“But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5
Two magnificent, historic silver cups have been preserved from the marshes of Ireland. The first, the Gundestrup Cauldron, dates back a century or two before Christ during a time when the Irish worshiped violent, pagan gods. The cup is adorned with pictures of gods and warriors who demand human sacrifice to appease their appetites. The second cup is called the Ardagh Chalice. It comes from the seventh or eighth centuries after Christ during which the Irish had turned to Christianity. Like the first cup it is a magnificent work of craftsmanship, but the God it depicts is quite different. The design is a simple, intricate pattern of peace; and it was intended for use in Communion. It is a reminder that the One True God does not demand human sacrifice, but instead sacrifices Himself for us.
There is perhaps no clearer explanation of this sacrifice than in the 53rd chapter of Isaiah. This prophecy of the coming Messiah laid out in great detail – hundreds of years before it happened - how He would take the punishment for the sins of His people. Christ didn’t just die on the cross…He took our place. Instead of demanding sacrifice, He offered Himself as our sacrifice. This is the beauty of God’s grace.
What we were powerless to do, Jesus did for us. And it’s not only that we were powerless, we were unwilling. Romans 3 makes it clear that not one of us seeks God of our own accord. We have all turned and gone our own way. God did not sit patiently and wait for us to return to Him. He came for us, sending His Son as the Messenger of His grace.
Those two ancient Irish cups tell the story of grace. The god of this world, Satan, demands that we sacrifice our souls to him. He takes and takes and takes until he kills. Nothing will appease him except the total destruction of those that God has created for His glory. But then there’s the cup of peace. God is the Great Giver, who gave the ultimate sacrifice to save our souls. His grace resurrects, heals and restores us from the ravages of sin. He will stop at nothing to redeem the souls of those He loves.
Dear Father, I want to carry the cup of grace - the cup of peace and love that you offer me because I am your child. Thank you for the gift of your grace. May it not be a gift that I take for granted. In Jesus' name, amen.