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THE CUP WHICH MY FATHER HAS GIVEN ME.
In the full light of the Saviour’s deity, John views all from the standpoint of the Cross as he writes his gospel. He gives us the beginning as seen from the end. To him the end interprets the beginning, for in Revelation he affirms that the Lamb was “slain from the foundation of the world”.
In John chapter eighteen we see the Saviour move forward to the time sacrifice saying, “Here I am . . . I have come to do your will, O God”. He goes to meet the enemy. John does not give us the details of Gethsemane’s agony. It is here that the battle is fought and won. We can never know how earnestly the Son, as man, could have wished that the cup might pass from him, for who can understand the depths of meaning in the words, “He was made sin for us”. This is the Lamb of God upon whose sacred brow the Hand that governs the universe is about to pour sins as innumerable as the grains of sand in all the earth. “He who spared not his own Son but delivered him up for us all”.
The battle is fought and won in the garden. It was not possible that the cup pass, it must be drunk to the very last dregs. “Not my will, but yours be done.” Victorious, the Saviour goes on to meet the rabble who were guided by Judas. But His holy presence was more than they could bear. They seek Jesus, but when He says, “I am,” and steps forward to give Himself up, “they drew back and fell to the ground” (John 18 v6).
Peter draws his sword and strikes the high priest’s servant. “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me” (John 18 v11). The Saviour does not only see Pharisees and priests, soldiers with swords and spears, Judas and the rabble. From the human standpoint it was Jewish bigotry, the envy of priests, the treachery of a disciple greedy for gain, the rabble blinded by passion, which had precipitated the events that culminated in the killing of the Son of God. But Jesus, though fully aware of the development of events and their causes from the human angle, looks beyond and sees the unfolding of the Father’s purpose. “Shall I not drink the cup the the Father has given me?” It does not remove a single bitter dreg from the awful cup. But the comfort for the Master was to know that it is the Father’s hand that is upon every circumstance. Not that the Father inspired the hate and the treachery, the crown of thorns and the rest, the powers of darkness were responsible for all that. And no one realised it more fully than the Saviour, for He said, “This is your hour - when darkness reigns”. Satan was moving all hell against the Son of God. He entered into Judas, he sifted Peter and fanned Jewish religious bigotry to a white heat.
The Saviour sees it all and knows its hellish source. But the heavenly Father, who has sovereign control of the universe and utter dominion in the affairs of men, reigns supreme. He has not caused any of it, but He has permitted it. Back in the garden of Eden, when Adam sinned, God promised a Saviour. Peter saw it on the day of Pentecost when, facing the croud, he exclaimed, “Jesus . . . was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross” (Acts 2 v22-23). The hands of men are there, but the hand of God is also there. Jesus sees it and rests in the midst of the terrible blast of evil. “Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”
It would be folly to deny that we are in the presence of a great mystery, but we leave the mystery with God and move on to what concerns us. Much has been said and written about the meaning of the Cross, which is as it should be, for nothing in the pages of history can compare with it, but it is doubtful if we will ever be able to grasp all of its meaning. The mind unenlightened by the Holy Spirit will always stumble here. Paul’s verdict was that it is foolishness to men. It is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise” (1 Cor. 1 v19). Let’s be wise indeed and take God’s verdict about a matter which He alone can understand, for after all, “The foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom” (1 Cor. 1 v25), and “God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe” (1 Cor. 1 v21),
But Paul is not just talking about preaching, he is talking about the preaching of the Cross, the power of God, as he speaks of it in 1 Corinthians 1 v18. “We preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor. 1 v23-24).
How much better it would be if we would be willing to accept, along with Jesus, that the cup was placed in His hands by the Father. When we accept that the Cross is the word of God, His masterpiece into which He pours all His love and wisdom and power, then all the mysteries are solved, and what is infinitely more significant, the power of God for the salvation of the sinner is released.
The whole Bible is full of the fact that the Saviour’s bitter sufferings of death were to put away the sin of the world. There are those who do not like John’s mode of expressing it, but as he says in his first epistle the blood of Christ cleanses from all sin. No sinner who enjoys actual forgiveness, justification and acceptance with God, ever objected to this Biblical mode of expressing redemption. There is only one ground that is safe. Jesus Himself took it that awful night, “Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me”.
None but God can tell us the actual meaning of the cup. Since the Cross is foolishness to the wisdom of men, let us embrace the foolishness of God which is wiser than men. The millions upon millions of redeemed souls who are round about the throne of God understand, for they, with God’s eyes, see the deepest mystery of Calvary unfold before their heavenly vision. Then they sing the new song saying, “You are worthy . . . because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation . . . Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and praise.” (Rev. 5 v9 & 12).
From: ‘John Looks at the Cross’.
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