by Jonathan McLeod

The Cup
Jonathan McLeod
Matthew 26:36-46

Read Matt. 26:36-46

(This sermon is based on chapter 3, ''Looking Below the Surface,'' in The Cross of Christ by John Stott.)


''My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will'' (Matt. 26:39).

In Gethsemane, Jesus was ''sorrowful and troubled'' (v. 37). Luke writes, ''And begin in an agony he prayed more earnestly; his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground'' (Luke 22:44). ''Though the word 'like' may indicate that this is to be understood metaphorically, there are both ancient and modern accounts on record of people sweating blood-a condition known as hematidrosis, where extreme anguish or physical strain causes one's capillary blood vessels to dilate and burst, mixing sweat and blood'' (ESV Study Bible, p. 2007). On another occasion, Jesus said, ''Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? But for this purpose I have come to this hour'' (John 12:27).

What was the ''cup'' that He dreaded to drink?

The ''cup'' was not PHYSICAL suffering.

There are two reasons why the cup Jesus dreaded was not physical suffering. First, if the cup meant physical suffering then Jesus would have been guilty of not practicing what He preached. He once told His followers that when insulted, persecuted, and slandered, they were to ''rejoice and be glad'' (Matt. 5:11-12).

Second, if the cup meant physical suffering then Jesus would have been outdone by His followers. The apostles, leaving the Sanhedrin with backs bleeding from a merciless flogging, were actually ''rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffering dishonor for the name'' (Acts 5:41). In the postapostolic period there was even a longing to suffer martyrdom. In the middle of the second century, Polycarp, the eighty-six-year-old bishop of Smyrna, having refused to escape death either by fleeing or b ...

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