As a mom, I’m very careful of what my children eat and drink. This backfired when it came to potty training my oldest, Ella. She, to this day, has only ever had milk and water to drink. Before I began potty training, I got some flavored lemonade powder to mix in her water to entice her to drink. But when I offered the tasty mixture to Ella, she took one look at it and said, “NO.” She refused to drink the lemonade and would only drink very little water when she was really thirsty, making potty training a very challenging experience.
For my daughter, a cup filled with lemonade was so undesirable, she refused to drink it. There are several passages in Scripture that discuss the word “cup,” the contents of the “cup,” and the one who drank the “cup” for us.
Mark 14:36 says, “And he said, ‘Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.’” In this passage, there is great significance in the word “cup.” It alludes to stories in the Old Testament describing this cup of God’s wrath: the bitter cup that we deserve.
The Cup of God’s Wrath
As it says in Romans 3:23, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Every person, regardless of background, has sinned against a holy God and is deserving of judgment. The Old Testament book of Jeremiah is an appeal to the Jews not to worship false gods but to worship the one true God. Jeremiah is told by God in chapter 25:15, “Take from my hand this cup of the wine of wrath, and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it.” This cup is being given to every nation that inhabited the earth at that time. They, and we, are all sinners, deserving of this bitter cup of God’s wrath.
Jesus Drank the Cup
On the night that Jesus was arrested, Peter tried to defend Jesus by cutting off the high priest’s servant’s ear. Jesus responded to Peter by saying in John 18:11, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”
Jesus knew what was going to happen to Him and was willingly taken by the soldiers. Jesus was the perfect sacrifice, knowing no sin Himself. He drank the bitter cup of God’s wrath so that we will never have to experience the wrath of God.
In Psalm 75:8, it states that the “wicked of the earth shall drain [the cup] down to the dregs.” Dregs are the sediment made of yeast cells as well as leftover grape solids (stems, seeds, skin). I don’t know about you, but drinking the dregs doesn’t sound appetizing to me! Jesus drank the whole cup for us, even to the dregs, so that we never have to experience one ounce of God’s wrath.
The Cup of Salvation
1 Corinthians 11:25-26 says, “In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”
In communion, we are proclaiming and reminding ourselves that He has paid the ultimate price for our sins, and that He drank the bitter cup of God’s wrath. Christ took upon himself all of our sins, and by faith, through grace, all His righteousness is imputed to us! When we take communion, let us remember that we are now able to drink this much better cup because Jesus drank the bitter cup.
Jesus did not refuse when considering what the cup was filled with or what it tasted like, as my daughter Ella did. He drank it all regardless of its taste. Trusting in this act of obedience on our behalf gives us life everlasting. We can now say with the psalmist in Psalm 116:13, “I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord.”