Drinking the Cup of Fury
Wake up, wake up, O Jerusalem! You have drunk the cup of the LORD’s fury. You have drunk the cup of terror, tipping out its last drops.
In Isaiah 51:17, as in many verses of the Old Testament, drinking the cup is a symbol of receiving God’s judgment. Jerusalem drank “the cup of the LORD’s fury” when the Babylonians invaded, destroying the temple and taking the best of her citizens to Babylon. Yet Isaiah offers the hope that, in time, the cup of fury would be removed from Israel.
We find this imagery of the cup in the New Testament. For example, when the soldiers came to arrest Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter drew a sword in order to defend Jesus. But Jesus replied: “Put your sword back into its sheath. Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?” (John 18:11, NRSV). For Jesus, the “cup” was symbolic of the cross. There he would drink the cup of God’s judgment, not for himself because he deserved it, but for Israel and, indeed, for all humanity.
Because Jesus drank the cup of divine judgment, he is able to offer us a different cup: “After supper he took another cup of wine and said, ‘This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you'" (Luke 22:20). Jesus drank our cup of judgment so that we might drink his cup of salvation.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Do you truly live as if Jesus drank your cup of judgment? Do you live in the freedom of God’s grace? Or do you try to earn God’s favor by your own efforts?
PRAYER: Gracious Lord Jesus, how I thank you for drinking the cup of fury. You took upon yourself the righteous judgment of God, thus bearing my sin in my place. You drank the cup of judgment so that I might drink from the cup of salvation. What a wonder!
Dear Lord, since you drank my cup of judgment, help me not to live as if I had to drink some of it too. May I truly accept the freedom you have offered me. And may I use this freedom, not to sin, but to serve you in gratitude and joy. May I drink your cup of salvation in celebration. Amen.