Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Cup

For in the hand of the Lord there is a cup with foaming wine, well mixed, and he pours out from it, and all the wicked of the earth shall drain it down to the dregs.  ~Psalm 75:8
Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” ~Matthew 26:36

On the night of his betrayal and arrest, Jesus went to a familiar place and committed Himself to an even more familiar task… prayer. The hour had grown late and Jesus gave Himself to spend what little time He had left communing with God the Father in prayer, but this time it was different. Something Jesus had never experienced before had already begun; something dark, lonely, and terrifying had crept into His life and assaulted His humanity.

And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” ~Matthew 26:37,38

Taking three of the disciples a little farther with Him, Jesus asks them to watch with Him. Literally the word “watch” here means to keep awake and remain vigilant. These were the same three disciples who saw Jesus transfigured on the mountain top and revealed in His bright and shining glory! Now they were called to be witnesses of another type of transfiguration, not one of glory, but of humility, rejection, and submission. They were called to be witnesses to the Son of God receiving the “Cup of Wrath” for which He was destined.

And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” ~Matthew 26:39

Pastor’s message this last Sunday vividly described what was in this cup of wrath and the agony in which Jesus received it. The cup of wrath, as we learned, was reserved for the wicked and for those whom God would pour out His righteous judgment for their sin. When Jesus entered into that garden it was to take the place of those whom He came to save and receive their cup of God’s anger and judgment; He came to receive it and drink it all the way down to the dregs. Pastor noted for us the ingredients of that horrifying mixture in the cup, they were:
  • Sin – All the sins of those for whom He came to save.
  • Separation – He was to be separated from everyone, including and especially God the Father.
  • Submission – The Son would die to Himself, both literally and figuratively; it was needful.
  • Substitution – If anyone was to be saved, Jesus would have to receive the curse intended for them.
And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” ~Matthew 26:40,41

After spending some time in prayer, Jesus returned to the disciples He had left to watch with Him in prayer only to find them sleeping instead of praying. It was late at night, they had just finished eating the Passover meal, and Jesus had told them one of the twelve would betray Him this very night. They were sorrowful, tired, unsure of what would come next, and they soon gave in to temptation. When the Master needed their prayers the most, they gave in and slept.

Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. ~Matthew 26:42-44

This happened three times, Jesus going off to pray that the cup of God’s wrath be passed and returning to find His closest friends asleep instead of praying. Each of these three times Jesus submitted Himself to the reality of God’s will was for Him to take up the cross and die upon it for the sins of others. One of the greatest submissions of will took place in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus, seeing His separation from the Father and His receiving the burden of sin as He became sin for mankind, prayed for another way that man might be redeemed. No prayer in Jesus' life shows the perfection of His humanity better than the Gethsemane prayer. He would not have been human if He had not shrunk from the horrors of the cross. He made no attempt to argue His case and He did not suggest another way. Instead He simply prayed to the Father, expressing His desire for another path if possible, yet committing Himself to the Father's will.

Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.” ~Matthew 26:45,46

Let no mistake be made about it, the Son of God gave Himself willingly into the hands of those who would arrest Him, condemn Him, and crucify Him. Jesus would take on the role of a sinner rightly condemned to death having never sinned or known any sin. He would drink fully the cup of wrath God had reserved for those who rightly stood judged for sin so that they instead would receive a different cup, the cup of God’s blessing! Oh what a marvelous Savior we have!

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. ~2 Corinthians 5:21

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