"The Cup" (April 2010)
“Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy. And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.” (Matthew 26:36-44) This month I want to talk about this cup that Jesus was referring to in His prayers. He prayed three times for it to pass from Him. Why didn’t He want to drink it? Luke records that He was in such agony over this cup that His sweat became drops of blood. “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” (Luke 22:44) In all the recorded prayers prayed by Jesus, this was the first time that He ever questioned or was hesitant to do what the Father had commanded Him to do. Why? What was in this cup that would cause Him to pray such a prayer? What could have been so bad about one “little” cup- after all, it wasn’t a quart or gallon that He was to drink?
Let’s look at the contents of the cup. What was in the cup was the sins of the whole world. It was the sin of every person from Adam to the last person born on earth in the future. It was the sin of multiplied billions upon billions of people. It was filled with every evil imagination of every heart. It was filled with every wicked deed done by mankind. It was full of sexual perversion, abuse, incest, sodomy, homosexuality, rape, adultery, fornication, lust and every other vile immoral act. It was filled with the sins of murder, lying, cheating and stealing. In the cup was also blasphemies, cursing, bitterness, pride, anger, hatred. Drug abuse, alcohol abuse, pornography- every addiction that holds a person in bondage was in it. Depression, rejection, fear, anxiety, grief and sorrow were all in it as well. It was filled with every spiritual, physical and emotional issue known to mankind. The sins of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes and the pride of life were all in the cup that was set before Him to drink. “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” (1 John 2:16)
To drink the cup meant that Jesus would take the sins of the world upon Himself. “He was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many.” (Isaiah 53:12) In doing so it would bring separation between Him and the Father because God could not look upon sin because He is holy. “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46) “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” (Isaiah 59:2)
By taking our sins upon Himself, He also became the object of God’s judgment and punishment upon sin. While God is a good and loving God, He is also a just and holy God. His holiness dictates that He judges and punishes sin. “For the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23a) “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many.” (Hebrews 9:27,28a) “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.” (Isaiah 53:4-6,10,11)
It is no wonder that Jesus prayed for the cup to pass from Him. But where did the cup come from? It wasn’t Jesus’ cup-- He was sinless. “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21) “And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:9) As we have already said it was our cup- in it were the sins of fallen humanity. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6) “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one. For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:10,23) You’ve heard the expression, “He was born with a silver spoon in his mouth.” Well, we may not have been born with a silver spoon in our mouth, but we were all born with cup. It was the cup that Adam received when he disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden and we inherited it from him. “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” (Romans 5:12) The cup that we inherited was a cup of death. “For the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6;23a) “...sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” (James 1:15b)
Even though Jesus prayed for the cup to pass from Him, He went ahead and drank it although He knew what lie ahead- He wasn’t ignorant of what He was going to have to face. So, why? Why would He drink it when He wasn't guilty? Why would He take the sins of the world upon Himself? Why would He go through the suffering and torture of the cross? Why would He submit to death and separation from God? “And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” (Matthew 26:39) His prayer for it to pass was because He knew what it would cost Him, yet He still drank it because it was the Father’s will. What was the Father's will? The will of God was twofold. First, His will was that none should perish, that all should have eternal life, that we be saved, that we be healed, redeemed and reconciled back to Him. “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) “To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:19) Second, His will was that Jesus would have to drink a cup in order for that to happen- a cup of rejection, sorrow, pain, beating and crucifixion. When He submitted to the will of God, He submitted to both.
The things that Jesus suffered were all part of the will of the Father. The things that were accomplished through what He went through was also the will of the Father. It was the will of the Father that Jesus was pierced and hung on a cross to die, because it was the will of God that we have everlasting life- the cross provided the way. Jesus knew that if He did not take up the cup and go to the cross that there would be no way for the will of the Father to be accomplished because there would be no way for us to be saved and have eternal life. “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) We couldn’t save ourselves. We couldn’t make ourselves right in God’s sight. We couldn’t do enough good deeds to merit forgiveness for our sins. We could never be righteous before a holy God on our own. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” (Titus 3:5) “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8,9) “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh.” (Romans 8:3) “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.” (Hebrew 10:4) “Without shedding of blood is no remission.” (Hebrews 9:22b) It was also the will of the Father that Jesus be beaten with stripes on His back because it was the will of the Father that we be healed-- "by His stripes we are healed". (Isaiah 53:5)
The will of God that Jesus submitted to was one of suffering and joy. Jesus drank the cup because of the joy that was set before Him. Joy? Where was the joy in being beaten? Where was the joy in the torture that He endured at the cross? The joy was not the crucifixion itself, but the joy was you and me. “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2) Although Jesus knew that suffering was coming, He looked past the suffering and got a glimpse into the future where He saw you and me with Him in His kingdom forever. The joy of that knowledge overshadowed the pain that was coming and gave Him the strength to take up the cup and drink. “For the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10) Not only was there joy in knowing that we would have the opportunity to be with Him if He would do this, but He also knew that having us with Him forever would give His Father great joy too. That knowledge gave Him joy, and that joy become His own source of strength to endure.
When Jesus drank the cup, He took on our sins, our punishment for sin, provided eternal life for us and opened up a door of access to the Father. He didn’t stop short of accomplishing all the Father’s will. When you think about what all He endured, the fatigue, the beatings, the trial, the blood loss, etc., you have to wonder how did He survive to make it to the cross. How did He continue on after having received such a horrific beating by the Roman soldier? “And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified. And the soldiers led him away into the hall, called Praetorium; and they call together the whole band. And they clothed him with purple, and platted a crown of thorns, and put it about his head, and began to salute him, Hail, King of the Jews! And they smote him on the head with a reed, and did spit upon him, and bowing their knees worshipped him. And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple from him, and put his own clothes on him, and led him out to crucify him.” (Mark 15:15-20) How was He able to continue after He fell under the weight of the cross? “And as they led him away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus.” (Luke 23:26) How was He able to make it through the jeering crowds? I read a doctor’s account of the crucifixion once and it was horrible. It said that Jesus was beaten so badly that even His internal organs was exposed. With immeasurable pain racking His body how did He continue up Calvary’s hill? The Bible tells us that the life is in the blood. If you lose too much blood you will die. Jesus lost a tremendous amount of blood, yet He didn’t die in the street, He kept going. What kept Him from dying somewhere along the way? Why didn’t He die when they drove the nails into His hands and feet? Jesus didn’t even die when they hoisted the cross up, but instead He hung there for three hours before He did die? Why and how was that possible? As I already said, “Jesus didn’t stop short”. He didn’t die before it was finished. He didn’t die before He had drank every last drop that was in the cup. When He finished drinking the cup, then He said, “It is finished”, and gave up the ghost. “When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.” (John 9:30) No one took His life- they didn’t kill Him- He laid His life down. “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.” (John 10:17,18) That meant that He was in charge of when He would die and He was not going to allow death to take Him before He had finished the purpose for which He came. I believe that at each place along the way He looked into the cup and said, “It isn’t finished yet, there is still some more left to drink”. Throughout the whole ordeal of the cross, He was drinking another swallow for us and when the cup was empty, when even all the dregs were gone, it was finished- our salvation was paid in full- and He died.
I want to talk about another cup for a minute. If you look back up a few scriptures before our opening scriptures you will see that on the same night that Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane for the cup to pass from Him, there was another cup that was mentioned. “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” (Matthew 26:26-28) Just prior to Jesus and His disciples going to the garden they were eating and drinking at the Last Supper. During that supper Jesus offered them a cup. It wasn’t the same cup that He was going to drink just a few hours later. It wasn’t a cup that was filled with the dregs of sin. It wasn’t a cup filled with wrath. It wasn’t a cup of separation. It wasn’t a cup of death. Instead it was a cup that was just the opposite. It was the cup that represented His shed blood for the remission of sin. It was the cup of forgiveness, mercy, healing and restoration. It was the cup of the New Testament- a better way, and establishment of a new covenant between God and man. It was the cup of life.
On that night there were two cups: one was a cup of death and one was a cup of life; one belonged to us and one belonged to Jesus. On that night there was also an exchange of cups made. Jesus made the choice to exchange cups with us and drink our cup of death and give us His cup of life. Today He is offering the same exchange. I want to ask you, “Are you still holding on to the cup of sin and death that you were born with?” Jesus already drank your cup- all of it. And He is offering you His cup of life just like He did to His disciples that night at supper. Have you taken His cup? Have you made the exchange? Are you drinking from the cup of life now? Jesus paid the price for you to be able to drink from a new cup. It was a very expensive price- it cost His blood. If you are still drinking from the old cup that was full of death you don’t have to, the cup is empty, Jesus drank it all--- “It is finished”!