Christ’s Bitter Cup

“He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, ‘O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.’”

— Matthew 26:39

What was in the mysterious cup that appeared before Christ’s face there in the darkness of Gethsemane? First of all, the cup contained all the sin of the world. Imagine you’re visiting the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. You walk into a large, sealed room full of hundreds of vials containing diseases—cancer, AIDS, syphilis, gonorrhea—every dangerous and foul disease known to man. You see a technician unstopping each vial, one by one, and pouring the contents into a large beaker. How would you react if the technician asked you to touch the beaker? And if the technician asked you to drink the contents, what terror would fill your soul? But all of that is nothing compared to the cup of sin which Jesus drank.

The second element in Jesus’ bitter cup was God’s abandonment. By drinking that foul cup, Christ became the arch-criminal of the universe, full of sin. God, whose holiness prevents Him from looking at any sin, turned His back on Christ, His Son, leaving Jesus abandoned and alone.

Third, since God must punish sin, He poured on Christ the great fiery cauldron of His wrath. More than that, Christ, rejected by humanity and abandoned by God, was then given over to the demons. He sank to the bottomless pit of Hell, where the demons fell on Him with fang and claw.

All of this was in the bitter cup. But the most important thing about this cup is that it wasn’t Christ’s cup at all. It was ours. The sin was ours. The abandonment, the fiery punishment, the demons should have been ours. But Christ drank the cup for us. And because He did, today the cup of Christ is one full of blessings—love, pardon, peace, and joy. This is the cup He now offers to you and me. Take and drink of the love and freedom you can now enjoy because of the sacrifice Christ has made.

“We may not know, we cannot tell what pains He had to bear.
We only know it was for us He hung and suffered there.”