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By , on February 27th, 2012

The Cup of Suffering

In these weeks of Passion, we remember the suffering and death of Jesus Christ. That is what the word Passion means; it means suffering. Let us pause for a moment and meditate on the cup of suffering that Jesus drank to its bitter dregs. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus was pressed down with bloody sweat as He faced the bitter, bitter cup of His Father’s wrath. If we think of it in human terms, no one likes to endure the wrath of their father. Whether deserved or undeserved, children will always shrink back from their father’s anger. Even as adults, we would rather have the approval and love of our father than endure his displeasure.

We find Jesus, in His humanity, shrinking back from His Father’s wrath. He prays in Matthew 26:39, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” Does this mean that Jesus did not want to go the way of the cross? On the contrary, He had committed Himself to die for sinners such as we are. He is praying for complete submission to His Father’s will as He faced the awful weight of God’s wrath against the sins of His people. The eternal fury of a holy God would rest upon Christ for these hours. He would be cut off from the Father’s favorable presence, all comfort and support lifted as Christ hung suspended between heaven and earth. Christ looked into the cup and saw the bitter, black wine of God’s wrath ready to be poured out upon Him for your sin, child of God.

And how do we know that He was willing, and that He was not just attempting to wiggle out from beneath this punishment for sin. After having prayed three times the same words, we read in verse 46, “Rise now and let us be going.” Neither did Jesus sin, by shrinking back from the cup that He faced. It was a reaction of His human nature and that is why He prayed, “Not my will but thine be done.” This shows us again that Jesus is the perfect Substitute, the only one who could drink this cup of God’s wrath to its last drop.

For those who have drunk the cup of salvation, you will never know what the wrath of God is because Christ has taken it away. He is the propitiation for our sins. He is the umbrella as it were that deflects the wrath of God from us as we shelter in Him time and again. The sobering contrast is that for you who do not believe in Christ, you will be exposed and unshielded from the wrath of God in eternity. The beauty of these Passion weeks is not only for believers to remember the suffering and death of Christ as He grappled with the cup of His suffering for us, but the beauty of Passion is also found in the fact that Christ is offered perhaps more clearly and succinctly for the lost who need to find shelter from the wrath of God against sin. Where are you finding shelter this Passion season?

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