Monday, March 1, 2004

The Cup

A week or two ago I was reading in Matthew 26 about Jesus and the disciples. I became intrigued by the two “cup” references that Jesus used.
Matthew 26:27. “And He took the cup and gave thanks, and gave it to them [the disciples], 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.”
In this reference to a cup, the disciples were glad to drink from it even though they didn’t yet understand what it meant. This cup became known as the cup of blessing. Drinking from this cup didn’t cost them any thing. They were glad to sit down to a table and eat and drink with Christ. But what they didn’t really understand, even though Jesus was telling them at the very minute they were eating and drinking, was that it was representing His blood and His body. The disciples had no earthly idea what Jesus was saying. The disciples heard Jesus but they were not listening. They just sang a hymn and then went unto the Mount of Olives. It was here that Jesus needed to talk to His Father. It was here that the disciples needed to sleep (maybe because they ate to much) even though they were commanded to watch and prayer. It was here that Jesus prayed that great priestly prayer:
“O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt... O My Father, if this cup may not pass away from me except I drink it, thy will be done.”
I find two words that describe this prayer: recoil and resolution. The word “recoil” means to want to get away from, as Jesus was saying “Let this cup pass from me.” In Hebrew 4:15 the Word says:
“For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like we are, yet without sin.”
So I believe that Jesus was being tempted at that very minute to recoil from drinking from the cup of bitterness. What was Jesus seeing in the cup as He prayed that day? I believe He was seeing what price He would be paying for the sin of all mankind from that day forward. He was seeing the pain and suffering that He would go through leading up to His death. I don’t believe the movie The Passion of Christ comes close to showing what Jesus went through. Jesus was seeing death itself in the cup!

The cup was frequently used in ancient times as a method of punishing criminals. A cup of poison was put into their hands and they were made to drink it. We are told that Socrates, that great teacher, was executed this way, by being made by the magistrates of Athens to drink a cup of poisonous hemlock. The difference I see is that Socrates and others that were executed this way were “made” to drink from the poison cup but Jesus Christ our Savior drank from the cup of death “willingly”! I am so glad he did. We have the privilege of drinking from the cup of blessing because Jesus drank from the cup of death.