
To suggest that the “Cup” was death in the garden, is totally to miss the great lesson and depth of Jesus’ agony re. Sin; and the vicarious suffering of the Father. It also demonstrates the lack of understanding of the history of Satan and the need for him to be destroyed; see all of the above comments. The great problem today, is that most people are not versed or interested in what is real in terms of God etc. In fact many people think it is infantile to think in terms of God, Sin, and or redemption! The hand-wringing which such teachers try to generate, need not be there, if Jesus’ work and nature were properly understood. In the case of the populous generally, the established Churches and teachers are to blame. See: The Gross Neglect by Church Teachers and Leaders of Coming Events:
Many people misunderstand our Lord’s agony in Gethsemane due to miss-translation from the Greek. The true meaning is given by Dr. Bullinger above; and is noted in the Companion Bible.
The work by Dr. Bullinger and Dr. Gingsberg (OT); was/is acclaimed to this day; except by some of the mainline Churches, notably C of England. The reason for that is that as an ordained Minister himself, Dr. Bullinger criticised the established Churches for the many conflicting teachings; and he had great sympathy for the confused, and the congregations!
The power of Satan is such at present, that such men who have God’s Word on their hearts and minds, know they must guard against following Gideon into the trap of “the jewelled ephod (Judges 8:27)”; such is the urgency of the hour; and to “Rightly Divide the Word of God” (2Tim. 2:15); and not to fall into the trap of honouring present day wrong teachings, by men in powerful “establishment” positions!