Have a Drink
Wednesday, November 21, 2018
Simon Peter then, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear; and the slave’s name was Malchus. So Jesus said to Peter, “Put the sword into the sheath; the cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?” John 18:10-11
There is a lot we could focus on here in John 18, from Peter’s reckless but admirable loyalty to Christ to Judas’ surprising and unforgettable betrayal, but I don’t want us to miss what Jesus is saying in verse 11. His allusion to a cup is deeply significant.
This particular cup is used explicitly in Scripture to illustrate God’s righteous indignation toward sin. When Babylon captured Jerusalem, God says that His people drank from the “cup of His anger” (Isaiah 51:17). In Jeremiah 25:15-17, the prophet describes God’s wrath against the nations as a “cup of the wine of wrath.”
No wonder we find Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, asking the Father to take the cup away from Him (Luke 22:42). The anguish in His soul is so devastating that he actually sweats droplets of blood. This is no mere cup of suffering; after all, Jesus suffered His whole life. This cup represents utter separation from God.
That’s what makes Jesus’ submission here all the more profound. He drank the bitterest cup ever known to man—worse than losing a loved one, or being abused or robbed, or going bankrupt, or being betrayed, or being maligned by friends. Jesus accepts the worst kind of suffering possible, and in so doing sets an unforgettable example to us all.
He didn’t take one sip, spit it out and walk away. In the words of Spurgeon, “He drank damnation dry.” Not just damnation in general, but yours and mine.
That’s why Jesus can tell Peter to put down his sword. He didn’t need Peter’s help, any more than He needs ours. Peter can only bring more death. Jesus will bring an end to death itself.
And don’t miss the fact that our Savior looks past His betraying disciple, past the ignorant Roman guards, past the unholy Sanhedrin, and past the devil himself to point to the hand of His Father. “This cup,” He effectively tells Peter, “is from my Father.”
In our study of John 17 we looked at the significance of that title, “Father,” and it is equally as significant in this passage. It’s as if Jesus is saying, “Peter, this painful, yet righteously poured cup of wrath is not offered by a cruel, unfeeling God; it isn’t poured out by some jeering, monstrous deity high in the heavens. It is given by a good and loving Father who has a glorious purpose in mind.”
Remember that today. As C.S Lewis wisely says, “At the heart of an obedient life is submission to the sovereignty of God.”
Look beyond your own trials today and see the loving hand that holds them all. However bitter your cup seems to be, your Father, a God who loves you so much that He sent His only Son to die in your stead, has a wonderful purpose in mind.
Trust Him in your time of distress and need . . . just as Jesus modeled for us here in John 18.