A blog by Josh Humbert
Whether 2015 was a tremendous year or one of enormous struggle for you, I bet there’s a point of agreement we can find that centers on a certain cup. You remember, don’t you? You recall as I do, perhaps with the heartiest shake of the head we can muster, that there was actually a “controversy” about the color of cups that Starbucks used.
Lamest of the lame, right? Look, our country has shown how confused it has become more and more recently…but when there are “controversies” (and then follow-up controversies about the controversy) about the color of a coffee cup? Yikes.
So, as Good Friday arrives, let’s move beyond nonsense. Instead, may we find what our hearts thirst for in the examination of another (and altogether BETTER) cup controversy.
To begin, let’s see what the 80’s have to tell us….
The Princess Bride is a classic film that is not only still watchable but imminently quotable as well. If you’re familiar with the film at all, I’m positive you could give me a line or two of your favorite dialogue instantly.
Without spoiling too much for those who may be unfamiliar (but seriously…why haven’t you seen it yet?), the film tells the story of how an honorable, patient, and loving man named Westley is pursuing the lovely woman, Buttercup, after she is captured.
After battling his way through several henchmen, Westley comes to a gripping confrontation with the wise and verbose Vizzini, a Sicilian with a flair for logical entrapments. Their showdown centers on two cups, one of which contains the deadly poison called iocaine.
Here’s the scene:
It’s a battle “to the death” for the Bride with two men debating over cups and poison.
Which, of course, brings us to the moments before Good Friday.
Matthew’s Gospel records how after the Last Supper, Jesus went with His disciples to pray. Jesus knew the horrors that waited just around the corner.
Matthew 26:39-42 captures a monumental exchange in the entirety of human history. It goes like this:
And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour? Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done.”
The colossal weight of what’s happening here is immense.
Why is Jesus talking about cups in the middle of a prayer? Why does He keep mentioning this? What’s this about?
The Old Testament speaks of God’s wrath toward human sinfulness in several word-pictures. One of those images is that of a cup of bitter, awful wine. The prophet Jeremiah has several references to God’s cup of wrath including 51:17 where it says, “O Jerusalem, you who have drunk from the hand of the Lord the cup of His wrath, who have drunk to the dregs the bowl, the cup of staggering.” The psalmist in Psalm 75 describes it this way in verse 8: “For a cup is in the hand of the Lord and the wine foams; it is well mixed, and He pours out of this; Surely all the wicked of the earth must drain and drink down it’s dregs.”
The cup of God’s righteous wrath toward our sin contains an awful, terrible, staggering drink. Way beyond iocaine, this cup is the just punishment we all deserve for our rebellion against God and His good ways. It is nothing less than the wrath of a holy God.
This cup should be ours. Yours. Mine.
So what is happening here in this garden?
This is what The Princess Bride points us too. This is the real, clearer, and forever-better version. It’s a battle to the death for the Bride with God and Jesus talking about cups and poison.
Here, in the plot-twist of all time, Jesus isn’t arguing or trying to logically trick His way out of THAT cup…He’s lovingly reaching for it.
This is Jesus. The perfect and sinless One. God in the flesh. God with us. Jesus, who has lived a life of complete righteousness, is now willing to take the cup WE deserve. He is going to drink every single drop.
You and I, we drink the filthy water that this world offers us. You and I, we cling to broken cisterns that can’t hold anything. We try to satisfy our taste in the disgusting sewage water of false idols that end up enslaving us. The cup in God’s hand should be ours.
The Cross is the awful, terrible, staggering drink. The Cross is the wrath of God that you and I so richly deserve. It is OUR cup. But Jesus is now prayerfully lifting it to His lips. Not just for a sip, but for the totality of it.
Westley is known by Buttercup for the phrase he often tells her, “As you wish.” As Christians, we are drawn to worship by the humble, extravagant love of Jesus as He tells God, “Your will be done.”
For the glory of a holy God and for the salvation of hopeless sinners like you and me, Jesus willingly switched cups with us and took the poison wine. This is what Good Friday is about. This is what has been done for you. For you.
Someone loved you enough to take the cup you alone deserved.
So, we can say with confidence: Jesus, the True and Better Westley, switched the cups. He took the cup of God’s wrath and He leaves behind the cup of salvation.
Psalm 116:12-13 says it this way:
What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits toward me? I shall lift up the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord.
The cup of salvation is full of Living Water. The glory and joy of God Himself. No longer do we swallow the dirty water of old; we taste and see that He is good! He alone satisfies the thirst of our heart.
He swallowed death, we taste life everlasting.
He is the Lion Man of Judah. This is what He accomplished on the Cross.
I hope your faith is strengthened with the truth of this lyric video posted below. May it bring you to reflect on what Good Friday means. May it help you remember what Jesus did with those cups. May it bring you to worship Him more.
The ending tag of that song is perfect: “Weep no more, the wrath is on the tree! Weep no more, there’s no more left for me!”
There’s no controversy there — just the clear victory of Christ on the Cross.
Yes and amen.
Thanks for reading. Your insights and comments are always welcomed. If you enjoyed this, please share it. Want more? You can check the archive or hear me on the Cross-Cutting Podcast.