The Questions of Jesus: Shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?

Midweek in the Second Sunday in Lent

February 28, 2018

John 18:11

The first question of our Lord was penetrating: Could you not watch with Me one hour? He had brought His disciples to the place He had been with them on other occasions and He was now sorrowful, fully aware of what was to happen to Him. Stay here with Me, watch and pray. But they were too tired. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.

His next question draws us to our salvation. If our flesh is weak, if we cannot keep watch with our Lord, then we ought to look to Him for our help. Whom do you seek? Judas and those he brought with him were seeking Jesus to arrest Him. But we learn to seek Him for salvation and Him alone.

Tonight we see action. Judas having procured a detachment of soldiers from the chief priests and Pharisees, it was unfolding now. But when Jesus told them that He was the one they were seeking they all drew back and fell to the ground. Could seeing this have emboldened Peter to thus take the action he did? He drew his sword and cut off the right ear of the servant of the chief priest. Peter was impetuous. Whereas moments ago he couldn’t keep his eyes open now adrenaline was pumping through his veins and he sprang into action.

It is this turn of events that prompts Jesus’ next question. He rebukes Peter, telling him to put his sword away. This is not the way things will go. He had already told the band of soldiers to let His disciples go and now Peter was threatening to undo that. He in fact was threatening to go against the will of God, again. The time this happened before he had confessed Jesus as the Messiah. Jesus had praised this confession of faith, telling Peter that flesh and blood had not revealed it to him but His Father who was in heaven. That Jesus was the Messiah meant that He would suffer at the hands of men, He would be crucified, and He would be raised from the dead. At this Peter rebuked Jesus. This will never happen to you, Lord! Peter was still not seeing that it is the Lord who follows the will of the Father and going against it is following the will of Satan. Jesus said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan. You do not have your mind on the things of God but of humans.”

Peter still had not learned. He still was not submitting himself to the Father’s will. He drew his sword. He took action. He tried to stop the plan of God. Jesus rebuked him with this question, “Shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given Me?” Had Jesus wanted to prevent Himself from being arrested He could have put a stop to it with far more than a sword of one of His disciples. His legions of angels were a greater force than these soldiers who had come out to arrest Him. As we saw last week, the soldiers weren’t in control He was in control. Certainly Peter and the other disciples weren’t in control. This was the will of the Father. Jesus was humbly and willingly submitting to the will of His Father. He was carrying out His will in a kingdom greater than one of this world. Peter would have like his Lord to reign over a worldly kingdom. But His kingdom was a heavenly kingdom.

The cup His Father had given Him was a bitter cup. But notice Jesus’ resolute will. He sees drinking the cup His Father had given Him as a blessed gift. It was bitter in that He would be drinking of the cup of His Father’s wrath upon sinners. Imagine if you were to stand before God in His holiness. Imagine if you were no longer sheltered by your fantasies you have made up that your sin is not all that bad. Standing before the true God, all your evil and sin is exposed and you see that you have no hope, that you deserve the full cup of His wrath.

Now you see why Jesus was intent on drinking this cup. It was to take it from you. To drink it in your place. To be able to stand before His Father and say of you, “I have endured Your wrath upon them and their sin, they are pure.” Jesus was not looking forward to suffering in your place. He was grateful for the gift His Father had given Him of taking your place, of saving you. In that, it was a blessed and joyful thing for Him to go through it and suffer in your place.

You can see now how what Peter was doing was evil. He was trying to prevent his very own salvation and that of the world. He did not see the depth of his own sin and therefore sought to overcome this injustice to Jesus. But Jesus chose to be unjustly accused. He chose to be unjustly punished. He chose drinking of the cup of the Father’s wrath. He chose to die. The heart of the Heavenly Father was to restore His people, to save them from their sins. This prompted Him to send His Son. His Son joyfully aligned Himself with His Father’s heart and will.

We are learning from Jesus from His questions. This question flows from His previous one, Whom do you seek? We are to seek Him alone. And in this next question, Shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given Me?, we learn how we are to seek Him. Paul says in 1Corinthians 1 that we preach Christ crucified. If Jesus resolutely went to the cross to drink the cup of His Father, why would we seek Him in any other way? Why would we think and act like Peter and prevent the Gospel from shining forth? Why would we seek to go about things our own way? Why would we not see that our root problem is our sin and we need forgiveness? We need the Gospel that is our Lord drinking the cup of wrath in our place.

Peter and the other disciples later came to realize this. Once the Lord had risen and He showed them His hands and side they saw that He had suffered for their sake and now lived forever. They recalled and we will recall that it was a few days earlier that Jesus had taken another cup, but this one He shared with them, giving it to them with the promise that it was for them and for their forgiveness. The cup of the Lord in His sacred meal is bound up with the cup His Father gave Him and which He drank alone on the cross. He took in Himself the wrath of God, His blood being shed in our place and thus forever given to us in the cup of His sacred meal. His blood is given to us to drink for the forgiveness of our sins.

We then ought to ask ourselves, Shall we not drink the cup our Lord has given to us? The cup of wrath has been given to Him and therefore we may freely drink of the cup of the Lord. It is not the cup of wrath but the cup of the blood of our Lord. His blood was being poured out on the cross so that our life would be restored. The Bible says that the life of a being is in the blood. Jesus’ life is given to us in His Supper, His body is given to us to eat and His blood is given to us to drink. Had Jesus not drunk of the cup His Father had given Him, we would die in our sins. We would stand before the Father with no claim to holiness. We would be impure, soiled in heart and mind.

What ended up happening in the Garden was Jesus’ disciples fleeing. Peter with a feeble attempt at fighting for his Lord was his own will, his own attempt to bring about salvation. The Lord’s action, by contrast, was submitting to arrest. But His greatest act was on the cross where He drank freely of the cup His Father had given Him and thus we are free from sin and damnation. Amen.