Listen:  

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

I would like to answer the second question first.  A ‘cup’ in Scripture can be a literal cup that one drinks from, or it can speak metaphorically of something that one experiences. In Psalm 16:5, King David wrote, “The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance and my cup…” In speaking of the Lord as “the portion of mine…cup” David was stating that he had made the Lord his own; he had taken the Lord into his life, just as we drink something from a literal cup and it becomes part of us.

In this solemn scene in Matthew 26 the Lord Jesus is contemplating the cross upon which He would die for guilty sinners.  In Matthew 26: 37-38 we read, “And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.” The shadow of the cross was hanging over Him, for He knew that within minutes He would be betrayed by Judas into the hands of wicked men, hauled off to a mock trial before a Jewish council and before Pontius Pilate, and then sentenced to die by crucifixion. And even worse, He knew that after men would have their way with him, by beating Him, mocking Him, and crucifying Him that He would then stand in the sinner’s place and be judged by a holy God for sin. The Bible teaches clearly that on the cross the Lord Jesus would be made a sacrifice for sin.  Consider the following verses from Isaiah 53:5, 6, and 10, “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us allYet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin….”  In 2 Corinthians 5:21 we have the same truth revealed.  That says, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”  In love for you and me He would be willing to take the cup of judgment that we deserved because of our sins, and make it his own!

As we consider these weighty passages of Scripture we can begin to see why the Lord Jesus “began to be sorrowful and very heavy” and why he said to his disciples, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.”  The Lord Jesus was absolutely holy, incapable of sin, and yet, in love and grace He would be willing to take the sinner’s place at Calvary and suffer the wrath of a sin-hating God in our place. Because he was holy, the thought of being “made sin for us” caused His holy soul to be filled with sorrow and distress.  Luke 22:44 tells us He was in such agony that he “sweat as it were great drops of blood.”

This, in turn, led the Lord to withdraw from His disciples and to fall on His face praying those solemn words we read in Matthew 26:39, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.”  He was, in essence, praying, “Father if there’s any other way to save lost, guilty sinners, without having to drink the cup of judgment for sin, let this cup pass from me.”  Of course the Lord Jesus knew there was no other way, so He prayed “not as I will, but as thou wilt.”  There was never a thought in the Lord’s mind that He would turn away from the cross, for He knew that He had come into the world for this very purpose.

In closing, King David spoke of another ‘cup’ in Psalm 116:13, “I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord.”  If you have never trusted Christ as your Savior, I would encourage you to “take the cup of salvation” by acting on Acts 16:31, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…” Christ drank the “cup of God’s judgment” so you could drink the “cup of salvation.”  (120.2) (DO)