“And going a little farther He fell on His face and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.’” Matthew 26:39
When I close my eyes and imagine the scene that unfolded in the Garden of Gethsemane the night that Jesus was arrested a variety of emotions flood my heart and mind. It is hard to picture King Jesus on His face, begging the Father to deliver Him from what He knew lay ahead for Him, yet resolutely submitting to the will of God. The idea of His tears mingled with blood as He prayed breaks my heart. The idea of His disciples falling asleep while He faced such a struggle brings indignation. The kiss of Judah evokes anger from the deepest part of me. And the arrest? I am outraged every time I think about it. How could this have been?
From our limited perspective, the physical torture of the crucifixion seems to be what Jesus was struggling to face. And while the cross was definitely horrific, this is not the “cup” that Jesus was referring to in His prayer that night. Throughout the Old Testament, God’s wrath is referred to as His “cup.”
“For in the hand of the LORD there is a cup with foaming wine, well mixed, and He pours out from it, and all the wicked of the earth shall drain it down to the dregs.” Psalm 75:8
The cup of His wrath is also described in Isaiah 51:17, Isaiah 51:22, Jeremiah 25:15, and Habakkuk 2:16. In His omniscience, Jesus knew that the worst part of His suffering wouldn’t be the nails, but that all of God’s rage against sin would be unleashed onto Him. This is why Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” Jesus didn’t just die for our sins; He became our sin. He became everything that His Father hated. This is why Jesus cried out from the cross, “Father, why have You forsaken Me?”
Had God really forsaken His Son? Of course not. But to Jesus it felt like He had. Our sins brought separation between the Father and Son – something that Jesus had never experienced before. And while only temporary, it was excruciating.
So as you meditate on Christ’s sacrifice this Easter, remember His words to the Father as He prayed. There were other people in those days that were crucified physically, but no one except Christ has experienced the full weight of God’s wrath. Jesus drank the cup of God’s wrath so that we may partake only of His grace and mercy. This, friends, is why we call it Good Friday.
Father, As I drink deeply from the fountain of Your grace, I am reminded of the cup of wrath that should have been mine. Thank You for preparing and offering Your Son as a sacrifice in my place. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Topics: Work of Christ