The Dreaded Cup Matthew 26:26-36

Matthew 26:36-46

Introduction:  last week I mentioned in one point that Jesus is our representative

  • Like David defeated Goliath for Israel, Jesus defeats death and sin for us
    • He does something we cannot do
    • We understand this theologically
    • But tend to forget it as we read some of the gospel narratives
    • Like last week we looked at how the disciples’ denial didn’t affect their salvation or ours—Jesus’ work accomplishes everything we need
    • That’s a big emphasis in the gospel narrative, yet we tend (I tend) to read the narratives like Aesop’s fables—stories with a moral to follow
  • This week we see the same emphasis in Gethsemane
    • Jesus’ cup isn’t ours
      • We receive the cup of blessing
      • Jesus’ cup was the cup of cursing and punishment
    • Similar to denying Jesus
      • We might, and do, deny Jesus in moments—but He would never deny himself, his Father, or us
    • Jesus would never refuse to take the cup of cursing for his people
      • And this cup will never be given to anyone who trusts Jesus as their savior
  • There is at least one other point here—concerning prayer, specifically unanswered prayer, and we’ll look at that next week, but for this week we’re looking at “the dreaded cup

The setting:  Gethsemane was on the Mt. of Olives.  Gethsemane is a Hebrew word that means “oil press”—it was where the olives were taken to be pressed into oil

And it’s where Jesus chose to make the most intense prayer of his earthly life

  • Luke 22:44, “And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”
  • V. 37 he began to be sorrowful and troubled then in v.38 He said, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death.”
  • Knox Chamblin wrote, saying this whole scene is reminiscent of Psalm 42.  Particularly verses 5-9 “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar. Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me. By day the LORD commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life. I say to God, my rock: “Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”

We’re at the brink of the most acute trial of Jesus’ life—his suffering and death. 

  • We’re church people, we’ve heard it a lot.  Jesus died for our sins. 
  • He didn’t deserve to die, we do. 
  • We’ve heard it so much that we’re basically immune to the immensity of what Jesus’ punishment and death meant
    • —some of us may never have considered what it meant. 
    • Some of us are calloused to it.

 Today we look at Jesus’ punishment in two points:  1.  The cup;  2.  Our place

  1. The Cup
    1. Even if you have no idea what the cup is—when you read this passage, you know it’s bad
      1. Jesus prays three times that he wouldn’t have to drink the cup (39, 43, 44)
      1. And you remember that Jesus wasn’t afraid of Satan—Matthew 4:1-11
        1. Not in the least concerned for what was happening in the wilderness
        1. So, this cup isn’t Satan or anything about Satan
      1. And Jesus had absolutely no second thoughts about the priests, pharisees or sadducees even though they ultimately were responsible for Jesus’ death
        1. Matthew 21:23-27 they question him “by what authority did you throw out the money changers!” Jesus shut them up by asking a question about John the Baptist.  That was that.
        1. So, this cup isn’t even about physical death, not really
      1. Jesus never asked his heavenly father to take away Satan or his earthly enemies, but he did ask the Father to take away this cup.  Jesus really doesn’t want to drink this cup.
        1. We need to let that sink in.
        1. He prayed three times not to drink the cup
    1. What’s in the cup?
      1. This is where knowing your OT understanding fills out your NT knowledge
    1. Jeremiah 25:15-16  Thus the LORD, the God of Israel, said to me: “Take from my hand this cup of the wine of wrath, and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it. They shall drink and stagger and be crazed because of the sword that I am sending among them.” (27) “ Drink, be drunk and vomit, fall and rise no more, because of the sword that I am sending among you.’”
      1. It is the cup of judgment and death.  No one who drinks of it will rise again.
    1. Psalm 75:18  For in the hand of the LORD there is a cup with foaming wine, well mixed, and he pours out from it, and all the wicked of the earth shall drain it down to the dregs.
      1. This cup is reserved for the wicked—it’s punishment for their sins.
    1. This is the same cup that we read about in Revelation
    1. Rev. 14:9-10  And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.
      1. This is the cup of torment for anyone who worships a god other than the Triune God of the Bible.
    1. Rev. 16:17-21  The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple, from the throne, saying, “It is done!” And there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and a great earthquake such as there had never been since man was on the earth, so great was that earthquake. The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell, and God remembered Babylon the great, to make her drain the cup of the wine of the fury of his wrath. And every island fled away, and no mountains were to be found. And great hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, fell from heaven on people; and they cursed God for the plague of the hail, because the plague was so severe.
      1. So, what’s in this cup?  Death, judgment, punishment, being considered wicked.
      1. But chief among the contents of this cup, the one theme that most consistently fills the cup—this is the cup of God’s holy wrath.
      1. Jesus prays that the cup of God’s wrath would pass by him.
    1. The eternally begotten Son of God, begotten not made, begotten before all worlds, very God of very God, but being born of the virgin Mary and therefore fully man—was given this cup full of God’s perfect and holy anger at sin.
      1. And as it said in Psalm 75, Jesus, being counted wicked on the cross, drained that cup to its dregs.
      1. When we affirm our faith with the Apostles’ Creed and it comes to that statement, “he descended into hell” it is referring to this cup.
      1. Our Lord Jesus suffered what those in hell will suffer.
      1. God’s perfect, unquenchable wrath over sin.
      1. Sproul—hell isn’t the absence of God’s presence, it’s the absence of God’s grace.  The place where a sinner is present before God in all his holiness without anything to cover him, to protect him.
      1. Another person said that the difference between Heaven and Hell isn’t God’s presence, it’s the presence of a mediator:  1 Tim 2:5  For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,
        1. In Hell you are eternally present in God’s holiness with no one there to mediate between you and his perfection that must destroy sin.
        1. In Heaven, Jesus is your mediator making you pleasing to God and an object of eternal love
    1. Jesus didn’t pray to have the cup taken away because he didn’t want to save his people from their sins—it’s clear that he did.
      1. “Nevertheless not what I will, but as you will” and “My father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.”
      1. It’s just that, Jesus prayed that if there is any other way to do this, please, Father, let’s do it that way
  2. Our Place
    1. Lowell—“far better than I deserve” Consider yourself correctly
      1. The world tells you that you deserve all kinds of good things, because you earned them
        1. Because of your general decency
        1. Because everyone deserves them
        1. “I deserve hell”
      1. Saying it ain’t believing it—but it’s a start
        1. Psalm 22:6 “I am a worm and not a man”
        1. From “How Deep the Father’s Love For Us”
          1. Why should I gain from his reward?
            1. Reward—in Jesus work, resurrection wasn’t grace given to him, it was an earned reward.  Like the Stanley Cup is the reward for the best hockey team.  He earned by being beaten for it, by dying for it, by trusting the Father who was punishing him on the cross for it.
            1. Yet believers are given Jesus’ reward, just for believing him.
            1. Why should you gain from Jesus’ work when it was your sin he died for?
          1. Ashamed I hear my mocking voice.
            1. While the only begotten son dies for your sins, you see him and revile him, condemn him, make fun of him.
      1. Knowing who you really are—a sinner who deserves death and hell; a sinner who put Jesus on the cross; and even now, a believer who still sins, who knows Jesus died for you, but you continue to revile him by loving your sin more than your savior—knowing who you really are should make you turn to your Savior all the more quickly
    1. Jesus’ hell saved us from hell
      1. For believers the miseries of this life is the most hell we will ever know
      1. These miseries are terrible—some of them more terrible than any of us want to ever think about
      1. But they don’t last forever, and as terrible as it is to suffer at the hands of an evil person, it’s not being punished at the hands of an infinite God
      1. Knowing Jesus took our hell should help us live for heaven—living this life with an eternal perspective
    1. Jesus’ hell is part and parcel with our sanctification
      1. Rom. 8:16-17  The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
      1. we share Christ’s sufferings in order that as he has passed from a labyrinth of all evils into heavenly glory, we may in like manner be led through various tribulations to the same glory [Acts 14:22][1]
      1. We must never think that even though Christ suffered greatly in this life we are somehow above suffering for glory’s sake. 
      1. Acts 14:21-22  When Paul and Barnabas had preached the gospel, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.
    1. Jesus’ cup of suffering handed to us is the cup of God’s grace
      1. Jesus received wrath, punishment, and guilt, but believers receive a different cup—“This cup is the new covenant in my blood”.
      1. Justification—declared innocent before God, forgiven of all our sins, and made righteous by Christ
      1. Adoption—received into God’s heavenly family, like a true healthy family—this means you can never be lost, you’ll never be removed from the family; and you are given all the rights and privileges of the family!  Romans 8:17, co-heirs with Christ
      1. Sanctification—the new covenant makes you more like Christ himself, living as a follower of Jesus, being renewed after his perfection, his obedience to the father (not my will, but as you will), and his desire for God’s glory
      1. Glorification—the final redemption, no more suffering (why we live with a heavenly eye) and no more sin (the end, the goal of sanctification)
      1. Jesus suffered hell and that is what you deserve, everything we get in this life is better than what we deserve.  Jesus drank the dreaded cup you deserve, so take the cup he is giving you, the cup of the new covenant.

The Nicene Creed

429 Let they Blood in Mercy Poured

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.


[1] John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion & 2, ed. John T. McNeill, trans. Ford Lewis Battles, vol. 1, The Library of Christian Classics (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011), 702.