Things Are True
by Pastor Dan Coburn
Have you ever had to do something you Really-Really didn’t want to do? It may be as benign as going to the dentist or coughing up your taxes, or as hard as reconciling a wronged relationship, or consoling someone who has just lost a loved one. For me, one of the hardest things I’ve had to do is “put down” a long time pet. I have friends who have offered to do it for me, but I just felt it was my job. I couldn’t pay to have it done, and I won’t ask someone else to do something I hate. So I just did it. But beyond all the rationale, and the “he’ll be better off”, it was still just hard.
Let’s turn the spiritual switch. There is a term in the Bible which is synonymous with suffering or separation. It is the “Cup”. It was a familiar term to Bible characters of both the old and new Testaments, and is familiar to us today. When Babylon had captured Jerusalem, it was said that the city had “drunken the dregs of the cup of trembling”–Isaiah 51:17. In Jer. 25, God’s wrath against the nations is pictured as pouring out of a cup. There is a cup of consolation in Jer. 16:7, and “my cup runneth over” in Psalm 23:5. Jesus had compared His suffering and even baptism to the drinking of a cup in Matt. 20:22-24. At the Lord’s Supper, the cup was likened to His blood, shed for the remission of sin–Matt. 26:27-28.
Today, to “drink the cup” means to go through with a difficult experience. If we refuse, we might say “that’s not my cup of tea”. Many trophies are shaped like a cup symbolizing that the recipient has gone through a demanding experience. If we are made to drink from the cup, we might say “I had to swallow a lot”.
The cup that Jesus agonized over in Matt. 26:39, was so tremendous, it dwarfs everything we have endured. He called it a “cup,” not a river, not a sea. You see, a cup has an end or a bottom. The end is in sight, and we would do well to remember that when we are going through the really hard stuff. He even prayed: “let this cup pass”.
The cup He was facing had three parts. First, He would endure tremendous physical pain and death. Second, He would be mocked, ridiculed, spit on, and laughed at by those for whom he had come. Thirdly, and certainly the most severe, was the separation He would endure from the Father. However brief, it was something He had never had to endure.
How could He do this? “I delight to do thy will oh my God yea, thy law is within my heart”–Psalm 40:8. Also, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end”–Jer. 29:11.
Jesus accepted this cup because it was Prepared by the Father. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus”–Phill. 2:5.