Here’s audio of Glen’s sermon from which this is taken:
It’s Maundy Thursday and the next 24 hours is a story of two cups.
One cup was offered in the upper room. The other cup was offered in the Garden of Gethsemane.
One cup Jesus gives to us. One cup He drinks for Himself
One cup is a cup for the forgiveness of sins. One cup is a cup of wrath and judgement.
One cup brings life. One cup brings death.
One cup is a cup of blessing. The other is a cup of curse.
Here is the Easter story – Jesus drank the cup of curses so that we can drink the cup of blessings. In other words, Easter is about a wonderful exchange. That’s how Christians for thousands of years have described it: a wonderful exchange. Jesus takes the curses that we deserve in order to give us the blessings that only He deserves. He doesn’t deserve the Garden of Gethsemane and we don’t deserve the feast. But here comes the exchange: Christ’s death for our life.
Think of that first cup…
27 Then Jesus took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.’
Imagine that blood-red wine poured out – “that’s my life poured out for many” says Jesus. What kind of God is this, who drains His very life-blood for the world? On the cross Jesus would prove these words to be more than poetic. He would be poured out so that we can enter His Father’s kingdom. And how is that kingdom described? A feast. In the words of Isaiah 25:6, “a banquet of aged wine – the best of meats and the finest of wines.”
This feast is free for us, costly for Christ. The second cup shows just how costly…
37 Jesus took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” 39Going 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.”
Luke’s Gospel tells us that Jesus was sweating blood as He prayed. Blood vessels were bursting all over His body, He is overwhelmed to the point of death and falls flat on His face. Why? Because of the prospect of this cup. Verse 39:
“My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
Here is a very different cup. It’s a cup that brings curse and death, and throughout the Old Testament the prophets spoke of this cup.
In the hand of the LORD is a cup full of foaming wine mixed with spices; he pours it out, and all the wicked of the earth drink it down to its very dregs. (Psalm 75:8)
This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, said to me: “Take from my hand this cup filled with the wine of my wrath and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it. When they drink it, they will stagger and go mad because of the sword I will send among them.” (Jeremiah 25:15-16)
The cup represents the judgement of the whole world. In Revelation 14 the image is picked up again:
“If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, 10 he, too, will drink of the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulphur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. (Revelation 14:9-10)
Now we see why Jesus is overwhelmed at the prospect of this cup. All hell is distilled in it. For Jesus, the cup is the cross where He was about to die. That godforsaken death is the cup which you and I deserve to drink.
We don’t deserve the cup of blessing, the cup of forgiveness, the cup of life. We do deserve this cup: the cup of curses, the cup of wrath, the cup of eternal death. But what a wonderful exchange. We get the cup of life. Our Lord volunteers for the cup of death.
In the Garden of Gethsemane the prospect is clear for Jesus. Either He goes to hell, or we do. And after wrestling in prayer for an hour He arises with fresh resolve and He says “Father, let it be me.”
It’s the wonderful exchange. He takes hell, we get heaven. He takes the curses, we get the blessings. He takes death, we receive life.
You’ll often hear the name of Jesus, on the streets, in the workplace, on TV. Mostly used as a swear word. But however it’s said, it means the same thing. Jesus: He drank the cup. Jesus: He gave His life. Jesus: He died for me.