I recently preached a sermon about the trial of Jesus in Gethsemane. What was it about the cup of wrath that so terrified Him? I don’t ask lightly, nor do I ask cavalierly. My question comes from wanting to know and appreciate more what it was that He accomplished for me. I’ll take a look at one of the passages I used to reference the OT use of ‘the cup of wrath.’ Let’s look at Isa 51:17-18-
Wake yourself, wake yourself,
stand up, O Jerusalem,
you who have drunk from the hand of the LORD
the cup of his wrath,
who have drunk to the dregs
the bowl, the cup of staggering.
18 There is none to guide her
among all the sons she has borne;
there is none to take her by the hand
among all the sons she has brought up. (ESV)
The thing I notice is the word ‘staggering.’ It is used only 3 times in the OT and 2 of those are here in Isa 51. Some translations go with ‘reeling.’ Some go with ‘trembling.’ With such few references, it would be hard to nail the semantic range. But the context gives us some idea. The admonition is to ‘wake’ and ‘stand up.’ We no doubt can get the picture of a drunk. What does this have to do with anything? The picture, to me, is of the drunk with no one to help them. No one to pick them up. No ‘designated,’ if you will. Think of the drunk left to themselves- their minds aren’t right, their emotions aren’t right, their bodies aren’t right. Nothing is right.
That is the wrath that is poured out on humanity. Nothing is right. No one has it together. The cup of wrath is poured on Jesus and He becomes ‘not right.’ He becomes sin. He dies. It is impossible to know what all Jesus experienced when the wrath of God was poured on Him. But the idea is one who is totally alone, struck and with no one to help them.
Another way to see it is to see the reversal of our condition upon His raising. We are not alone. Jesus says ‘the Helper’ will come (by which He meant the Holy Spirit). He says He Himself will never forsake us and is with us. He says we will be given ‘the mind of Christ.’ A heart to know and obey Him. In other words, everything put right.
Consider yourself and, even more, those who do not have Christ. Drunks, staggering with no one to help.
No one but Him.