Did Jesus feel deep agony in the face of death, in virtual despair up until the end? Or was he calm and collected, confident in both himself and God’s will? It depends which Gospel you read.
And that is one of the reasons (not the only one, as we will see!) that the textual problem of Luke 22:43-44 – the passage that narrates the “bloody sweat” — is so important. If the verses were originally in Luke, then Jesus in Luke, as in Mark, is in deep agony looking ahead to his crucifixion. If the verses were not originally in Luke, then there is no evidence of any agony in Luke’s entire account. Just the contrary. So were the verses originally in Luke or not? It’s a question that really matters.
It is worth stressing what I showed yesterday, that in this passage, Luke has changed Mark (his written source for the account) in significant ways. Many of these changes achieve one overarching purpose: Luke has eliminated every reference and hint to Jesus’ agony. No longer does the narrator say that Jesus was deeply distressed; no longer does Jesus say that he is grievous unto death; no longer does he fall on his face to pray in agony (he instead takes his knees); he prays only once, instead of three times, that God will remove his fate from him; and he prefaces this prayer, unlike Mark, by saying “if it be your will.”
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