This section of scripture contains what I believe is one of the most misunderstood or badly translated parts of the Bible. The translators have done the best they can, and I am no expert in translation, but there is something wrong with this piece of scripture in the translation from the Greek to English.
This section of scripture relates to Jesus in the garden at Gethsemane where he is later betrayed by Judas. But prior to that He goes off with several of the disciples to pray. But the disciples fall asleep and when Jesus comes to them he says, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” (Verses 40 and 46) This is the scripture that appears to be in error.
Let us consider for a minute the situation. Jesus is praying in the garden asking His Father saying, “Father, if thou art willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” (Verse 42)
Jesus knew that His time had come and that He was about to be arrested, tried and put to death as it was written of Him. But as a man He was suffering from fear and so he was asking the Father if there was any other way that this could be done. He was hoping the Father would find another way, but in spite of that He was being obedient in spite of his fear and trepidation.
The disciples however were supposed to be lending him support in his time of need. He asked them to stay awake and to pray also. But the disciples, not realising the seriousness of the situation and being tired, fell asleep. They did not know what was coming otherwise sleep would not have been possible, but because they had no worries, they were overcome by tiredness and nodded off.
Who is Really being Tempted?
So we can see that it is Jesus who was under pressure in this situation. He was the one who was struggling and looking for another way out. He was the one who could have run away, fled to another place or whatever to try and escape the troubles that were about to fall upon him. Or as it says in another version of this event, “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?” (Matthew 26:53-54)
It was Jesus who was under temptation at this time, not the disciples. It was Jesus who was in the firing line and who wanted to escape or could have sought angelic help to escape the situation, not the disciples.
But if He had done so and not gone through the death he did, how would the New Covenant have come into being? How would we be able to be reconciled to God and be forgiven our sins? How would we be able to escape the bondages of law and be able to receive the Holy Spirit to help us and do the work of transformation in our lives to transform us into the image of Jesus Christ?
The Translation Issue
The issue with this section of scripture is as follows. It reads as, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” (Verses 40 and 46) But the Greek does not have the word “you” in it. To translate the literal words from the Greek it reads as, “Pray not enter into temptation.” There is no specification of who it is that should not enter into temptation, but it is clear from Jesus words and the situation that is was not the disciples who were being tempted, it was Jesus.
Jesus was being tempted to escape his destiny and the ramifications if he did so would be horrendous for then Satan would have won. The information above clearly shows the degree to which He was tempted. Consider also verse 44, which is included in some translations but not others and say, “And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down upon the ground.”
So who was being tempted and under pressure? Jesus who was sweating blood, or the disciples who were fast asleep? The answer is plain and as I said earlier, I believe the translators got it wrong. Verses 40 and 46 would be better rendered as “Pray that I may not enter into temptation.” This translation better fits the known facts of the situation and makes it much clearer as to what was going on in the mind of the Lord.
We should be thankful that He did not succumb to temptation and give Him the praise He deserves for being our salvation. May we always praise him and thank Him for making this great sacrifice so that we may live.
(Picture sourced from ChristiansUnite.com)