|“This is what your Sovereign Lord says, |
your God, who defends his people:
See, I have taken out of your hand
the cup that made you stagger;
from that cup the goblet of my
wrath, you will never drink again.”
Often in our culture, we lift the cup in celebration. That use of the cup signifies light-hearted camaraderie. Not so the cup in Scripture. Here, most often, the cup represents suffering arising from the wrath of God.
In Matthew 20:20-22, the mother of Zebedee’s sons, James and John, came to Jesus asking if He would grant her the honor of having her sons sit on either side of Him in His kingdom. His response:
“You don’t know what you are asking.” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?”
When Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, we read in Matthew 26:39:
Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
The cup indicates the retribution for sin that God needed to “pour out” on Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins. He, the perfect Lamb, obeyed God’s plan and drank that cup for us.
In our Christian tradition, we pass the cup to one another during the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. We are part of the Body of Christ and need each other in the suffering of discipleship.
From Seek Treasures in Small Fields by Joan Puls, 1 I read the following:
Draining the cup of suffering is the final test of our sincerity in claiming discipleship. We can expect no right or left hand seats of honor, no prerogatives of power or monopoly on truth, no thrones, no outsiders. But we can have the privilege of holding one another, broken and bruised, in the embrace of our circle, of keeping watch with the dying or keeping vigil with the condemned, of walking alongside the exiled and the weary, of standing at the foot of the cross, not in despair or in bitterness, but open to the miracle of the pending resurrection.
Because Jesus drank the cup of God’s wrath for us, in the presence of our community of faith, we can drink our own cup of suffering that relates us to Him.
This Lenten season, when you take the cup as part of the Lord’s Supper, feast upon His obedience for our sake, and commit yourself to accept the cup He has for you as part of the fellowship of His sufferings.
May we be able to say with Paul, as he wrote in Philippians 3:10:
I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
|1 Quoted in Shawchuck, Norman and Rueben P. Job. A Guide to Prayer for All Who Seek God. Nashville, TN: Upper Room Books, 2003.|