Summary: The cup of Jesus was seen several times during the last week before the cross. This lesson centers on His cup and why it had to be drunk.
Am I Not To Drink The Cup?
A. About this time of year, 2000 or so years ago, the greatest event in the history of mankind took place. It took place in a country that most people saw only as a tool, no longer as a theocracy. It took place in the shadows and cover of darkness. It took place because the hearts of men were evil and did not want the light to expose them. It took place amid people who were friends. It took place so that one could take my place.
B. This event was not singular, but a part of a much larger picture. It was not an event or single moment, but a part of series of events that culminated in about a week’s time period. This event is one that people have become so familiar with that many have lost the magnitude of it.
C. I want us to take a look at symbolism this morning. I want us to wrap ourselves in the moment of what the Bible tells us and strive to grasp some of the pain and glory that took place. I want us to struggle through some of the questions and incidents to see if maybe, we might come away today with a greater sense of what it means to drink the cup of Christ.
I. The Cup
A. James and John came to Jesus and wanted to ask him a favor. What they wanted was that when Jesus came in his glory, or kingdom, they wanted to sit on his right and left. When Matthew records this moment we read (Matt. 20:22-23). It is an interesting statement and one that I don’t believe James and John, or their mother, understood. This cup? What cup?
B. During Passover week as they gathered for a special meal, Jesus takes a cup and tells them all to drink from it. Matt. 26:28-29. Again, I don’t believe the disciples fully understood what Jesus was talking about. This cup symbolism keeps coming up during this week, but now it begins to take form. Something about the cup is equated to blood, to the blood of Jesus.
C. After the dinner, they sing a song and 11 of the disciples go with Jesus to a garden as was their custom. But this night it was different. It was different in tone, in feeling, in prayer.
D. Jesus takes Peter, James and John a little farther into the garden than the others. He asks them to spend the night keeping watch and in prayer. Then, Jesus goes alone, deeper into the garden where, overcome with sorrow, Jesus falls to ground in prayer unlike others that we have recorded in scripture. Mark 14:36, “Abba, Father, everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” This cup that is set before Jesus is one that is greater than anything else he has taken upon while in the form of man. It is a cup that if there was another way he would take it, but Jesus knows that this cup is not about what he desires, but what God desires.
E. We come back to our opening reading in John 18. After Jesus is done praying, Judas comes to the garden. He comes, not alone, but with a detachment of soldiers carrying weapons. Simon Peter, who said he was willing to die, drew his sword and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right hear. With that action, Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” That is the question examine today.
F. What is this symbolic cup that has been talked about over the past week? The cup seems to signify the lot in life, whether ones prosperity or adversity. In this case, the cup is symbolic of the final suffering of Christ that is seen culminated at cross. While the cup of the table and the cup in the garden are not the same, they both concern the death of Jesus.
II. Am I Not To Drink The Cup?
A. John is the only writer of the gospels to give us this information. What we seen in Matthew, Mark and Luke is the struggle that Jesus faced in garden prayer when he was alone. What you see happening in the garden is the last temptation of Christ. It is Satan, who is not omnipotent, striving to get Jesus to draw back from the cross. The cross becomes center to the Christian faith and the cup that Jesus was to drink symbolized all that was before him.
B. The question is given by Jesus in the negative. It was not intended to be answered by Peter, but was both a question and statement given by Jesus. This cup that Peter did not want Jesus to drink was, as the Psalmist says, “the cup of salvation.” Ps. 116:13