I. After His Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, not as the Warrior King they wanted and were expecting, but as the Lamb of God, Jesus now moves deliberately to His destiny with His death on the Cross on Friday.
Even though He knew what was going to happen to Him this week, as He pointed out to His disciples in Luke 18:31-32, “Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, ‘We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. He will be turned over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him, spit on him, flog him and kill him;’” His actual encounter with sin as the Father’s sacrificial lamb had yet to begin.
It begins now! It is late Thursday night. He had been with His disciples in the Upper Room earlier where they celebrated the Feast of the Passover together; where He washed their feet to model a servants heart to them and where He instituted His Lord’s Supper to give us all a lasting picture of what His taking our place on the Cross is all about. Now we find Jesus in the Garden with His face to the ground according to Matthew (26:39). His actual suffering for our sins begins here as Jesus looks into “this cup” for the first time; and it is not a pretty sight!
Today there will be no jokes. I am far too stunned with what I’ve been looking at all week to do anything but stand in awe of Jesus. I feel like a soldier returning from the front lines after seeing the carnage of war first hand. Today I want us all to experience Jesus’ suffering for us at least enough so we can appreciate what He did for us between Thursday night and Friday afternoon!
I’m going to be sharing three video clips and my thoughts about what took place during this time as we move towards sharing our LS together. When we do partake of the LS elements, both the cup and the bread will be passed at the same time. Please take some time to pray before you partake of these elements. Pray alone or with your family and friends and then receive the cup and the bread when you are ready. The LS is for those who are already born again believers in Jesus, so only partake in the supper if you have personally received Jesus as your Savior and Lord already. Also, please confess any known sin in your life first. I’m sure you will see very clearly by then why this is so important.
In verses 39-42 we see Jesus in the Garden asking His Father, if it were possible, if there was another way, to please remove “this cup” from Him. He wasn’t trying to avoid God’s will, but to avoid “this” suffering if there was another way to accomplish God’s will without having to face this horrible “cup.” In other words, Jesus was beginning to experience, to be crushed by, the awful weight of the sin of the world; and it was a horrible thing for Him to have to face.
II. This Cup is a . . .
a. Cup of SUFFERING - The Garden
The first video clip is very short, so don’t blink. It if from Focus on the Family’s Faith Lessons Video Series by Ray Vander Laan. Ray is in Capernaum, a city along the Sea of Galilee, and he is explaining the process for getting olive oil out of the olives. Let’s take a look . . .
“In order to extract the olive oil, the Jews used an olive press – a “gethsemene.” They lowered heavy stone slabs onto baskets of olives that had already been crushed in the olive crusher. Gradually the enormous pressure of the slab’s weight squeezed the oil out of the olive pulp, and the oil ran into a pit. There it was collected in jars. The image of Gethsemene . . . provides a vivid image of the suffering (Jesus) experienced that night. The weight of the world’s sin pressed down upon Him in the same way a heavy stone slab pressed down upon the olives in the olive press . . . Jesus agonized under the pressing weight of all humanity’s sin . . . As Jesus prayed, the emotional weight of what would be laid on Him was so heavy that it literally squeezed His own blood out of Him (verse 44).”
(1) Jesus was in anguish – severe mental struggle – not about whether to obey; that was settled, but with the horror of what He was now facing – v44. Jesus was seeing sin in its rawest form, which, as a human, He had never seen before. When I served as an MP in the Army we watched a video called, Sexual Deviants. It was a “police-photo” reality portrayal of the vile behavior of some of the inmates we would be dealing with in the stockade. We had never seen the real evil that sexual deviants can be involved in, but we needed to in order to do our jobs safely.
In the Garden of Gethsemene, Jesus, for the first time experienced the filthiness of sin, its stench (rotting bodies) and its putrid nature. Have you ever seen the reality TV show called, Fear Factor? People willingly are immersed in the most vile and offensive creepy gooey yuk! Here Jesus is being immersed in our sin; and it exceeded all of His expectations. It crushed Him emotionally, so much that He sweat blood and came near death. And, in the darkness was the Devil himself, tempting Jesus to avoid all of this suffering. After all, He wasn’t responsible for any of it! I can’t do this justice to this scene. Like Mel Gibson’s scourging scene of Jesus in The Passion of the Christ still fell far short of reality of Jesus’ scourging, we can only imagine the horror Jesus faced in reality.
(2) Can we relate to Jesus’ suffering at all? Jesus was “suffocating” under the weight of our sin. When I as a teenage I attempted to change out a transmission in my 1957 Ford. In the process I was nearly crushed when the transmission almost fell on me. Even now I have trouble getting an MRI or being in tight spaces. Have you ever been under extreme emotional pressure? How did you feel? Trapped? Hopeless? Anxious? Alone? The need for friends to stand by you?
Jesus was “overwhelmed with sorrow” according to Matthew’s account. He needed His friends to stay by his side, but they didn’t understand His need. He needed strength to face the full measure of devotion being asked of Him by His Father.
(3) Knowing His need and the source to meet it, Jesus prayed. For Him to be able to do His Father’s will, He needed strengthening. (Commentary: ”Jesus laid all of His emotional stress before His Father on the altar of prayer.” See verse 43.)
Jesus knew his disciples would be tempted to deny Him, so He called them to pray for strength too. “Prayer enables us not to fall into temptation. “ It is avoided by our communion with our Father and our continued dependence upon Him; the same way Jesus survived being tempted.”
As the Bible tells us in 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”
The only way they would be ready for what was ahead was to prepare for it; to be strengthened. It was the only way Jesus could do it! He prayed and was faithful. They didn’t pray, so they failed! Jesus is our Model for faithfulness too. We need to be a people of prayer lest we fall into temptation because of our weakness.
b. Cup of SACRIFICE - The Cross
We’re going to look at a second video clip. This one is of Jesus’ crucifixion itself. A medical doctor gives us some sense of the physical suffering Jesus faced.
(1) He suffered physically. In 1 Peter 2:24, the Bible says, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” I picture a Fireman carrying someone from a burning building; he’s carrying the full weight of the man on his shoulders to rescue him. On the Cross, Jesus ”bore” the full weight of the penalty of our sin – our death. As God’s Word says, “The wages of sin is death . . ..” Romans 6:23.
Remember last Sunday, as Jesus rode into town on Palm Sunday (Vander Laan: “It’s almost as if God is saying to the world, ‘Here is My Lamb. Will you choose Him?’”) Jesus is God’s Sacrifice offered as a substitute for our sins! Jesus, in the Garden, was asking for “this cup of sacrifice” to be removed too if there was another way to remove our sin; but there is not.
In Genesis 22:6-8a, God tells us that “Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, "Father?" "Yes, my son?" Abraham replied. "The fire and wood are here," Isaac said, "but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?" Abraham answered, "God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son." And sure enough, God provided the lamb then for Abraham and Isaac and He provided the Lamb for us on the Cross!
The Bible tells us in Romans 5:8, “God demonstrated His own love for us in this; while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” God stepped in and Jesus stepped up for us! God put Jesus on the Cross because of our sins; and because only Jesus could carry this weight!
Matthew says, 27:28-31, “They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand and knelt in front of him and mocked him. ‘Hail, king of the Jews!’ they said. They spat on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again . . . Then they led him away to crucify him.”
Martin Luther encourages us not to be in too big of a hurry to get to the empty tomb lest we brush by the cross to quickly and trivialize it. He says, “The true contemplation is that in which the heart is crushed and the conscience smitten. You must be overwhelmed by the frightful wrath of God who so hated sin that He spared not His only-begotten Son . . .” (Source: NIVC)
(2) He suffered spiritually. Jesus experienced sin’s heaviest load when He suffered separation from His Father. When He cried, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Jesus experienced our spiritual deaths. The wages of sin is death (meaning spiritual death – the inability to relate to God). I remember the time I got separated from my mother in a department store as a little boy! It scared me to death! Here, Jesus experienced separation from His Father for the first time ever! What a scary thing for Him! It was at this moment Jesus became sin for us and felt God’s full punishment for our sin!
Then He cried, “It is finished!” (John19:30) The bearing of our sins was over! The victory was won! The Salvation plan of God was fulfilled. The price of our salvations was paid in full! Jesus’ horrible sufferings were over! The storm was past!
As Isaiah 53:4-6 says, “Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him iniquity of us all.”
It is finished, “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for unrighteous, to bring you to God.” 1 Peter 3:18
We were all impressed with Ashley Smith this past week. She told us that she was ”God’s instrument that He used to protect others.” Jesus was God’s Lamb given to protect us from the ravages of sin!
c. Cup of SALVATION - The Marriage Supper
Earlier in the day, Pilot unknowingly presented the perfect picture of what was about to take place. He marched out the vilest offended in his jail; one already condemned to die; Barabbas was his name. In front of everyone Jesus, an innocent man willingly takes the place of the guilty man, who is then released; he was completely free to go; and then Jesus is condemned and dies in his place.
This is exactly what Jesus has done for you and me. We are the guilty ones already condemned to die for our sins, the Bible tells us. But Jesus took our place on the Cross and died for us so we do not have to. He gave His life in exchange for ours. But, we must accept His offer of His Cup of Salvation.
In this last clip, Ray Vander Laan is standing in front of the empty tomb in Jerusalem and is about to lead his small group in sharing the LS. He will tell us about the imagery of the Marriage Cup and our need to choose whether to become His bride. We get to drink of the cup of the marriage supper of the Lamb. At end of this clip we will share in our LS in the manner I mentioned earlier . . .
Sharing in Our Lord’s Supper
III. Conclusion - “We Have Peace with God”
In his book, “In the Grip of Grace,” Max Lucado tells us that “salvation brings peace with God.” Max tells a story about two monks to illustrate his point.
Once a monk and his apprentice traveled from the abbey to a nearby village. The two parted at the city gates, agreeing to meet the next morning after completing their tasks. According to plan, they met and began the long walk back to the abbey. The monk noticed that the younger man was unusually quiet. He asked him if anything was wrong. “What business is it of yours?” came the terse response.
Now the monk was sure his brother was troubled, but he said nothing. The distance between the two began to increase. The apprentice walked slowly, as if to separate himself from the teacher. When the abbey came in sight, the monk stopped at the gate and waited on the student. “Tell me, my son. What troubles your soul?”
The boy started to react again, but when he saw the warmth in his master’s eyes, his heart began to melt. “I have sinned greatly,” he sobbed. “Last night I slept with a woman and abandoned my vows. I am not worthy to enter the abbey at your side.”
The teacher put his arm around the student and said, “We will enter the abbey together. And we will enter the cathedral together. And together we will confess your sin. No one but God will know which of the two of us fell.”
Doesn’t that describe what God has done for us? When we kept our sin silent, we withdrew from him. We saw him as an enemy. We took steps to avoid his presence. But our confession of faults alters our perception. God is no longer a foe but a friend. We are at peace with him. He did more than the monk did, much more. More than share in our sin, Jesus was “crushed for the evil we did. The punishment, which made us well, was given to him” (Isaiah 53:5). “He accepted the shame” (Heb. 12:2). He leads us into the presence of God.”
1. Do you recognize the weight Jesus bore for you?
2. How will you respond to Jesus today? Do you have a different view of your sins and how they separate you from God? Are you now more willing to confess them and to repent of them? Are you now more willing to pray for strength to keep from falling into temptation?
3. Have you received your pardon from your weight of sin yet? Would you like to? All you must do is to admit that you too are a sinner; be willing to turn from your sin; believe that Jesus Christ died on the Cross for your sins and has been resurrected from the grave and; freely give Jesus control of your life.
Sources: ”What Was In The Cup?” by C Matthews (Sermon Central); NIV Application Commentary for Luke; “Faith Lessons on the Death and Resurrection of the Messiah,” by Ray Vander Laan; “In the Grip of Grace,” by Max Lucado.