Take This Cup

Jesus knew when and how He was going to die.

Before the world was created, before He took human flesh and drew His first breath, before His hands were nailed to a piece of wood, Jesus knew when and how He would die.

The Lord spent the final evening with his disciples honouring the Old Testament laws—a celebration of the first and greatest of the feast days, the Passover. When they had eaten their meal and shared in the first celebration of the new feast, the Lord’s Supper, Jesus led them to the Garden of Gethsemane. Leaving eight of the disciples near the gate He led His three dearest friends deeper into the Garden.

Then He said to them, ‘My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch.’ He went a little farther, and fell on the ground, and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. And He said, ‘Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.’ (Mark 14:33–35 NIV)

Luke also relates this story but adds: ‘His sweat became like great drops of blood falling to the ground.’

His agony reached such intensity that His capillaries began to burst, mixing blood with His sweat.

He called out to God that if it was possible, His Father would remove this cup from Him.

Did Jesus fear those He knew were coming to lead Him to the cross? Did He fear whips, chains, thorns and spikes? Perhaps his humanity recoiled at the thought of ruthless brutality, yet at the beginning of His earthly ministry Jesus had spoken to His disciples about just such an event.

In Matthew 10:28 we read: ‘do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.’ In the Garden He prayed to God, asking if He might ‘take this cup away.’

To understand what Jesus’ words mean, we must turn to the Old Testament where we find continual references to a cup symbolising God’s judgment. Consider the following passages: ‘You are filled with shame instead of glory. You also–drink! … The cup of the Lord’s right hand will be turned against you, And utter shame will be on your glory.’ (Habakkuk 2:16 NKJ)

‘Upon the wicked He will rain coals; Fire and brimstone and a burning wind, shall be the portion of their cup.’ (Psalm 11:6 NKJ)

Time and again the Bible speaks of the cup of God’s wrath which will be poured out against sinners. It is a cup of horror, desolation, shame and destruction.

It is a cup filled to the brim with the perfect, justified wrath of a perfectly just God.

Before the world was created, Jesus had agreed to drink this cup to save the ones He loves. He would not just take a sip of it, but would drink to the bottom of the cup, until there was nothing left.

When Jesus considered the events that were to come, what was it He feared? He did not fear men, but rather feared His own Father! As He waited, He looked to the cup of wrath.

He feared the punishment He would have to face for my sin! He feared the punishment He would have to endure for your sin!

Just a few short hours after, Jesus’ battered body was nailed to the wooden cross. He drank that cup. He faced God’s judgment and drank in the horror, desolation, shame and destruction that are rightfully mine. How the Father must have felt: at the time His Son needed Him most, He was unable to comfort Him. Jesus was utterly and completely forsaken by His own Father.

Finally, hours after He began, Jesus did what no other person ever could do—He emptied that cup, drinking down the last drops of God’s wrath. They were consumed by the One who loves me more than I can ever know.

Jesus then shouted out in triumph: ‘It is finished!’ Knowing His task was complete, Jesus turned His gaze to Heaven and said: ‘Father, into Your hands I commit My Spirit.’

At that moment He yielded up His spirit and returned to fellowship with His Father. Forsakenness was replaced by communion; pain by exaltation. All Heaven must have rejoiced as Jesus returned to His Father
in triumph!

How can we but stand in awe of what Jesus did. There is nothing we can add to this work to make it more complete, nothing we can do to make it less perfect.

But what we can and must do is:

Fear!

Fear, as Jesus did, the One who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Turn!

Turn to Him who drank the cup, acknowledging that He drank the cup of wrath meant for you. Turn to Jesus, praising Him for the completeness of the sacrifice that is too great for us to comprehend.

Rejoice!

Be thankful that Christ drank the cup to the bottom. Be thankful, knowing that all of eternity would not be enough time for you to drink that cup. Jesus’ sacrifice was so great, so complete, that what He drank during His time on the cross, you could not drink if you had the rest of eternity to do so.

Rest!

Rest in Him and in His infinite, complete, awesome love. Rejoice that your cup is empty, consumed in the greatest act of love the world could ever know.

A thousand songs, a thousand books, a thousand words cannot express adequate thanks for the sacrifice Jesus made.

Yet let praise and thanks flow from your lips and from your heart, honouring the One who gave all He had for you and for me.

About the author

Tim Challies

Proper introductions begin with names, so let me tell you how to pronounce mine. It’s pronounced CHALL-eez and rhymes with “valleys” and “rallies.” It’s quite simple, really, but is almost always the first question I’m asked. I am a Christian, Husband and Father of three. I worship and serve as an elder at Grace Fellowship Church in Toronto. I have written 5 books and write daily articles on my blog to encourage others.

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