The Cup

October 11, 2021

But Jesus answered and said, "You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?" They said to Him, "We are able" (Matthew 20:22).

Some of you may remember, when you were a child, having to take some really awful tasting medicine when you had a cold, flue, or upset stomach. Back home in Arkansas, mom and grandma (who lived next door) would treat us with ‘home remedies’ when we fell ill. Some of the liquids they gave us were nasty - oily and bitter, etc. Julie Andrews was right in singing, “Just a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down!” Even today some of the modern medicines taste horrible. And I hate it when the doctor says, “Drink it all.”

In the days of Jesus, when someone said to ‘drink the cup’ they meant ‘drink it all’ - not just a taste, not just a sip, but to drink every last drop. And ‘the cup’ was not a reference to wine or water or tea. It was a reference to death, most often by execution. Socrates, the ancient Greek philosopher, was sentenced to death following a trial for impiety. He was forced to drink a cup of hemlock - bitter liquid that was the official poison of the Athenians.

Jesus used the term ‘the cup’ in the same manner here. The cup Jesus was about to drink was the cup of suffering and death for our sin. It would be the same cup the disciples would drink for following Him. All of them died a martyr’s death except John, who would be persecuted all of his adult life, but would die an old man of natural causes. 

However, the cup that Jesus drank was far more potent than that of the disciples, or of modern day Christians. It was more than the physical suffering of the cross and the emotional suffering of being abandoned by His disciples. The cup of His suffering was filled with the sins of the world that would be placed upon Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)  For He [God the Father] made Him who knew no sin [Jesus Christ] to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. This anticipated suffering of Jesus was so intense it moved Him to pray in the Garden, O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will (Matthew 26:39) as He sweat drops of blood (Luke 22:44).

As horrible as the cups and table spoons of home remedies were to me as a child, nothing can compare to the cup Jesus drank to buy my freedom from the presence, power, and penalty of sin. It was indeed a bitter cup beyond all imagination. But how sweet the reward for having drank it to the full.

“Thank You, Lord Jesus, for suffering and dying so that I might be saved. It makes my understanding of sin all the more horrible knowing what it cost to take my punishment upon Yourself. May Your name be praised forever, Amen.”


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