In the other three Gospels, Jesus has only just been praying that this “cup” might pass without His having to drink it, and yet, according to Mark’s account, “it is not what I want but what you want” that matters to Him. But here’s what matters to us: What is this “cup”? What is the meaning of this that “the Father has given” Him on this night, and what will it mean for Jesus that He must “drink” it?
Looking back at the Old Testament, the Old Covenant, there are fourteen references, each using slightly different language, to describe a “cup of the Lord’s wrath” against the sin of the world and the accumulation of all wrongdoing throughout human history. Then, within the narrative of the Passover, we have the four promises of Exodus 6 – 1) “I will bring you out” 2) “I will deliver you” 3) “I will redeem you” 4) “I will take you as my people” – commemorated by four specific cups of wine – 1) The cup of sanctification 2) The cup of deliverance 3) The cup of redemption 4) The cup of restoration.
Now consider the promise of Isaiah 51, as it pertains to the coming of a Savior:
- “This is what your Sovereign Lord says, your God, who defends his people: ‘See, I have taken out of your hand the cup that made you stagger; from that cup, the goblet of my wrath, you will never drink again.’”
And why won’t we drink it again? Listen to Jesus, taking up the third cup (the cup of redemption) at that night’s Passover dinner:
- “Then he took a cup and after thanking God, he gave it to them with the words, ‘Drink this, all of you, for it is my blood, the blood of the new agreement shed to set many free from their sins. I tell you I will drink no more wine until I drink it fresh with you in my Father’s kingdom.’” (Matthew 26)
As Jesus took and drank to the dregs the eternal “cup of the Lord’s wrath” on our behalf at the Cross, He was simultaneously pouring out His blood and thus, once and for all times, sealing a New Covenant between Himself and the Father. We are sanctified, delivered, redeemed and restored – the four cups of the Passover – because of the empty “cup of the Lord’s wrath” and the cup brimming over with Jesus’ shed blood. And what does He hold out to us?
Psalm 116 tells us: “the cup of salvation.”
And how full is that cup?
David declares: “my cup overflows.”