Summary: Are we willing to bear the same burdens that Jesus bore? I want to be a bearer of the Lord’s cup!
THE LORD’S CUP
By Pastor Jim May
Matthew 26:36-46, "Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy. And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me."
The Last Supper in the Upper Room had ended. Jesus had instituted the Communion Service as an ordinance of the church. Judas Iscariot had fled from the room in shame and embarrassment after Jesus exposed his diabolical plot. After Judas left, the other disciples joined in with Jesus and they sang a hymn. The hymn that they sang was not just any song, but it was traditional song that was supposed to be sang on the night every Passover Feast. It was a time honored tradition that the song would ever be combined with the Passover.
The hymn was known as the Hallel and it was a song of praise unto God consisting of six passages from the Book of Psalms; the 113th, 114th, 115th, 116th, 117th, and 118th. It was not sung all at once but in courses or parts. Just before the drinking of the second cup and eating of the lamb, they sung the first part of it, which contained the 113th and 114th Psalms. When they were preparing the last cup of the Passover feast, the fourth cup, then they would complete the "Hallell", by singing the rest of the Psalms, beginning with the 115th Psalm, and ending with the 118th. After the song was completed then there would be a prayer of blessing of the song. Then they might mix a fifth cup, but that they were not obliged to sing a third part of the "great Hallell", or "hymn", which was the 136th Psalm. The last part of the "Hallell" wasn’t sang until the very close of supper because there were many things in it pertaining to Jesus himself. The Jews say that "the sorrows of the Messiah" are contained in this part. It is widely accepted and taught that this “Hallell” would have been the song they sang since all the disciples knew it. Jesus usually conformed to the rites and rituals of the Jewish nation. The final part of the “Hallell” can be completed anywhere, and at any time, but Jesus waited until it was completed and then he and the disciples rose from the table and left the Upper Room.
From the Upper Room Jesus walked to the Garden of Gethsemane at the foot of the Mount of Olives. This was a place were the oil was pressed from the olives to provide for cooking and lighting. It was no mere coincidence that Jesus came to this Garden. Here he was to begin to feel the pressure of the crushing that was to come. Before the anointing oil of the Holy Ghost could be released to flow like a river into the hearts of men there had to be a time of crushing.
I remember visiting a re-creation of the Garden of Gethsemane at the Great Passion Play in Eureka Springs, Arkansas some years ago. There were olive presses on display. One in particular that I remember was nothing more than a rock base with a funnel coming out of it where the oil would flow into a container. The olives were bundled in a cloth and placed on the rock. Then a long pole would be extended past the point where the pressing would occur and a large rock would be tied to the pole and another would be placed on top of the bundled olives. As the weight of the rock pulled down on the end of the pole, the stone would crush the olives and cause the oil to flow. I can still remember that sight because I thought of the crushing weight of the sin of man that Jesus bore that day. I thought of how he shed his blood crushed under the weight of sin that he carried for the whole world, much as the olive oil is forced from the olives by a very heavy weight ever pressing it harder until all the oil has been forced out.