Sunday, January 17, 2016

Trading Cups

Jefferson Cup
(by Pastor Joe)
The Word for today:
Isaiah 51:17-52:12
mark this: Isaiah 51:22
What is the one drink you just can't get down?
Orange juice after you brush your teeth?
Tap water from the State Park?
Diet pop?
Red Bull?
Cranberry juice?
Nasty protein shake?
Youth group Kool-Aid?
For some it's coffee, or tea, or wine. Maybe its a Christmas related drink such as mulled cider or egg nog. The point is, that every one of us have a list of certain beverages that go beyond dislike, we can't stand them.
In this passage today, Jerusalem has tasted a few sips from a very difficult cup- the cup of God's wrath. This is a most bitter drink, brought on by their own blatant disobedience and spiritual adultery. As a result, Jerusalem finds itself with zero guidance, full of destruction and devastation, no food, no peace. The people are trapped by their sin. (51:18-20)
Yet in the midst of these desperate times, God Himself makes a promise: He has pleaded for these people, and taken away that bitter cup of His wrath, a foreshadowing of what was to come.(51:22)
Over 800 years later, in that very same city, God was still talking about cups. On the night of the Last Supper; the very night before He was betrayed, arrested, tried, mocked, beaten, crucified and buried, Jesus was talking about cups.
The first cup is mentioned in Mathew 26:27-28:
Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying,
"Drink from it, all of you.
This is my blood of the covenant,
which is poured out for many
for the forgiveness of sins."
Jesus Christ was showing His followers what would transpire in the next 24 hours. He was telling them of the new covenant between God and man: that because of His shed blood, many can know forgiveness of their sins. What amazing news, this once and for all sacrifice would cover us in ways that nothing else ever could. In it we find redemption, freedom, and new life.
But never forget that there was a second cup that night also. We see that cup a little bit later in a garden called Gethsemane. Jesus is preparing to complete His task and spends His last free hours with His Father, wrestling in prayer. He cries out:
"My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." (Mat. 26:39)
He understands, better than anyone else, what is to transpire the next day. He knows that He will face all the emotional trauma of being abandoned, denied, and unjustly accused. He knows that He will face all the physical trauma of being struck, scourged, crowned with thorns, and ultimately crucified. But worst of all, He knows that He will drink the cup of God's wrath, and in utter despair, cry out "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Mt. 27:46)
Jesus Christ willingly drank the cup of God's wrath for us, when He, alone of all people, was the only one who didn't deserve it. Never forget, whether you are participating in a Communion service, or simply enjoying a refreshing drink, that the wonderful cup of the New Covenant is available only because Jesus was willing to consume the bitter cup we were rightfully due.

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