The Cup of Wrath

Right before Jesus was arrested, we find him in the Garden of Gethsemane. There he prays two different prayers:

The book of Mark says that “He took Peter, James, and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,‘ he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.” Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. “Abba, Father, he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will” (14:33-36 NIV). In Luke’s account “an angel appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of  blood falling to the ground” (Luke 22:43-44 New International Version).

He returns to his disciples who were sleeping, urging them to pray that they not be tempted and then he comes back to pray a different prayer. “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done” (Matthew 26:42). Do you see the difference? The first prayer (when he is in great distress) asks, if it is possible and is trying not to have “this cup”. The second states, if it is not possible, accepting the outcome if there is no other way unless he partakes in “the cup”. Both prayers end in wanting his Father’s will before his own.

Jesus’ death on the cross is one of the most gruesome, humiliating, agonizing, painful and unthinkable ways to die. However, I do not think that Jesus’ prayer here was about getting out of dying on the cross. I believe that he was so distraught about drinking “the cup of wrath!”  His sheer awareness of the wrath of his Father against sin is what caused such intense anguish! I don’t think he was afraid to die on the cross. Firstly, because of his love..

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

                             John 15:13                                                                   

Secondly, I believe that there is no person or thing that could ever cause Jesus to fear, but the wrath of God.

“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” -Matthew 10:28

There are a few ways “the cup” can be interpreted. In Strong’s Concordance the word “cup” in Greek is translated as:

ποτήριον potḗrion, pot-ay’-ree-on; neuter of a derivative of the alternate of G4095; a drinking-vessel; by extension, the contents thereof, i.e. a cupful (draught); figuratively, a lot or fate:—cup. (1)

It can be interpreted as Jesus’ death on the cross was “the cup” figuratively, his lot or fate. It can also be interpreted as the contents of a vessel’s liquid. The interesting thing to me, is beyond closer examination, the two drinks of wine that Jesus was offered, mirror Jesus’ prayers at the Garden of Gethsemane. The first drink offered was right after he finished carrying the cross at Golgotha/Place of the Skull. It was wine mixed with gall/myrrh. “They offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it (Mark 15:23). Matthew’s version says, “They offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasking it, he refused to drink it” (Matthew 27:34). This correlates with Jesus’ first prayer. He didn’t want to drink the cup.

The second drink, like the second prayer. He has accepted that “the cup” cannot be taken away unless he drinks it. He actually asks for it. Right after he drinks he cries out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46)

“Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished” (John 19:28-30).

Now lets talk about the significance of all of this. Around the time of Passover this took place. We know this because in John 18:39 it states, that it is “custom for me (Pilate) to release to you one prisoner at the time of Passover.”

Back in Exodus 12 during the original Passover, we learn that God was sending a plague on Pharaoh and Egypt to kill all the firstborn and the firstborn of all the livestock.  He told the people of Israel that they are to choose a lamb and slaughter it at twilight. “Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs. That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast” (12:7-8). “On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn-both men and animals-and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt” (12:12-13).

Eat nothing made of yeast. Wherever you live you must eat unleavened bread. Then Moses summoned all the elders of Israel and said to them, Go at once and select the animals for your families and slaughter the Passover lamb. Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin and put some of the blood on the top and on both sides of the doorframe (Exodus 12:20-22). Another one of the restrictions were that none of the bones of the sacrifice were to be broken (Ex 12:46).

The “lamb” that is being referred to here is Jesus. We know this from John 1:29, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Also none of his bones were broken on the cross. “When He had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. Now it was the day of Preparation and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus and then those of the other. But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water (John 19:30-34). Jesus was the greatest prophet of all time. All he had to do was speak the words and his prophetic decree would cause it to be, like when he said, “It was finished.” He died and gave up his spirit.

Did you catch the hyssop similarity in both what God instructed them to use at the Passover to put the blood on the doorpost and what the sponge was placed on to deliver the wine vinegar to his mouth. Another symbolism in the hyssop is its cleansing properties. Symbolic for cleansing the “new temple.”

“Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” -Psalm 51:7 NIV

There is also a connection in the blood and water that was poured out when the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side. At the Last Supper, he was introducing them to the new covenant. “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.  I tell you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s kingdom” (Matthew 26:28-29). Another point, is that “fruit of the vine” can mean both figuratively and literally. “I am the vine, you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing (John 15:5) The literal interpretation is that the actual cup that he served that day was “new wine” fresh from the grapes before fermentation occurs. The “fruit right off the vine” (comparative to grape juice) in its newest stage.

This brings me back to the two drinks Jesus was offered. Both would have been fermented wine. The first was a mixture and the second was not a mixture. Even though it is called wine vinegar. According to biblestudytools.com, the Hebrew word “vinegar” was applied to a beverage consisting of wine or strong drink that had turned sour but, sometimes artificially made by using barley and wine, and thus liable to fermentation. (2)

It is argued by some of the Jewish people and certain Rabbi’s whether wine is allowed to consume during Passover. Some say yes and make it a part of their Passover meal. Some say no, because of the fermentation. Barley and vinegar are not permitted during the Passover. This is because of the yeast and leaven. The leaven is avoided during Passover, because it is represents sin. Jesus drank of “the cup” because all the sins of the world would be laid on him and he took the wrath of all sin and poured out his own blood so we would be forgiven and not have to drink of the cup of wrath ourselves! Hallelujah!!!

The blood of Jesus was necessary for the sacrifice. In the Old Testament times in Leviticus, it talks about the sacrifices that were necessary to pay for forgiveness of sins. Over and over the instructions of Aaron’s sons, the priests, were to sprinkle the blood against the altar on all sides. The rest of the blood is to be  poured out at the base of the altar. The animals were pure animals like bulls, rams, lambs, goats or doves/pigeons. By being pure that meant they did not eat other animals. They ate grass/grains, nuts, berries, foliage etc. (Much like the dove that was used in the story of Noah. The raven did not come back because it was a bird of prey, therefore preying on the dead animal carcasses floating around in the water). They were to be without defect, in lieu of the sacrificial lamb .The grain offerings must be made without yeast. God made it possible for anyone to be able to afford a sacrifice. This very thing is what made Jesus so angry that he cleaned out the temple. “In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned the tables. To those who sold doves he said, Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market! His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.” Then the Jews demanded of him, “What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do al this?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days” (John 2:14-19). Shortly after this incident takes place the old covenant shifts to the new covenant on the cross. From the man-made temple to the temple of Jesus and salvation through his death and resurrection. The curtain is torn in two and now anyone can have access to God “the Holy of Holies” through Jesus. Faith is now the new currency.

Jesus also tells them another time they asked for a miraculous sign about what was about to happen using the story of Jonah. “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here” (Jesus) (Matthew 12:39-41). The coolest part of all is the word Jonah/Jonas means dove Ἰωνᾶς Iōnâs, ee-o-nas’; of Hebrew origin. (1)

The Old Testament really does point to Jesus! The Old Testament is centered around God the Father, preparing for Jesus the son. The New Testament is centered around Jesus doing his Father’s business/will of his Father. They work together in a common thread. The Old Testament Prophets basic message is repentance, the New Testament Prophets/Apostles/Disciples basic message is repent and believe, otherwise known as, “The Good News!” I am blown away by the prophetic insights, hidden meanings, amazing use of the spirit throughout the word and depth of foreknowledge! It is truly incredible to see how the puzzle fits so perfectly together. What an amazing God!!!!

 

References:

  1. Faith. (1995). In Strong’s exhaustive concordance: New American standard Bible.      (Updated ed.). Retrieved from http://www.biblestudytools.com/concordances/strongs-exhaustive-concordance/
  2. Retrieved from http://www.biblestudytools.com/

Photo credit: free photo from by June Silny on Unsplash

 

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