Easter Reflections, Part 1

” . . . the cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?” (Jn 18.11b)

Having ordered Peter to sheath his sword, Jesus rhetorically demands that Peter stick to the plan. Jesus had to drain the drink in front of him. And no beggarly fisherman was going to disrupt the swill.

Jesus was not simply saying cleverly to Peter, “I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do.” He was using a clear image of what was at stake. The cup Jesus must drink was the cup of God’s wrath (cf. Ps 75.8; Is 51.17, 22; Jer 25.15, 17; 51.7; Ezek 23.31-33). No person, nation, or king had ever been able to down this cup to God’s satisfaction. There was always one more serving. There was always one more shot. God’s wrath was always on tap for those bellied up to test God’s stamina.

The cup was not merely Jesus’ to take, but his to drink. There was only one way to completely alleviate God’s anger . . . the cup must be consumed. Its contents cannot be thrown out, scattered, evaporated or sipped. The cup must be downed and kept down.

Now we see this image come to life. Peter could not see it at the time because of the glare off his dagger (though it was night!). It was not Rome’s anger or Jewish hatred Jesus endured. They did not give him the cup; the Father did. Therefore, Jesus must be consumed by God’s wrath. God’s anger must course through his veins, become a part of him, until the Father had crushed him lifeless (Is 53.10). Jesus must be ravaged by Father’s hatred of sin if we are to be lavished by His love for the church (Mic 7.18).

The cup of God’s wrath Jesus drank for us becomes the cup of blessing we drink to him (1 Cor 10.16). Now, God’s love and grace courses through our veins having become part of us. We now celebrate that there is not one ounce of God’s wrath reserved for the church (Rom 5.9; 8.1; 1 Thess 1.10). Luther once preached, “[Christ] also took upon himself the full wrath and condemnation of our Lord God and drained that cup to the dregs, so that we would not have to suffer those things” (Sermons, vol. 5, p388). Not one drop of that cup remains for us as Jesus digested it all without so much as a burp. Resurrection without eructation is the church’s battle cry!

Gorge yourselves, brethren, on God’s delight. It is always on tap.

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