“Shall I not drink the cup which my Father has given me?” Jesus asked this rhetorical question of Peter who had just swung his sword to defend himself and Christ. Peter reacted in fear to the soldiers who had come to arrest Jesus, but the King of kings responded in submission. In this same garden, Jesus – his hair and garments soaked in bloody sweat – had just spent intense hours on his knees in prayer and had settled His mind about that bitter cup. The Gospels detail the results of that decision – Christ’s willingness to finish every gulp of physical agony and spiritual suffering ultimately led to His glorious resurrection.
Cup is an interesting word in the Hebrew language from my point of view (and I claim no experience or expertise on the language, only time spent pondering the definition). Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible defines the word cup as “meach – fat, i.e. marrow from the root word machah – erase; grease or make fat; abolish, blot out, destroy, full of marrow, put out, reach unto, x utterly, wipe away, wipe out.” How unexpected this definition is. I would have thought the word cup would have been defined as ‘a small vessel for drinking,’ not potent with the negative connotation – to destroy, utterly put out. Or perhaps I’m just looking at the proverbial cup half empty. For the same drought that ended Christ’s earthly walk was the same holy elixir that blotted out my sins.
It is natural then to wonder what cup my Father has given me. When I first came to Christ, I drank a cup overflowing with forgiveness, joy, and companionship. Each day spent with Christ through His word, His church, and His creation deepened this love of living in His presence. Of course, life has its ups and downs, and we have to learn to accept how to take the good with the bad, the disappointments with the unexpected delights. Yet, I had not prayed so intensely for anything that blood ran down my face. I’m not sure why not. There have been many occasions when prayer and fasting were called for to intervene in the lives of those I love and in the world at large during tremendous upheaval in our need for peace.
Yet a time has come when this cup that I have been handed seems too sorrowful to drink, for the liquid pain of loss must be downed each day. I’ve asked the wrong questions such as ‘why’ and ‘how can this be’ and ‘what is the purpose in all this?’ The question that Christ asked, however, settles my mind, for the unstated answer is this: I will drink this cup for I know and trust the Father who has given it to me. In my ‘agony in the garden’ Christ is still with me. And I have a solid hope that resonates from Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” In these truths and with the comfort of Christ’s Holy Spirit I can willingly accept this cup as I look with expectancy toward the glorious resurrection when all things will be made new.