Recently in a couple Bible study groups we’ve been looking at the Last Supper and Garden of Gethseme. A question came up Sunday night…from a sixth grader…why does Jesus talk about God taking his ‘cup’? Here is what they were looking at:
And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” [Matthew 26:39]
Without a tool to geek out (Greek/Hebrew concordance) I am left to my own devices, which saves you from scanning over geek-out paragraphs!
From the perspective of a Christian many thousands of years removed from the cross. It is tempting to say, ‘What? What? Jesus didn’t want to died for our sins!?!?’
Folks, he was human…does it sound fun to YOU? The ultimate sacrifice that still stands for ALL of our sins was…excruciating, at the least. It had to be. If it were anything less it would never have launched beyond a miraculous rabbi who told some stories.
Frankly, I love the honesty in Jesus’ humaness during the Garden passages. I am comforted that Jesus knew what was coming, didn’t want to…and still did it.
The passage right before the garden is the Last Supper where he has just explained to the disciples, drink my ‘blood’ out of this cup to remember him.
There is the thought that his blood pouring out of his cup/body on the cross was the cup that he wanted his Father to take away.
But then there is a earlier reference in Matthew that adds another element. James and John have just asked Jesus to be seated at his right and left hand in his kingdom…
Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” [Matthew 20:22]
Which lends to the thought that the cup symbolizes his suffering.
Each of the four Gospel writers all reference Jesus referring to the cup his Father had given him.
So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?” [John 11:13]
With so many things to sit under in scripture…why am I stuck on this verbiage? Jesus always taught in parables and symbolism. It’s not surprising. Sometimes it was a dizzying logic that we are not ever meant to understand on earth.
Still…that cup. I also think I am stuck on it because I’d never paid attention until a sixth grader asked me. I function on faith, and sometimes I chalk things too easily up to being content not knowing. I tend to put things in salvation issue and not salvation issue boxes.
But maybe…just maybe…there is something to learn here in this Lenten moment of examination and practice of drawing closer to our Abba.
So I turn it over to you…when we are at such a pivotal point in scripture, the defining points of our salvation and belief…what do you think Jesus means when he asked for this ‘cup to pass from me’?