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In Luke 22:44 we read how Jesus sweat blood during his prayer at Gethsemane. This happens when one goes through extreme stress and mental agony. Da Vinci is said to have recorded the phenomenon that happened with soldiers prior to fierce battles. Now, we find the human nature of Jesus in dominance in all other stages of the Passion -- right from his trial, through the flogging and crowning, on his path to Calvary where he falls under the weight of the cross and to his loud cry of agony at the moment of death. But in the garden we see him having a frame by frame fore-view of all the suffering that was on the way. Ordinary persons awaiting execution, even through the most cruel methods, are not known to have sweat blood. Thus, it was the human nature in Jesus that sweat blood, while his divine nature had set the stage for it.

My question therefore is: Was the divine nature of Jesus in dominance at the Garden of Gethsemane? Inputs from any denomination are welcome.

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    I don't have enough time for a full answer, but the Chalcedonian understanding of he hypostatic union would say that the two natures are never in conflict, which means the divine nature is never really "dominant". It doesn't overrule the human nature, but both natures are brought together in inseparable unity.
    – curiousdannii
    May 24, 2023 at 8:35
  • His sweat was 'as it were' drops of blood. The narrative likens the degree of perspiration to the manner in which blood drips. The Greek words do not indicate that it was blood. Only that it dripped like blood.
    – Nigel J
    May 25, 2023 at 0:16
  • Nijel J, science tells us that the capillaries adjoining the sweat glands rupture under extreme mental stress . The resultant leaking of blood gets mixed with the sweat. So, it was not pure blood that Jesus sweat, but a mixed form of sweat and blood. May 25, 2023 at 3:41

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An initial thought is, "Dominant to whom?" To the disciples, to the angel that ministered to him, or to God the Father? Or do you wonder whether one nature or another was dominant to Christ, in himself?

The disciples did not seem to notice anything significant about Jesus' nature that night, in the garden, for they couldn't keep their eyes open - they kept falling asleep.

The angel that was sent to sustain Jesus through this unspeakably awful ordeal must have known that it was Christ, in his humanity before him, who was in anguish, yet the angel was ministering to the incarnate Son of God, not just to a man. That stops me dead in my tracks. What can I say to that?

And as for the way the Father viewed his Son at that time, and how the Son knew his Father was viewing him, that is hinted at here:

"Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? Behold and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith the Lord hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger." Lamentations 1:12 A.V.

Then the Son himself - his soul was exceedingly sorrowful - unto death (Mark 14:32-34) - whilst the sorrows of death began to approach him. This was what the human nature of Christ was enduring:

"He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him: he as despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteemed him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted." Isaiah 53:3-4 A.V.

Ah, but this is also where the divine nature of Christ suffered even more than his physical, human nature ever suffered! In the garden, the Son had to anticipate how the Father was soon going to smite him in righteous justice as he "became sin" without having sinned himself. He knew that God is too holy to look upon sin, and so the Father would turn his back on him once he was nailed to that cross of shame, "for cursed is anyone hung on a tree" (Deuteronomy 21:23).

His loneliness of heart and soul affected both his human and his divine nature as he anticipated drinking that bitter cup, down to the dregs.

"Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none. They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink." Psalm 69:20-21 A.V.

Jesus knew that 69th Psalm. He knew gall and vinegar would be literally presented to his parched lips when on the cross. But it was the spiritual, divine suffering that was only a few hours away that he had to wrestle with in prayer in Gethsemane, more than the physical suffering - horrendous though that was too.

There is no way to tease out any supposed 'threads' of one nature, or the other, to see if one was more 'dominant' than the other. Both the human and the divine nature of our Lord was perfectly balanced in him, both being required to carry out the drinking of that cup from the Father's hand. The hypostatic union meant that there was a genuinely and fully human nature to Christ that suffered, and there was a genuinely and fully divine nature that meant the suffering servant would be the only sinless, perfect sacrifice for sin there ever was, or ever would be required. Yet in the garden he had to contemplate what was before him; the prospect of the cup came with a human and spiritual dread that was unprecedented. The Father was holding it out to him. Would he take it and drink it to the last drop? We know the answer - thank God - though we cannot understand what Christ went through. We are silenced.

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  • Thanks, Anne for the emotionally packed answer. With reference to the opening para, I beg to clarify this: in the other stages of Passion, one sees Jesus in extremely pathetic human form , not seeing the stumbling blocks in Via Sacra, his accent prone to misinterpretation and his tasting of the painkiller gall thrust on his dry lips. In the garden, however, he has crystal- clear fore-view of that was to come. So, the comparison is between his aspects of nature-- both Divine and Human. May 25, 2023 at 4:09
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I don’t know if any form of dominance can be deduced from this text and I wouldn’t want to. For me there is no problem in the fact that some things are just a mystery.

But you ask, so I will try to answer from my point of view. I am a catholic deacon, so member of the clergy, but I do not know of any catholic teaching on this matter, so what I say is really just my personal view. As this is highly speculative (I think), I think a personal view may be the only answer you can get, but I am curious to see better answers.

I think neither is dominant here.

It is Jesus, second Person of the Trinity, that knows exactly what is coming. Different from “normal” men, it is not an idea without experience, that may be frightening but is softened by the fact you never really know what is coming. We can fear pain, torture, spiritual abandonment and death, but the fear is not founded in true knowledge. For Jesus, there is no lack of knowledge.

But it is Jesus, man like all (wo)men other than sin, who has to deal with this knowledge. Maybe the fact that He knows why He is going to suffer this much, His obedience to the will of the Father, the fact that His life is not about to be taken from Him but to be given freely by Him, makes the emotion of fear unimaginable for us, but nevertheless I think it is not hard to believe He suffered something very deeply, that we would call fear.

So I believe strongly that what happened in the Garden was truly revealing the dual nature of Jesus. Fully God, fully man, not mixed, and neither suppressed at any time. In fact, I think this description is a rather strong argument for the teachings about Jesus’ nature.

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Was the divine nature of Jesus in dominance at the Garden of Gethsemane?

The short answer is no. The two natures of Christ Jesus were operating in perfect unison during Jesus’ Passion in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Although Jesus exhibited signs of fear while praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, a phenomenon also known as hematidrosis, does not mean that the two natures were somehow not united. The opposite remains true.

The Divine and human natures in Christ are denominated one by the other; for Cyril says (quoted in the acts of the Council of Chalcedon, part ii, act. 1) that the Divine nature "is incarnate"; and Gregory Nazianzen says (Ep. i ad Cledon.) that the human nature is "deified," as appears from Damascene (De Fide Orth. iii, 6,11).

The mode of union of the Word incarnate (Summa Theologiae)

The following article may be of interest to some:

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Of these views:

  • God is three persons, but also a single person (Trinity Mystery).
  • God is three distinct persons (trinitarian).
  • God is two distinct persons (binitarian).
  • God is only one person (unitarian).

The first case requires that the incarnated Jesus was both fully human and fully God, since even as a human, the Son is still part of the one God.

And the last case denies that Jesus was ever God, so there is no issue of his having the divine nature.

But those that believe Jesus was God, a separate being equal (in power but not in authority) to the Father, can believe that the incarnated Jesus gave up his divine nature and became a fully human being. For these denominations, the answer about which nature was dominant is trivial: Jesus had only one nature, human nature.

Consider what some translations of Philippians 2:7 say about the human Jesus:

  • NLT: he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.
  • NIV: rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
  • YLT: but did empty himself, the form of a servant having taken, in the likeness of men having been made,

As a human being, Jesus had no divine nature; he voluntarily gave it up in order to become the Saviour.

All that he had was exactly what all fully converted and baptized Christians have, a connection to the Father through his holy spirit.

He of course always knew how to fully use that connection, but it was not a power that isn't equally available to other human beings. Fully baptized and converted Christians have a connection to the Father, because their human spirit has been combined with holy spirit. This newly formed entity, which contains both the original human spirit (what we consider as ourselves) and holy spirit, lives, grows, and develops within our physical selves:

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.
— 2 Corinthians 4:16 (NKJV)

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man
— Ephesians 3:14–16

At their resurrection, the "inner man" of all saved Christians will receive a divine nature, just as Jesus's divinity was restored to him at his Resurrection.

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

— 2 Peter 1.2–4

But most importantly, the very idea, that Jesus as a physical human being still also retained his divine powers, denies the most essential part of Christianity.

If Jesus weren't human, if he weren't capable of temptation and sin, if he didn't risk the penalty of eternal death, then what was his incarnation all about?
John 3:16 would be meaningless if the Father didn't literally "give" his Son, putting his eternal life at risk.

What was one of the biggest heresies that threatened the first-century Church?

"...Every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world" (1 John 4:3; compare 2 John 1:7).

Denying Jesus Christ's humanity leads people away from the truth of God. If He had not been truly human, then His sacrifice for our sins would be null and void. Yet this same heresy that afflicted the early Church persists even to this day, creating doubt and confusion as to Jesus Christ's true nature and role.

From Bible Study Course, Lesson 3, "Why Did God Create Man"
— Published by the United Church of God.

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    Please more clearly label what perspective this is, not just non-Trinitarian.
    – curiousdannii
    May 24, 2023 at 21:07
  • It's best to identify the perspective at the beginning, and if possible to use a label like Unitarian/Binitarian for those who aren't familiar with the UCoG (even I don't remember how they'd be classified).
    – curiousdannii
    May 26, 2023 at 4:12

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