Monday, September 29, 2008

The Cup of Wrath

We have previously established from Scripture that God’s wrath over sin is expressed throughout the Bible. And since we are all guilty of sin, we were destined to receive that wrath as a result of God’s righteous judgment against sin in order for God to maintain justice.

We are now going to look at what Jesus accomplished for us to save us from the horror of God’s wrath. In the Garden of Gethsemane in Matthew 26:39 , Jesus prayed to the Father that if it would be His will that “this cup be taken from me” (NIV). Also in John 18:11, when Jesus commanded that Peter put away his sword, He emphatically underscored that it was God’s will that He was to drink “the cup the Father has given me”.

The cup that Jesus drank is usually associated with the crucifixion. This connection is assumed based on the prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane that the Father would spare Him that painful horror and humiliation of dying on the cross. The cup is indeed connected with the crucifixion of Jesus and that assumption certainly is not wrong. But we need to consider what was in that cup.

Several portions of Scripture speak of God’s wrath. [1]

8For a cup is in the hand of the LORD, and the wine foams; It is well mixed, and He pours out of this; Surely all the wicked of the earth must drain and drink down its dregs.
(Psalm 75:8, NASB)

15For thus the LORD, the God of Israel, says to me, "Take this cup of the wine of wrath from My hand and cause all the nations to whom I send you to drink it. (Jeremiah 25:15, NASB)

22Thus says your Lord, the LORD, even your God Who contends for His people, "Behold, I have taken out of your hand the cup of reeling, The chalice of My anger; You will never drink it again. (Isaiah 51:22, NASB)

9Then another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, "If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. (Revelation 14:9-10, NASB)

The cup of wrath spoken of in Scripture is a metaphorical expression of the judgment of God. It was this cup that we would have been required to drink as a result of our sinful rebellion. But Jesus drank from that cup in our place so that we would not have to. Jesus drank all of it as our substitute. [1]

When Jesus was crucified, darkness spread over the land for three hours. It was during this time that Jesus drank that cup of wrath for us. Matthew 27:46 records the cry of Jesus approaching the end of that grueling three hours; “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Scripture does not reveal to us everything that took place during those hours. The physical suffering that Jesus endured during that time reveals just a glimpse of the anguish that Jesus actually suffered. His soul was in utter anguish as He had to endure being forsaken by His Father. Jesus became sin for us in order to secure our salvation. It was for our sake that God had to forsake His beloved Son.

The words of the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:21 describe what took place on that day. Jesus was made sin for us as a judicial transaction on our behalf.

21He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Jesus bore each and every one of our sins (1 Peter 2:24), and He did it willingly. What an incredible display of God’s love, that He would offer up His own Son whom he dearly loved to bear the full brunt of His wrath that we rightfully deserved. It was Jesus who was sinless, and yet He was required to take upon Himself our iniquity (Isaiah 53:6). It is this unique love that should cause us to look upon what Christ did with wonder. We will soon be examining a little further what Christ accomplished in His sacrifice in a couple of posts. [2]

1. Jerry Bridges, “The Gospel for Real Life” [NavPress, 2003], pg. 47-48.
2. Bridges, pg. 51-53.


Tim A. Blankenship said...

Great article. Forsaken by His Father would have been the punishment of hell, for He had never spoken to the Father as "God". "My God, My God why..." He had always cried to the Father.
There is much about the crucifixion of Christ that is still a mystery, yet we can see enough to know that He died for us.
Thank you for the article.

AuthenticTruth said...

Thanks for your comment. The person and work of Christ is something that all of us need to continually reflect on, to remind us of what Christ did for us. You are right, much of what took place still remains a mystery, but what has been revealed is enough to let us know the incredible price Christ paid on our behalf.