In this reading we see the culmination of the story of the last days of Christ, His death, His glorious resurrection, and His commissioning of His followers to take the message of the Gospel into all the world and make disciples.
These chapters are filled with powerful stories, parables, teachings, acts of love, and images that have found their way into the Christian consciousness and have become a part of who we are as followers of Jesus.
There is one image that stood out most to me as I read these chapters and that is the image of the cup.
We read of two cups. The first is found in Matthew 26:27-29 as Jesus celebrates the Passover with His disciples on the same night that Judas would betray Him and hand Him over to be falsely accused, beaten, mocked, and then, crucified:
And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.’
Hours after this event, we read of the second cup in Matthew 26:39. Jesus is in the garden of Gethsemane. Jesus is facing His eminent torture and death. He knows what is coming and He says that His soul is “Sorrowful, even to the point of death.” He leaves His disciples and goes further into the garden where He falls to His face on the ground and cries out to God in prayer:
My father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.
In the first part of the story, we are reading about the cup of fellowship. In the second, we read about the cup of God’s wrath.
Let that sink in for just a moment and then ask yourself;
Which cup are we being offered?
Jesus took the full cup of God’s wrath for sin on Himself, which He did not deserve or earn. It was a cup you and I should have been made to drink to its very dregs because of our utter offensiveness to a just and holy God, but instead, Jesus took it upon Himself. And in its place, Jesus offers us the cup of fellowship with God, the cup which only He truly deserved.
Jesus took God’s wrath, so that we could have God’s fellowship.
If that doesn’t fill our hearts with praise and thanksgiving then I don’t know what will.
The next time we participate in communion and we are offered the cup let us remember which cup we are being given and remember which cup Jesus took in our place.
Let us remember, and let us rejoice.