Weekend, March 23, 2024

The Cup of Suffering

But Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword back into its sheath. Shall I not drink from the cup of suffering the Father has given me?” (John 18:11 NLT)

One day the mother of James and John, the Sons of Thunder, approached Jesus with them and said, “In your Kingdom, please let my two sons sit in places of honor next to you, one on your right and the other on your left” (Matthew 20:21 NLT).

Jesus said to them, “You don’t know what you are asking! Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of suffering I am about to drink?” (verse 22 NLT).

As He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus was looking at the cup He had spoken of. And He wasn’t going to take just a sip of it. He was going to drink it all. He would taste death for everyone. And He had to drink it and die on the cross.

The prophet Isaiah described this cup that Jesus recoiled from as God’s fury: “Wake up, wake up, O Jerusalem! You have drunk the cup of the Lord’s fury. You have drunk the cup of terror, tipping out its last drops” (Isaiah 51:17 NLT).

That is why it is insulting to God to suggest that all religions are true and that whatever belief system you adopt will get you to Heaven if you are sincere. If that were the case, do you think that God the Father would have allowed His Son to suffer like He suffered, both in Gethsemane and on the cross?

No.

But because there was no other way for us to be brought into a relationship with a holy God from whom we are separated by sin, the wrath of God the Father had to be poured out on God the Son. And for Jesus, this was a fate worse than death.

Then what kept Him going? What enabled Him to press on despite such difficult circumstances? We find the answer in Hebrews 12: “Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up” (verses 2–3 NLT).

Jesus told a story of a shepherd who had a hundred sheep, but one went astray. So, he went searching for it. And when he found it, he brought the sheep back, wrapped around his shoulders. Jesus concluded, “In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!” (Luke 15:7 NLT).

Jesus also said, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field” (Matthew 13:44 NLT).

But what was that joy that was set before Him? It was you. And it was me. That is why Jesus went through all that anguish. He did it for all those who would come to faith in the world. We were the joy set before Him.

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