Well, Good morning, Saylorville! If you brought a copy of Scripture with you this morning, you can find Matthew chapter 26 as we continue in our Easter series From Grief to Glory.
This special message is on the Cup. The Bible starts with God in the Garden of Eden. It ends with God in the Garden of Paradise. Today, we’re going to meet with God in the Garden of Gethsemane.
So if you have your Bibles, that’s where we’re going to be [starting in], Matthew 26:36.
Let me set the context for you here. It’s Thursday. A flurry of activity has already occurred in Jesus’ life including Palm Sunday, the cleansing of the temple, the cursing of the tree and a bevy of teaching. He’s denounced all of the religious leaders, those false teachers. Judas has already conspired to betray Him. Mary has anointed Him for His death. The Last Supper has even just taken place in this context. And as they’re cleaning up after supper, Jesus tells them that all of His disciples are going to run from Him, and one of them, Peter, would deny Him.
So there’s the context. That’s where we pick it up in Matthew 26:36.
“36 Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane.”
Gethsemane… the very word means “oil press,” and it’s basically metaphorical for what was going on in Jesus’ life, being pressed, being squished, so to speak.
“36b And He said to His disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray. 37 And taking with Him Peter and (The ‘sons of Thunder,’ James and John) two sons of Zebedee He began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 And He said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death;” (the Greek is very descriptive here and we’ll come back to it.) 38b remain here and watch with Me. 39 And going a little farther, He fell on His face and prayed saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will. (You see, all of his human-ness coming out here.) 40 And He came to the disciples and found them, (what are they doing? They’re…) sleeping and He said to them, He said to Peter, actually, 40b “So could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”
There are all kinds of eerie happening at this moment. Satan is at his apex of tempting right now. Both Jesus and the disciples say, [Matthew 26]
41b “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is [weak].” And all of God’s people said… Amen! 42 “Again, for the second time, He went away and prayed, “My Father, If this cannot pass unless I drink it, Your will be done.” 43 And again, He came and found them sleeping for their eyes were heavy.”
I wonder how many of your eyes are heavy at 6 a.m. on Thursday morning? That’s when we meet in here and pray. We also have a group that sleeps in a little bit and they come at 11 o’clock on that day. You’re welcome to either.
Matthew 26:44 “So leaving them again He went away and prayed for the third time, (and watch this) saying the same words again. (In other words, it’s not repetition that bothers God. It’s vain repetition.) 45 Then He came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise. Let us be going; see My betrayer is at hand.”
The hour is at hand. In Luke’s gospel, Jesus said to these individuals who would arrest Him,
[Luke 22:53b] “This is your hour and the power of darkness.”
Have you ever read that? In fact, in Luke 22:53, He uses three definite articles. When the definite article, the word “the” is in front of the noun, it’s like emphasizing it. It literally says,
“This is THE hour, and THE power of darkness.” That’s how eerie the situation is.
In Matthew 26:47,
“While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd…”
John’s Gospel tells us it was a detachment of soldiers. He uses a word which means one-tenth of a legion. A Roman legion had 6,000 soldiers, so there are 600 individuals, temple guards, an assortment of them with Judas. I mean, why 600 for one guy? If you just imagine, Judas probably said, “Well listen, I’ve been hanging out with Him. He literally walks through crowds. This ain’t gonna be easy.’
Matthew 26:47b “…and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 48 Now, the betrayer had given them a sign saying, “The one I, (What?) kiss is the man; seize Him.”
By the way, this speaks of His human-ness. To identify Jesus, Judas didn’t say, ‘He’s the one with the halo on his head’ [or] ‘He’s the guy who glows.’ No. He says, ‘I’ll kiss him, That’s the guy. Take Him.’ And that’s what he does.
Matthew 26:49 “…And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings, Rabbi,” and he kissed Him. And Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.”
Luke 22:48 says,
“…Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?”
Do you realize how treacherous this was? That sounds sick that he would betray Jesus with a kiss. You have no idea!
The second Psalm is a Messianic Psalm. A Messianic Psalm is a Psalm written hundreds of years before the Messiah, Jesus, would come. And it talks about Him. It talks about the world resisting God. This is throwing off the shackles, throwing off the law of God. And then God says in Psalm 2:7,
7 “I will tell of the decree:
The LORD said to me, “You are my Son;
today I have begotten you.
8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
and the ends of the earth your possession.”
And then he says at the end of this Messianic Psalm,
Psalm 2:12 “…Kiss the Son.”
Have you ever read that?
12b “…lest He be angry and you perish in the way, for His wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all those who take refuge (or trust) in Him.”
Why am I sharing this with you? Because to kiss the Son of God, to kiss the Messiah, was intended by God to symbolize trusting in Him. Judas flipped it on its head and used it as a symbol of betrayal. So that’s what made it so treacherous. I think the disciples saw it because Peter acted immediately. In,
Matthew 26:51 “…And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear.”
He aimed for the head, I’m sure. Got his ear. Peter wasn’t good at anything he did. And we know it’s Peter because John tells us that this was written 30 years later. By the time John puts Peter in the book, Peter is dead and gone. They can’t arrest him anymore. It’s all done.
Matthew 26:52 “…Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 53 Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and He will at once send Me more than twelve legions of angels?”
Think about this. Judas comes with one-tenth of a legion, (600.) A legion had 6,000. There are 72,000 angels ready on the beck and call to come from heaven and just wipe the whole place out! I mean, think about what ONE angel can do!
An angel, according to 2 Kings, killed 185,000 people. Here you’ve got 72,000 [angels]! Every once in a while, God will pull back the curtain and tell us what’s going on back in heaven, and here’s one of them. You’ve got angels ready to come and help Jesus, and God says, ‘Let’s just send one, just to comfort Him during this time…’ which is what happens. I’m thinking, call for the angels, Jesus! Take them out! If He had them at His beck and call, why wouldn’t He call for them? The answer is pretty simple, isn’t it? Because Jesus didn’t come TO BE SAVED. He came TO SAVE… Amen? And to do that, He would have to drink the cup. And He would have to drink it ALL, down to the dregs. And He would have to do it… alone.
Have you seen the adorable child classic, “Bambi”? Remember “Bambi”? Well, guess what? “Bambi” turned 100. The movie has been around that long? No, not the movie… the book. The book was actually written in 1922. What might shock you is that the original book was written by a Jew. And it was banned and burned by the Nazis because they understood what this Jew was trying to depict. The animals in the forest were a depiction of the Jews on the run being ferreted out… hunted down and killed. It was a quest for survival!
Before Walt Disney got his hands on it, sanitized it, romanticized it, and commercialized it, in fact, the book was actually written for adults, not children. The author specifically asked those in both the industry of writing and later on in the movie industry, NOT to make it for kids. They did it anyway. If you don’t believe me, Stephen Spielberg said it was the first horror movie ever saw. Bambi is symbolic of the Jews seeking to survive in the forest, the world, so to speak, hunted down and being killed. And in the end, in the book, Bambi is the only survivor! He doesn’t have family. He doesn’t have his lover. They’re all dead. He is not surrounded by a happy family as in the Disney version. He is alone going back into the wilderness… completely alone.
The Grief and the Glory of Jesus has been sanitized and romanticized and commercialized by most people and probably in many of your minds. It is virtually impossible to depict what Jesus went through, even though Mel Gibson with the “Passion of the Christ” came pretty darn close. And followers of Jesus know that there is a happy ending here, but the grief is heart-wrenching! Betrayed, forsaken, accused, beaten, illegally tried repeatedly, scourged and crucified. And at the point of death, like the original Bambi, Jesus is not surrounded by friends and family. He is completely alone, left to drink the cup with unimaginable contents, though we’re going to try this morning [to imagine the contents.]
The cup is a well-known metaphor both in the Bible, used like 30 times, and outside the Bible. I mean, we even put cups on trophies… Right? The cup on a trophy is significant, and it symbolizes all of the sacrifice they went through to get the victory, to get the cup. In fact, just a week before the Passion began, James and John, the buddies… (they probably were glad Peter wasn’t around) when they came up to Jesus and said, ‘Hey, when you set your kingdom up, You mind if we’re right by you up there?’ Wouldn’t that be nice? [Mark 10:37-38, Jesus says,
Mark 10:37 “And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.”]
Do you remember what Jesus said to them?
Mark 10:38 “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink?”
You remember what they said? ‘Yeah, we’re game!’ Idiots! They had no idea at all! You don’t want that cup! I don’t want that cup! Jesus is THE ONLY ONE who can drink that cup to the dregs! And if Jesus doesn’t drink that cup for you, you will drink it… to your devastation!
So for the balance of our time, I’d like to consider what does this cup contain? I know that some people think, well, the cup represents the wrath, the sin. Some say, ‘Oh no. The cup represent being separated from God.’ And let me tell you something. What the cup represented was a little bit like when we were raising kids. We would go to a restaurant. They would always take these cups and they’d go up to the fountain dispenser. Remember…? They do the suicide drink? Psst, psst, psst, psst. They’d fill it up with every available drink. Yuch! And then they’d drink it!
The cup that Jesus drank wasn’t a ‘suicide cup.’ But it would kill him. It was a cup of Sorrow. You look back in Matthew 26:38 where he says,
Matthew 26:38, “My soul, (the depths of my being) is very sorrowful even to death…”
The Greek literally says, “Surrounded by sorrow.” He used the word “peris” where we literally get the word “periscope.” “Surrounded by sorrow.” That’s literally what the Greek says. The pressure on the soul of Jesus was enough to kill him! Luke tells us, because he was a doctor, that there was this rare phenomena that took place that’s called the hematrodosis, where the blood breaks in the capillaries and it comes out [as sweat mixed with blood]. It almost never happens, but when it does, you know that person is under massive, massive pressure! And it’s [from] sorrow.
A few years ago, our church for Good Friday had what we called the Good Friday experience. Many of you will remember that. We made our way to different places in the church, different stations, and meditated upon the passion of Jesus. Basically, I was excited because of all of my gang, and most of them were new Christians. I was just sort of, you know, getting them from one place to another. My heart wasn’t in the whole thing, even though I thought it was all cool… until I got to the Garden of Gethsemane [he points] over there. That’s where it was. And as they read the drama, they had cups. You were supposed to write on your cup, what you meant when you said to God, ‘Not my will, but your will be done.’ And though I’ve crossed out what it was that was bringing me sorrow, I left the word “my” there so that you know that it wasn’t somebody else’s. I had great sorrow coming into that night, and suddenly I was completely caught up in the drama. My heart was incredibly heavy over something. At the point of weeping. I wasn’t sweating blood, but I was under a lot of pressure, and I had great sorrow. I am here to tell you, some of you right now feel like you’re surrounded by sorrow. I want you to take heart. Jesus knows your sorrow, He feels your sorrow, and in time, if you know Him, He will alleviate your sorrow.
This cup of sorrow gave way to the cup of Sin. This is what most people fall back on. It was the wrath of God. You think about what Jesus drank. This is a metaphor, but it’s a powerful one. Look how the Psalmist put it in Psalm 75:8:
Psalm 75:8, For in the hand of the Lord, there is a, (say it,) cup with foaming wine, well mixed, and He pours out from it. And all the wicked of the earth shall drain it down to the dregs.”
That’s what Jesus did. When He drank this cup of wrath, He drank it all down to the dregs for you and for me! Thank you very much!
On the flip side of the Bible in the book of Revelation [14:9-10], here’s what it says in
Revelation 14:9, “And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into (the what?) the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.”
When Peter took that swing at that [servant of the high priest] and cut off his ear, do you remember what Jesus said to him? He said,
John 18:11b “… Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given to me?”
‘Why would you try to prevent this? This is for your good. I don’t want that cup, but I’m the only One who can drink it.’ That’s what He was saying. In Jesus’ suffering, in His death, He drank the wrath of God down to the dregs. Either you accept Jesus, that He drank this cup of sin for you or prepare to drink it yourself and die forever. The cup of Sin.
And truly it was a cup of Separation. Matthew 26:39b says,
Matthew 26:39b, “My Father, if it be possible. Let this cup pass from me.”
[nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”]
What was going on? Jesus knew what would be happening when He would become sin. The Bible says,
2 Corinthians 5:21, “For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”
This is what was happening when He said in Aramaic,
Matthew 27:46b, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” Remember that?, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken Me?”
Remember that? “My God, my God, Why…” Why are we separated?
By the way, that quote is from Psalm 22:1
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
And the answer, as to why they were separated, which so often is the case, is found within the text. The Psalmist says in
Psalm 22:3,“You are holy.”
The Father and the Son were separated… for the first time EVER! That’s why Jesus became unholy… for us! And that’s where the separation took place. And that’s why He cried. In fact, if you read Hebrews 5:7,
[Hebrews 5:7, “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to Him who was able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverence.]
He lamented with a great cry. He was CRYING in the garden! There’s a cup of separation. This is why Habakkuk says ‘God’s eyes are too pure to even look upon evil.’
Habakkuk 1:13a, “You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong…”
Have you ever read that? There’s that separation.
And it was a cup of Substitution. In the end, Jesus drank the cup because we couldn’t… Right? It was a cup of Substitution. You see it there earlier. We didn’t actually read it, but earlier during the communion account, during the Lord’s Supper, he says in Matthew 26:27-28,
Matthew 26:27, “And He took a cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
Christ died for our sins. Do you know what the word “FOR” means?
I was watching a documentary after the Afghan war. An interviewer was interviewing a widow whose husband had died on the battlefield. The interviewer asked her a question, but she wasn’t ready for the answer that she was going to get from the widow. She asked her a question… not glibly, but she hadn’t given much thought to it. The widow answered the question with a question. Here was the question. “What does it mean to you that your husband died for his country?” The widow’s reply arrested the interviewer and it arrested me! She looked right at the interviewer and she said, “What does FOR mean?”
When Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, He said
Luke 22:20, “This cup that is poured out FOR you is the new covenant in my blood.”
There are two ways to use “FOR.” [The first is] like a normal conjunction. The word that’s used here is the word “huper.” It literally means “on behalf of,” or “in the place of.” It’s talking about substitution. This was a cup of substitution.
The widow understood completely what FOR meant as the interviewer presented it. The interviewer hadn’t thought much of it. I don’t think we think much of it either when we say Christ died FOR our sins. The word “huper” means He died on our behalf! But she simply could not bring herself to accept that her husband’s death did anything for her country. That was the issue.
I have a friend I had the joy of leading to Christ during COVID who fought in this very battle. He had friends die right next to him. He struggled with this very thing until he understood what Jesus did for him. And please, for a moment, put aside your patriotism and pick up your faith.
Jesus drank the cup for you, not to give you a free country, but to give you a free soul…free from sin and eternal death! He didn’t come to be saved. He came to save! And I don’t know who said it, but it is as true now as it was then. Jesus paid a debt He did not owe, because we had a debt we could not pay. This is all wrapped up in the cup and so much more.
But it was a cup of Salvation. If you don’t have salvation, you’re done… Right? This cup was the cup of Salvation. This cup is the new covenant in my blood.
I love how the Psalmist put it. Colton [Willey] preached on it here a few weeks back. When [the Psalmist] concluded this joyous testimony, he says,
Psalm 116:12-13, “What shall I render to the Lord for all the benefits toward me? (I know what I’ll do. I’ll take up the cup.) ”I will lift up the cup (the cup of what?) of Salvation… and call on the name of the LORD.”
Years ago, we had an Easter play. It was actually a musical and a drama. We did a lot of those back in the day. And one of our missionaries to Brazil was our college pastor at the time. His name is Lucas Bair. And he was tasked to play Jesus. Well, he thought that was cheesy. He didn’t want to play Jesus. But he ended up playing Him. He didn’t get dressed up like Jim Caviezel on the Passion of Christ. But they had a garment on him. They made it look like he was bloody. They put a crown of thorn [on his head]. We made it look as dramatic as we could. The music was powerful! The drama was powerful! And Lucas would end up laying on a cross up here. It was very powerful! In the end, I invited all of the singers and actors to stand in the back of the foyer. There was Lucas standing in his Jesus outfit, and a little boy walked up to him and goes, “I asked you into my heart tonight!”
Would you ask Him into your heart today? What does that mean? It means that you recognize that Jesus drank the cup of sorrow, sin and separation and for salvation…. All of that and so much more! You believe that. If you understand that you are a sinner, separated from God, you will drink that cup if you don’t accept Jesus as the one who drank it for you. You can do so today. And if you are a real worshiper of Jesus, worship the One who drank the cup of wrath and separation and sorrow down to its dregs… for YOU! And thank Him for that. Will you do that?
Let’s pray together. Our Father, we love You and bless Your name for this wonderful drama, this passion, this Grief and Glory of Your Son, Jesus. Thank You for His substitutionary atonement that the cup He drank down to the dregs absorbed all of your wrath, so that we wouldn’t have to be afflicted by it. “Surely he bore our griefs and carried our sorrows, but we esteemed him stricken, smitten by you, dear God.” [Isaiah 53:4] We thank you for your Son, and we worship Him afresh today. I pray for those in this room right now who have never repented of their sin, that which Jesus drank. If that’s you, dear friend, and right now your heart is thumping, your heart is being pulled and you’re saying, ‘I want this. I want a relationship with Jesus. I believe he died for ME! He suffered for ME! He rose again for ME! Come into my heart, Lord Jesus, and be my Savior.’ If you prayed that from your heart, He will save you. And may those of us who do know you, Lord, love you more for all you’ve done for us. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.