Exegesis Paper: Matthew 26:36-46

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One of the greatest debates that continues to rage on amongst theologians, as well as others, is in regards to the balance between the humanity and the divinity of the person of Jesus Christ (also known as Christology). This debate can be especially challenging in the Scripture passage of Matthew 26:36-46 where the reader finds Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. Many of the ancient and medieval theologians worked to explain away apparent humanistic characteristics seen in this section of the text, while more modern theologians seem to be more open to embracing these characteristics. While the ancient and medieval theologians may not have embraced the humanity of Jesus, the translations and backgrounds of the words “cup”, “grieved”, and “agitated”, along with the translation of the passage itself, the humanity of Jesus is not only present in the passage but also a necessity to the salvation of humanity through the sacrifice of Jesus. Simply put, for the salvation through death to be relatable for humanity, Jesus had to also be, at least in part, fully human as well as being fully divine.

Historical Background

A literal reading of this passage tells us that Jesus “began to be grieved and agitated” while in the garden as he prepared for the impending challenges that were ahead of him. But ancient and medieval theologians pushed against the ideas that Jesus was truly grieved or even that Jesus was asking for God to “let this cup pass from me” because he was not fully aware of what was to come or what his sacrifice would mean for humanity. According to Kevin Madigan, “Augustine appears to agree, denying that Christ felt true sadness and alleging that when Jesus prays ‘Take this cup from me,’ he pleads not fo...

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