Jesus drank the bitter cup for us…
After Jesus finished His high priestly intercessory prayer for His disciples, we learn the following from John’s gospel account – “When Jesus had spoken these words, He went out with His disciples over the Brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which He and His disciples entered. And Judas, who betrayed Him, also knew the place; for Jesus often met there with His disciples. Then Judas, having received a detachment of troops, and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, came there with lanterns, torches, and weapons. Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, ‘Whom are you seeking?’ They answered Him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus said to them, ‘I am He.’ And Judas, who betrayed Him, also stood with them. Now when He said to them, ‘I am He.’ they drew back and fell to the ground. Then He asked them again, ‘Whom are you seeking?’ And they said, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus answered, ‘I have told you that I am He. Therefore, if you seek Me, let these go their way.’ that the saying might be fulfilled which He spoke, ‘Of those whom You gave Me I have lost none.’ Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. So Jesus said to Peter, ‘Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?’” (John 18: 1-11)
How significant is this ‘cup’ that Jesus spoke of? Matthew, Mark, and Luke give an account of what happened in the garden before the soldiers came to arrest Jesus. Matthew records that after they arrived at the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus told the disciples to sit down while He went and prayed. Jesus told them that His soul was ‘exceedingly sorrowful,’ even to death. Matthew records that Jesus ‘fell on His face’ and prayed, “‘O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.'” (Matt. 26: 36-39) Mark records that Jesus fell on the ground and prayed, “’Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.’” (Mark 14: 36) Luke records that Jesus prayed, “’Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.’” (Luke 22: 42)
What was this ‘cup’ that Jesus spoke of? The ‘cup’ was His approaching sacrificial death. Sometime between 740 to 680 B.C., the prophet Isaiah prophesied of Jesus – “Surely He has born our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Isa. 53: 4-6) After Jesus’ death and resurrection, Peter wrote of Him – “who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness – by whose stripes you were healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” (1 Pet. 2: 24-25)
Do you realize what Jesus did for you? Without His sacrificial death, we would all be separated from God eternally. No matter how hard we try, we cannot merit our own salvation. We must recognize the total depravity of our inherited sin nature. Before understanding that we need salvation, we must realize that we are spiritually ‘lost,’ or in spiritual darkness. We must see ourselves clearly in our hopeless condition. Only those people who recognized their spiritual need, as well as their true depraved fallen condition, were ready to ‘hear’ and accept Jesus when He walked on earth. It is no different today. His Spirit must convict us that we need His salvation, before we turn to Him in faith, trusting in His righteousness, not our own.
Who is Jesus to you? Have you considered what the New Testament says about Him? He claimed to be God in flesh, who came to pay the eternal price for our sins. He drank the bitter cup. He gave His life for you and me. Won’t you turn to Him today. Paul taught us in Romans – “For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous. Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Rom. 5: 17-21)
What does it mean that the ‘just’ shall live by faith? (Gal. 3: 11) The ‘just’ are those who have been brought back into a relationship with God through the blood of Jesus Christ. We come to know God through trusting what Jesus did for us, and we live by continuing to trust in Him, not by trusting in our own righteousness.