Drink Up

So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”
John 18:11

God always answers prayer. However, His answer is not always something my flesh wants to hear, because sometimes His answer is “no.”

To me, it is a telling thing that the very Son of God Himself presented at least one request to the Father which was answered in the negative. Earlier on the night of His betrayal and subsequent trial and execution, Yeshua prayed in a place called Gethsemane. Perhaps the feast of Passover was fresh in His mind as He asked the Father whether He, too, might not be passed over:

And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
(Mark 14:35-36)

Of course, we know what the answer was.

And at some point later that evening – a point after Judas’s betrayal and Peter’s somewhat bizarre attempt to protect the honor of his Master by slicing off the ear of the high priest’s servant – Jesus spoke the words first highlighted above: “Shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”

It was Tuesday morning when I read John 18; the middle point of three days of outrageous and inexplicable fatigue coupled with a slightly elevated temperature and (of course) a good, old-fashioned migraine.

“Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”

I don’t know about you, but I have spent a good deal of time asking God to remove painful circumstances. Whether it is physical pain from migraines, arthritis, or the like or the emotional pain of dealing with the mild psychosis that seems to afflict most children between the ages of 12 and 18, I have presented many requests on my own behalf and on behalf of my loved ones that we might be spared from suffering.

But sometimes the pain is God’s will for us.

Sometimes, it is through the pain that He is most glorified and that the most good is done.

Now of course, the Son of God’s case is very different. Although He desired not to endure the horrifying agony of crucifixion along with what was likely a much more excruciating separation from the Father when He bore the sins of the world, He was willing to drink the brimful cup of God’s wrath to the very dregs in order to glorify the Name above all names and to redeem the rebellious creatures He made in His own image and loves even in their rebellion.

My Lord and Savior knew that the pain had a purpose, and even though He asked if there was any other way, once He was certain of the answer He was ready to accept God’s will even though it was more than a little unpleasant.

“Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”

Naturally, no one will be redeemed through my own suffering. I am certainly not a spotless Lamb capable of paying for the sins of the world (although He has offered the cloak of His righteousness to me that I may cover my shame before God in His own garment – praise Him!).

Although I cannot see what benefit my own pain or the pain of my children and loved ones may bring to others, I can trust my Father to know what is best.  Certainly, God has already used some of my past suffering to encourage others, and so I can walk in confidence, knowing that He will work all things to the good of those who love Him.

And I do. I love Him.

While I would love to spare my three youngsters even a single step on the path of suffering, I also know that I have learned many lessons through pain that would have never struck home had I been spared difficulty.

So today, while I may ask that myself, my young friends, and my adult friends might be spared from migraine, emotional anguish, cancer, the consequences of sin, and other forms of suffering, I ask with a willingness to accept what the Lord sees fit to allow.

Shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me? If it be for His glory and for the spiritual growth and health of those He loves, of course I shall.

After all, if He did not spare His only beloved Son from following a path of torment and suffering, why should He spare me? For I have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

Yeshua did not and suffered anyway. For you. For me.

May all my pride be humbled before this understanding of the Servant King, and may His honor be forever displayed in every facet of my life.

Bottoms up!cup021


Behold, the Man

Then Pilate took Jesus and flogged him. And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe…

…So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Behold the man!”
(John 19:1-2, 5)

This is an invitation open to all: “Behold, the Man!”

What a shocking sight, really. To think that the Most High God, Creator of all things, would actually appear this way to us; bloodied and battered rather than honored and exalted. For just a moment today, let’s imagine the scene.

Behold the Man. What is it we see?

To some, He appears to be nothing more than an utterly defeated man. To the chief priests on that day, he appeared to be a blasphemer worthy of a more brutal death than stoning. Pilate saw a man without guilt. Others in the crowd may have seen nothing more than a spectacle, or a criminal, or may have given Him no notice at all.

Take a moment and behold the Man…

In truth, He is an anomaly; a living paradox — the Son of God and the Son of Man. The Creator clothed as one of His own creatures; the Eternal One submitting to torture and death.

Behold the Man.

There He stands — Redeemer, Savior, Sacrifice. From His unlikely birth to His willing death and beyond even that to His incredible resurrection, let us behold the Man.

Here is our true King, the King of kings, dressed though He may be in our sin instead of the glory that is His right and due. From the purple robe now adhering to the lacerations on His back to the entwined branches of thorns on His head, He is covered in rivulets of drying blood.

Though He had done no more than expose the corruption of the human heart, feed the hungry, heal the sick, and forgive sin, He stands before Pilate and the mob wearing shame, dishonor, reproach — none of which rightfully belongs to Him.

There He stands, clothed in gore-streaked garments of mockery and shame so that we may be clothed in His righteousness.

Behold the Man.

If any in the crowd knew Who He was and what it was He came to do — to give Himself as a ransom, even to offer pardon for the very ones who bloodied Him if they would take it — if any knew, how could they not love Him?

If only we could understand the extravagant nature of a love that would drive the Most High God to confine Himself to the limitations and weaknesses of a Man, even to offer up Himself to pay the penalty of sin.This is a ridiculous love; a love we would not even offer to a friendly acquaintance, much less a sworn and spiteful enemy. But He did.

Behold, the Man — the Holy One who willingly accepted the burden of guilt for a creation that despised and rejected Him many times over; who willingly accepted the cost of my sin and charged it to His own account even though I rejected Him at the time. Behold the Man who willingly did the same for you, if only you will accept the forgiveness He offers.

Behold the Man.

Is He not glorious? Is He not worthy of all our devotion? When I look upon the truth of what He did and the stark contrast to what I deserve, all that I am overflows in gratitude and worship. Oh, what He has done for us; what a price He has paid so that we may not die in our sins but rather die to sin and live for Him, both in this life and in Eternity!

It is no wonder that Paul could write to the Philippian church, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

Behold the Man!