What are we supposed to think about the episode of Christ’s Agony in the Garden? What exactly was the Son of God agonizing over that fateful night? The most common explanation would have us believe He was tormented with the thought of the incredible pain and suffering He was to endure for our salvation. Unfortunately, this explanation appears in nearly every one of the scholarly commentaries and meditations I have personally come across. Perhaps you have heard it as well? Perhaps you have even believed it yourself, as I did for many years. I grew up with it. But have you ever wondered where this explanation came from? Who first proposed it? Why it has become the world’s most popular and accepted explanation? It is my sincere wish that after reading this letter, you might better understand who is really behind this version – and, as quickly as I did, confine it to the putrid sewers of Hell from which it came.
Granted, the Son of God agonized over something that night – even to the point of sweating blood. We know because Holy Scripture tells us so. And yes, He begged His Father in Heaven to relieve Him of something – something He refers to as “this chalice”. Even so, Scripture never tells us what He meant by “this chalice”. Nor does it give us the slightest clue as to what He was agonizing over. In other words, the most popular explanation of this event, aside from what is expressly mentioned in Scripture, is nothing more than speculation – an hypothesis at best. Well intentioned by its supporters, perhaps; yet the fact is, the unspoken implication of such a version has proved disastrous not only to the image of the Son of God, but to one of the key messages of His sacrifice – that is, His incredible desire to suffer and die for mankind. You see, what is clearly implied by this misinterpretation (though its supporters will never consciously admit it) is that the Son of God cowered in the face of His martyrdom.
No doubt the defenders of this misinterpretation will deny such a preposterous accusation. “He was certainly not a coward” they will protest. “He was just really distraught over the thought of His future pain and suffering, and asked to be released from it. That’s all. He wasn’t cowering though.” As anyone can see, short of redefining the word “cower”, the defenders of this position have no defense at all. Nor is there any need for one. What is needed is a proper interpretation of the events – or at the very least, an understanding of where this blasphemous absurdity came from.
Back in the 1960’s, Paul VI adopted a crucifix upon which Christ is displayed in a miserable drooping form. This same crucifix is an exact replica of a 6th century crucifix found in the Museum of Witchcraft in Bayonne, France. In the realm of Satanism, the purpose of representing Christ as a miserable, drooping rag is to mock Him as a “weakling”. This is why the corpus sags as it does on the witch’s crucifix. It is meant to portray the Son of God as a wimp. This image of the “weakling” is likewise the image we are forced to adopt, whether consciously or subconsciously, when we buy into the commonly held explanation of why Christ suffered in the Garden of Gethsemani. That is to say, the blasphemous portrayal of the Son of God cowering in the face of His martyrdom is nothing but another attempt by Lucifer to portray his conqueror as a frightened little pansy.
Unfortunately, it would seem he has convinced the greater part of mankind to adopt this explanation as well. Nonetheless, you may rest assured it is from the Father of Lies and the sworn enemy of Christ that we have received this blasphemous version. If nothing else, what better way to destroy the spirit of future martyrs than to portray their champion as a coward in the face of His own martyrdom? In the end, there can be no doubt that any portrayal of Almighty God as a weakling is the handiwork of Lucifer.
Nor is it necessary that we rely solely upon the replica of a Satanic crucifix to prove the origins of this blasphemous explanation. Simple common sense betrays it, for even women and children have acted with far greater bravery in the face of horrific tortures than the so-called Christ of this version. St. Alphonsus de Liguori wrote a magnificent book entitled Victories of the Martyrs in which he gives numerous accounts of such courage – some involving children no more than two and three years old. Likewise, the second Book of Macchabees tells of the martyrdom of seven young men and boys who stood before the king with unflinching courage as they were slowly and unmercifully tortured to death one after the other. They were whipped; their tongues were cut out; the skin of their head, with the hair, was peeled off; their fingers and toes were chopped off; lastly, they were fried to death in large heated pans. Moreover, this was done in full view of each one so as to scare the next in line; and yet not a single one of them showed the least bit of fear, but even mocked the cruel tyrant to the very end. And yet, we are to believe that Almighty God Himself cowered before His own torture and death, pleading like some frightened little wimp to be relieved of His fate? It's a blasphemous absurdity.
Nor does this explanation make any sense. Christ was agonizing over the thought of His Passion? An event He referred to affectionately as “My Hour”? His sacrifice was the highlight and single greatest event of His entire life. This was something He had longed for from all eternity. This is precisely why it is referred to as His “Passion”. Yet we are to believe He was in mortal fear of it? That He even begged His Father to be released from it? Nonsense.
Of course, this is not to say that the Son of God enjoys pain… far from it. Yet we must keep in mind, whereas pain might have been foremost in our thoughts were we to find ourselves in the same circumstance, God had something far greater in His – the eternal damnation of His children. Let me offer a scenario to illustrate just how preposterous this wimpy version is: Imagine coming home from work one day, looking forward to those wonderful hugs from your children and maybe a good tail-wagging from the dog. Only this time, you find your home engulfed in flames. Fire is shooting like a whirlwind from the windows and blazing 20 feet in the air from gaping holes in the roof. Neighbors have gathered in the street, covering their mouths in horror and disbelief. A sickening fear grips your stomach as you slam the car into park and jump out. You feel the burning intensity of the heat as you run through the crowd of onlookers shouting frantically for your children. Just then, through the shrill crackling of embers you hear their distant, terrified screams…
Now tell me – what are you afraid of? What’s going through your mind? Are you considering the pain you might have to endure if you tried to save your children; or the flames that might singe your hair or ruin the clothes you just had dry-cleaned? Are you thinking about yourself at all? Suppose, after you kick the front door off the hinges, someone in the crowd threatens to whip you if you continue?
And do you think God’s desire to save His children is any less? That His love is no greater than yours? What is more, keep in mind that in the above scenario, were the children caught in the flames, their suffering would last but a few moments. Christ was facing an infinitely worse scenario – that of His children burning forever. With this in mind, do you think He was concerned in the least with the pain He was going to endure? Do you think He was concerned with Himself at all? The mere thought betrays not only simple human nature, but the very nature of God Himself, Who IS love. No. Christ was thinking of ONE THING that night in the Garden of Gethsemani – the potential damnation of His children. You can be sure of that. As far as what exactly caused Him such intense agony that the pores in His skin burst – no one really knows. I do have my suspicions though, which I will share.
We are told by Saints and theologians that God could have atoned for the sins of mankind in countless different ways. The shedding of a single drop of blood would have sufficed. Or a single tear. Or a prayer. Whatever He would have accomplished on our behalf would have been infinite in merit, and therefore would have been more than sufficient to atone for sin. Even so, not all methods would have had the same result in regard to man. In other words, some methods would have brought about more conversions than others. The reason being, the ultimate decision whether one will be saved or not is up to the individual.
You see, strictly speaking, the sacrifice of Christ did not save us. It made our salvation possible. The ultimate decision is up to us. He has given us the prison’s key, but it is up to each individual to use it. So then, since the final decision is ours, God chose a means of atoning for sin that would persuade the greatest number of people to accept His offer – He chose to move our hearts.
Not only did He suffer and die in punishment for our own sins, and at our own hands, but He chose to suffer the most painful torture ever conceived by man – a torture so excruciating that even the cruel and godless Roman soldiers were in the habit of offering the victims an elixir to deaden the initial shock. In fact, the word “excruciating” was derived from the very word “crucifixion”. Finally, God chose to sacrifice Himself in this manner in full public view – in front of the entire world.
This supreme act of love was the most perfect means of touching the hearts of men, and thereby gaining the greatest number of conversions. It was also the very last thing Lucifer wanted the world to see. Therefore, I believe that what took place in the Garden of Gethsemani was a life and death battle between Christ and Lucifer. Christ even said that His sorrow had reached to the very point of death; and since it is ludicrous to imagine His Father was trying to kill Him, it might be reasonable to assume the Devil was behind this horrific degree of misery. In short, I believe Lucifer sought to kill the Son of God that night – alone, under cover of darkness, while His disciples and the rest of the world slept, insuring that no one on earth witnessed the depths of God’s love for mankind.
As to exactly how he attempted this, I can only guess. Perhaps in the supernatural realm, it is possible to cause someone to become sorrowful for no reason at all; but if I had to, I would say that Lucifer paraded before the eyes of Christ actual visions of souls burning in Hell. Indeed, on account of His unfathomable abyss of love for mankind, what else in all of creation would have caused Him more agony than this – than to see his children burning in eternal Hellfire? Moreover, it is not unheard of that people actually die from grief. It is quite possible. Yet Christ had absolutely no intention of dying alone and unseen. The salvation of countless souls depended upon His glorious martyrdom.
I believe the sheer intensity of the battle to preserve His life caused the pores in His skin to burst open. At the same time, being a man, the continual, unyielding strain on His body, mind, and soul wore Him down enough that He feared He might truly die if there were no help from Heaven. In that moment, He begged His Father to take away the “chalice” of His silent, unspeakable war with the Legions of Hell. And what did His Father do? Send an Angel to console Him? To tell Him everything was going to be just fine? No. His Father sent an Angel to strengthen Him so He could continue the fight (Lk. 22:43).
So then, far from cowering in the face of His martyrdom, Christ actually fought with every ounce of energy He had, and with every fiber of His body, for the opportunity to suffer and die for mankind. He is, and will always be, the supreme martyr. Gods fears absolutely nothing but the damnation of His children. He is the Good Shepherd, Who lays down His life for His sheep – no matter what the cost, for there is nothing more important to Him. Love casts out all fear, as Scripture says. Therefore, let all those who imagine in their minds that the Son of God cowered in the face of His martyrdom reflect more deeply upon such a blasphemous absurdity; lest, in the coming persecution, they find themselves without the strength to bear their own sufferings...