Devotional: The Cup of Suffering – 3rd Tuesday in Advent

3rd Tuesday of Advent

The Cup of Suffering

Cup 2He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them,
knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup
from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”
An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.
And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly,
and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.
Luke 22:41-44

The chalice, or cup, on our Chrismon tree represents the cup of suffering and
sorrow our Lord took on because of his love for us. While it reminds us of the
cup which we drink at the Lord’s Supper, representing his blood, it also has a
much deeper meaning. In the Bible, a cup is often portrayed as something given
by God, representing his will. Sometimes it is good, as when David speaks of
God assigning his cup (Psalm 16:5) or making it overflow (Psalm 23:5). But
often the cup that God hands out is a cup of wrath and judgment, which the
wicked are to “drink it down to its very dregs” (Psalm 75:8). God might give
the cup to Israel or her enemies (or even both; see Isaiah 51:18-23), whoever is
deserving of God’s judgment. It is thought that the cup is used because it is
taken to one’s lips knowingly, whether by choice or force. The person usually
knows the poison and death that is coming.

When we understand the use of cup imagery in the Old Testament, Jesus’ repeated
use of the word cup to signify his impending death takes on greater significance.
When he asks if the Father might be willing to take the cup from him,
we realize that his anguish comes not just from the pain of death itself. He understands
that he will feel the full weight of God’s wrath against sin falling on
himself. He alone, among all human beings, does not deserve God’s wrath; yet
he alone, among all human beings, is the only one who can bear it. So he takes
the cup willingly to his lips, drinking the full weight of God’s anger toward our
sins, so that we might be released of that weight and drink instead the cup of
God’s grace and goodness. And so that one day we can drink the final cup of
Passover with Jesus in his eternal kingdom (Matthew 26:27-29).

Prayer: Jesus, thank you for drinking the cup of God’s punishment for us, so
that we may drink the cup of celebration and victory with you eternally. Amen.