My church family is somewhat unique. We live close to a university that trains people for ministry, so part of our family is made up of college students in the throes of learning. Some of those young men preach for us on occasion. It is a lot of fun to watch them grow in the ability God gave them.
Last night, one of our college guys gave the sermon, and I just had to share here because it almost blew me away.
He started with a cup. He talked about the cupbearer, like what Nehemiah was in the Old Testament. His job was to taste the king’s food to make sure it wasn’t poisoned. It was a very important job in the royal court.
But that isn’t where our friend was going.
He talked about a King who drank the cup for His people. He talked of King Jesus.
In that Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus was agonizing over “this cup.” He asked for the cup to be taken away. Many of us are probably very familiar with this passage. But did you ever stop to think about that cup? What was it exactly?
I never think much about it. I just gloss over that cup as the suffering Christ was about to endure. But it was so much more than just the suffering.
Christ was about to drink the full cup of God’s wrath.
This is the cup that, throughout the centuries, was tasted by a sinning Israel. It was tasted by the nations who called God “enemy” instead of friend. It was always taken away after a time and never fully emptied.
But with Jesus, He would drink the whole cup. He willingly, knowingly drank that cup. He knew exactly what it contained. He dreaded it but knew it had to be done.
That cup contains God’s righteous anger over our sins: past, present and future. We often think that the physical suffering Christ endured was what paid our price. This is only half correct. If Jesus hung on that cross without bearing the full load of our sins, His sacrifice would have been in vain.
No, it was crucial that Christ take that awful, bitter cup. It was crucial that God the Father has to turn away from His own Son, because God’s holy eyes could not even gaze on that wretchedness.
The full wrath of God.
This whole transaction happened for one reason though: because God loves us. He wants fellowship with us; a fellowship that cannot happen so long as there is a wall of sin blocking the way.
Selah. Stop and think on that.
There is no sin outside the forgiveness of God. Christ took that cup of judgment and righteous anger upon Himself to pay for every single heinous thing we have ever done. There is nothing and no one outside the reach of God’s mercy.
We have all been there. Thinking that we cannot possibly be forgiven or have victory over some sin. But it is entirely possible. Christ is not surprised by the severity of our shortcomings. He is very familiar with them, in fact. He has, in a sense, “worn” that sin.
It’s good and right to ponder all this from time to time. We should have had to drink that cup of wrath. We should have suffered. We should have been abandoned.
But it has all been done for us.
And all we can “do” is trust in this sacrifice that Jesus made. Depend on it. Cling to it.
Easter is a time to re-embrace Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection. The hope of millions upon millions is as fresh today as it was 2,000 years ago. We can rejoice and praise God with our whole being for this gift that was so utterly undeserved, yet given to us so generously.