by David Kidd
Have you ever wondered why Jesus prayed, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42, NKJV; author’s emphasis)?
At the Lord’s Supper we often emphasize the terrible physical aspect of the cup of Jesus’ sufferings (the brutal cup): the floggings, the crown of thorns, the nails through Jesus’ hands and feet, and the excruciating pain of hanging on the cross. The word we use today to describe the worst kind of pain is excruciating. It’s interesting how this word has a link with the word crucifixion. Charles Spurgeon writes:
We know that the greatest . . . pain that the body can endure, is that arising from a bone out of its place. . . . Now when the Lord was raised up upon the cross, and his sacred body hung in the air from the nails, all the joints began to give, so that the bones were parted the one from the other so visibly that, in very truth (as David had prophesied [in Psalm 22:14, 17]) they might tell all his bones, and thus, throughout his whole body, he endured acute torture (The Treasury of David, Vol. 1, p. 343).
We can’t be 100 percent sure why Jesus prayed for the cup to be removed, when the cross was always His destiny. But if we turn our eyes also toward the non-physical aspects of the cup, we might better understand the horrible extent of the agony Jesus was experiencing. For example, the cup was also:
- an undeserved cup: Jesus suffered as an innocent man for others;
- a treacherous cup of rejection: Peter, Judas, all the disciples, His own nation, and His creation deserted and disowned Him;
- a cup of spiritual warfare: The cup involved Jesus fighting the forces of darkness arrayed against Him (Luke 22:53; Colossians 2:15);
- a sin-filled cup: Imagine the agony for the holy Christ to take the sins of the world on Himself (2 Corinthians 5:21);
- a cup of God’s wrath and a curse against Him (Isaiah 53:4; Galatians 3:13);
- the cup of the forsaken: Compare Jesus’ cry of being forsaken with the martyrs who were singing as they burned at the stake. They had the comfort of God and the love of God shed abroad in their hearts. Jesus felt the terror of being abandoned by God.
Glory be to our Lord who never wavered in His willingness to do His Father’s will.
David Kidd serves the Adelaide, South Australia church.