Summary: Part of a message delivered during Thursday Holy Week Service in the Bass Memorial Chapel on the campus of William Carey University.
The Third Cup: [By His Grace] OUR CUP OF REDEMPTION
Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Matthew 26:27-28
During a customary Passover Seder, or meal, four cups of wine would be poured. You might say five cups are prepared if you include the one poured for the honored guest: Elijah. It is in the context of these four cups that we draw our thoughtful meditation this afternoon. We are reminded by the words of Moses in Exodus, “Therefore, say to the children of Israel: `I am the Lord; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. I will take you as My people, and I will be your God. Then you shall know that I am the Lord your God who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. And I will bring you into the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and I will give it to you as a heritage: I am the Lord.' '' (Exodus 6:6-8)
Jesus had made prior arrangements for the meal he would share with his trusted band of followers. The disciples may have shared a Passover meal with him the previous years of His ministry and knew that He would want to celebrate it again. So they asked Jesus where he wanted to prepare for the meal. While they knew well the customs of the Seder, their Master would use this night to graciously show them the full measure of His love.
As was customary, four cups of the fruit of the vine would be poured. By drinking the wine one celebrated the promises of redemption, the relationship obtained, and the union that God desired. They were to be drunk at a specific time and in a prescribed manner during the meal. Through them one appreciates a four stage process in God’s redemption.
May we reflect on these CUPS or stages:
THE FIRST CUP: SANTIFICATION “…I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians…” Exodus 6:6
THE SECOND CUP: DELIVERANCE “…I will free you from being slave…” Exodus 6:6
THE THIRD CUP: REDEMPTION “…I will redeem you with an outstretched arm…” Exodus 6:6
THE FOURTH CUP: RESTORATION “…I will take you as my people…” Exodus 6:7
Jesus may have taken the first two cups in the traditional way with the disciples. In the CUP of SANTIFICATION they were reminded that God took the Israelites out from under yoke the Egyptian’s burden. He does the same for us today. He sets us apart for His service! The second CUP of DELIVERANCE reminds us that God saved the Israelites from servitude. He delivers His disciples and anyone that would share in the cup from the enslavement of the world
We pause, for it was probably the third CUP of REDEMPTION that Jesus held up and said, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” This cup symbolized the blood of the Passover lamb and now represents the Life of Christ poured out for our sins. He redeems us with outstretched arms... Our righteousness falls short, but His will save us.
Could it be that Jesus stopped there and did not drink the fourth CUP of RESTORATION? He said, “I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom.'' (Matthew 6:29) This redemptive process has a purpose - our restoration. The Scripture is clear in that regard - We are all sinners, separated eternally from God, in need of a Savior. Christ’s heart, his message, was just to do that! God’s plan was perfected. The image of salvation experienced by the Israelites and memorialized in the Passover meal is ours today because of Christ’s sacrifice and victory.
From Adam and Eve’s first sin to this day we are in need of redemption. The four CUPS are a picture of the redemptive process. Through His sacrifice, by the pouring out of his blood, we are able to celebrate and appreciate the new life granted to all who confess Him as Lord.
The four cups add to our understanding of the measure of God’s love for all of His creation. He serves those He loves. He is waiting to share the last cup with you – with us! He has made the preparations and he has poured the fruit of the vine. Will you believe and drink?