“Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, ‘O my Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done'” — Matthew 26:42.
The night before His death found the Lord Jesus in the Garden of Gehtsemane, fighting an intense battle with the forces of darkness. He was, figuratively speaking, looking over the brim of a boiling and caustic concoction. It was the cup of God’s wrath, the Father’s anger and judgement over the sins of the world. For Jesus, drinking this cup meant becoming personally responsible for all sins. It meant having His Father punish Him as THE great and only sinner of all time.
The very prospect of drinking this cup was enough to kill our Lord, for He said on this occasion: “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death” (Mt. 26:38). Only the strengthening of an angel sent from heaven gave Him the capacity to continue His journey to the cross. Jesus prayed that this horrible cup might pass from Him, but was satisfied with His Father’s answer, and resolute in carrying out His will. Scene by scene the awful events again unfold before us — the arrest, the mock trial, the taunting, the spitting, the whip, the crown of thorns, and finally the cross. And there He presses the cup of wrath to His lips, and drinks deeply, fully, of our damnation. His cry: “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” demonstrates the true bitterness of the potion that He drained in our place.
But drain it He did — and the cup of God’s wrath is now empty! “There is therefore now NO condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1).
Yes, our Father does have a cup for us to drink, but it is nothing at all like the cup of wrath that Jesus drank for us. Rather, it is that cup that David wrote of in the 23rd psalm: “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.”
A sweet, clear, refreshing drink is freely offered event to sinners such as us. We are drawn to God’s grace, through His Word, out of the desert of sin and shame, and given living water to drink. It is God’s grace, freely given to us in the person of Jesus Christ. It is the inheritance of eternal life through Him, and the privilege of living our lives for Him until He comes to take us home.
How can we ever show our thankfulness for God’s grace in giving us the cup of blessing when we had deserved only the cup of wrath? — By trusting alone in His Son, and telling of His grace to others, as the psalmist writes: “I will take up the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD” (Ps. 116:13).
O Savior, who on Calvary
Drank to its dregs my bitter cup of woe,
I sing eternal praise to Thee,
Who makes my cup of blessing overflow!
— Pastor Bruce Naumann