The Cup

Bible Book: Matthew  26 : 36-46
Subject: Forgiveness; Lord's Supper; Palm Sunday

The Cup

Dr. J. Mike Minnix, editor,

Horace Bushnell said, "Forgiveness is man's greatest need and highest achievement." He was certainly correct, for sin is man's greatest problem and the removal of it is of eternal consequence. Since we all have sinned, we need a place to be cleansed and washed from the inside out.

It is interesting to note how soap products have been enhanced in the last few years. We have products now that can get almost any stain out of carpet. There are soaps that can clean your skin of almost any stain. We now have products on the market that a person can pull out and remove a stain on a tie, jacket or skirt right the restaurant at the moment the spill takes place. But, no one has ever developed a stain-remover for the soul. No one can cleanse the heart – no one but Jesus can do that!

Thank about something interesting with me today. As far as we know God only wrote with his own hand three times.

1) The Commandments

First, in Exodus 20, we note that God wrote The Commandments with His own hand. Here he told us what we should do and not do.

2) The Condemnation

Then in Daniel 5 we find the writing on the wall by the hand of God. This can best be called the Comdemnation. Belshazer was weighted and found wanting on the scales of God. That is the case with each person. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

3) The Cleansing

Third, we see Christ writing on the ground in John's gospel. We do not know what he wrote but we do know that he spoke a word of forgiveness and cleansing toward the woman taken in adultery.

Note that we have Commandments, Condemnation and Cleansing. Without the latter the former becomes the matter. We have all broken the commandments and all stand condemned unless we have been cleansed. That brings us to the thought of forgiveness, which is fitting for this Palm Sunday.

Our text is Matthew 26:27-29, 39. Here we see Jesus offering a Cup and accepting a Cup. These incidents are very significant. I want us to take them in reverse order. We will begin the Garden of Gethsemane and then back up to the Upper Room to see the full meaning of The Cup of the Lord.

I. The Cup for Me

Please note that Jesus drank a Cup For Me, and for you! What Cup am I speaking of? It is the Cup He accepted at Gethsemane and Calvary.

A. The Wrath in the Cup

Jesus knew he had a terrible cup before him. In Matthew 20:22 he was approached by James and John who wanted seats of authority in the kingdom to come. Jesus asked them if they were able to drink the cup that he was going to drink. It is apparent that the cup was going to be a difficult one and the two disciples had no idea what they were asking for.

What was this cup that Jesus spoke of? To understand the nature of this Cup, we must look at passages in the Bible that speak of it.

Look at Psalm 75:8,

8 “For in the hand of the LORD there is a cup, And the wine is red;

It is fully mixed, and He pours it out;

Surely its dregs shall all the wicked of the earth Drain and drink down” (NKJV)

This passage tells us that all the wicked must drink from the cup of God's wrath. Jesus was not wicked, but He was going to take our wickedness upon Himself that He might cleanse us and provide us with forgiveness. He drank the Cup of Wrath so that all those who would believe upon Him could avoid the terrible consequences of their sins. He took the Cup of wrath For Me and drank it    all!

Look at Isaiah 51:17,

“Awake, awake!

Stand up, O Jerusalem,

You who have drunk at the hand of the LORD The cup of His fury;

You have drunk the dregs of the cup of trembling, And drained it out.” (NKJV)

The passage in Isaiah points out God’s judgment upon Jerusalem due to her sins. The “Cup” is a Cup of Wrath for sin – even the sins of a city against God! It is a picture of the Cup Jesus took for us when He accepted the filth of our sins into and upon Himself. O, What a Savior! He took the “fury” of God’s wrath in that Cup.

Read Jeremiah 25:15-17, 27-29,

“For thus says the LORD God of Israel to me: "Take this wine cup of fury from My hand, and cause all the nations, to whom I send you, to drink it. 16 And they will drink and stagger and go mad because of the sword that I will send among them." 17 Then I took the cup from the LORD's hand, and made all the nations drink, to whom the LORD had sent me. 27 "Therefore you shall say to them, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: "Drink, be drunk, and vomit! Fall and rise no more, because of the sword which I will send among you."' 28 And it shall be, if they refuse to take the cup from your hand to drink, then you shall say to them, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts: "You shall certainly drink! 29 For behold, I begin to bring calamity on the city which is called by My name, and should you be utterly unpunished? You shall not be unpunished, for I will call for a sword on all the inhabitants of the earth," says the LORD of hosts.' (NKJV)

In Jeremiah we read about a cup mentioned as a Cup of Wrath for the nations! Again, you will note how awful the description of this Cup is. It involves guilt for sin and wrath from God. Do you see if? Can you feel it? Jesus took our sin, took God’s wrath against us at Calvary, in order that we might not have to drink of that Cup.

There are other passages in the Bible about the Cup of Wrath, but I think you get the point. What we see in these passages is that the cup speaks of wrath – for a city, for a nation, and yes, even for you and me. The Cup which Jesus spoke of was the Cup of our sins and our wrath! There is no way we can imagine the horrible nature of the contents of the Cup Jesus drank at Calvary for us!

The Cup Jesus prayed about at Gethsemane was the wrath of God against sin. Jesus drank it FOR me!

B. The Willingness of Christ

Jesus prayed, "Take this cup from me, yet not my will, but yours be done."

It may be that Jesus did not want to die before he reached the Cross, as some suppose he meant by this prayer. It could be that his holy nature was repulsed by sinful dregs in the cup and asked the Father above if there was not some other way. It could be that His heavenly nature was nauseated at the thought of the sinful wrath and judgment that floated in that awful cup. Nonetheless, he willing took the cup FOR me.

In John 8:11 we note that Peter pulled a sword upon Malchus, the servant of the High Priest, as Jesus was being arrested. Note what Jesus said, "Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?" Jesus willingly took the cup For each of us.

Are you touched by this? Is your heart warmed by the thought that God would love sinners like us enough to take the Cup we should have received? How cold the heart must be not to be affected by this truth.

On the cross Jesus once refused the vinegar offered to him. Yet Matthew states that he took the vinegar, at least figuratively, perhaps as a sign that he was drinking the cup of the Lord's wrath to the full. Immediately thereafter he said, "It is finished."

Jesus drank the terrible cup of your sins and mine. That is the Cup For Me. But, I want you to notice something more about the Cup:

II. The Cup through Me

In the Upper Room, before Jesus went out to Gethsemane and on to the Cross, He told his disciples to "divide" the cup among themselves. There is in the cup of forgiveness a necessity. We must serve each other and forgive each other.

A. God's Expectation Demands It

Matthew 6:14-15 "For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Farther will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, you Farther will not forgive your sins.

Ephesians 4:32 "Be king and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ.

As believers come to the Lord’s Supper, we are reminded of our need to love, forgive and serve each other. In fact, you can’t participate in the Lord’s Supper without being served and serving. Someone hands the bread to you. Then you hand it to another. All of us are involved in the reminder that we are to love, serve and forgive as God has loved, served and forgiven us!

B. My Experience Demands It

Since I am forgiven, I am to forgive. As I have been served, I must serve! Actually, the picture here is one of serving one another, forgiving one another and living out Jesus’ love to those around us. After all that Christ has done for me, can I do less than obey His command that I love as He loves?

III. The Cup to Me

After Jesus drank the dreadful cup to the dregs he then cleansed it, poured in his pure blood and offered it to the world. He actually carried out a symbolic service involving this with his disciples during the Last Supper before going out to die on the Cross. He was revealing all that the Cross would mean. The Cup Jesus offered them was a symbol of the Cup that He would cleanse and make available through His blood. Thank God, through Christ, the Cup of Wrath has been removed, and the Cup of Salvation has been given. What was the meaning of the Cup Jesus offered the disciples in the Upper Room before He went out to drink the awful wrath of God at Calvary?

A. The Forgiveness

All the world stands guilty before God. In the book, “Emotions, Can You Trust Them,” James Dobson tells of little children trying to describe their conscience. One little girl said that the conscience was something that burned inside when you did something you should not do. One little boy said that he did not know what the conscience is but he thought it had something to do with kicking girls and little dogs.

Actually, whether we are conscience of it or not, the whole world stands guilty before God. Some people are so guilty that they are very sensitive about it. A woman begged often and finally got her husband to go to church. The preacher spoke about drinking. The man said he would never go back because the preacher was preaching against him. His wife prevailed upon so he returned to the church once more. The preacher spoke against gambling. The man was guilty of gambling and swore that the preacher was picking on him specifically. Finally the wife came up with a way to prove to her husband that the preacher was not pointing him out. She put him in the broom closet just off to the side of the sanctuary. In the middle of the sermon some kids were cutting-up in the service. The preacher stopped and said, "If you kids don't stop talking I'm going to get the devil after you, and don't think I can't. I've got him right over here in the broom closet."

Well, be sure your sins will find you out! We all need forgiveness. Jesus offers it through his shed blood.

B. The Fellowship

His blood puts us in unique fellowship with God. Revelation 3:20-21, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” (NKJV)

Wow! What fellowship God gives us through His Son. We are made heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ. We are called “Friends of God.” We are made holy in Christ. We have our names written down in heaven. We have the promise that God will never leave us nor forsake us. Jesus drank the cup for me, offered me the cup of fellowship with Him through salvation, and then asks me to share the cup of love with others to show that His love abides in me.

C. The Future

This cup Christ offers is an earthly symbol of a heavenly reality. We will drink with him in Heaven. He will be faithful to us till we meet Him in heaven, where we will enjoy  What a day that will be! No religious book on earth offers total forgiveness of sin but the Bible! That is because only Jesus shed his blood for our sins, and only his blood will avail and supply forgiveness.


A man was dying and his friend came to visit him in the hospital. After a visit that lasted for some time, the friend asked the dying man, “Is there anything I can do for you?”

The very ill man replied, “No, there is nothing you can do for me. But, I do need something.” His friend said, “Anything – I stand ready to help.”

The dying man said, “I need someone to ‘undo’ some things for me!”

It was apparent that the dying man was facing death with regrets. He wanted somebody to go back in time and undo some things he had said and done. Oh, can anyone go back and undo my past?

Certainly the dying man’s friend could not go back and undo anything for him. Can anyone make right the things I have done wrong? Yes! There is only ONE who can do that, and that is Jesus! Take the Cup of Love, Forgiveness, Mercy, Grace – the Cup Jesus hands you today. Otherwise, one is forced to drink the Cup of Wrath. There is only one sensible choice – take the Cup of His Forgiveness now by accepting Him as your Lord and Savior!