December 16, 2013
From the desk of Dr. A.J. Higgins
The Cup and the Father
“The Cup which the Father hath given Me; shall I not drink it?”
Each Gospel record, in a unique manner, follows the events of Gethsemane up to the point of the apprehension of the Lord Jesus by His enemies. Each writer emphasizes a different expression by the Lord Jesus. In Matthew, He says, “But all this was done that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” (Matthew 26:56).The fulfilling of O.T. prophecies is central to Matthew’s theme.
In Mark, it is slightly different. “But the Scriptures must be fulfilled.” (Mark 14:49) As the Servant of Jehovah, He must fulfill all the Word of God. Luke stresses, again, a different truth: “But this is your hour and the power of darkness.” (Luke 22:53). In keeping with his Gospel account, Luke is telling us of the Perfect Man being tested in the extreme yet displaying every grace and beauty that God ever sought in a man.
But John does not refer to the prophets or the Scriptures or the power of men and darkness. For John, Calvary is something of importance between the Father and the Son. “The cup which the Father hath given Me. Shall I not drink it?”
One of the amazing things about Scripture, and a sign of its infinite depth, is how often you can read a Scripture and not notice what is so obvious and on the surface. Where in Scripture, prior to this, do you read of a father and son and a cup? Two millennia earlier, the cup was found in the sack of a son who was beloved of his father. In fact, as Judah pleaded for Benjamin, he told the lord of the land (Joseph), “His father loveth him” (Gen 44:20), and again, “his life is bound up in the lad’s life” (v 30). A cup was going to condemn Benjamin and Judah pleaded on the basis of how greatly his father loved Benjamin.
The cup was found in the sack of the only innocent one of the brothers. The innocent would have to remain a slave while the guilty were told to go up to their father. Yet they knew their father’s heart would break at the loss of Benjamin.
At Calvary, the cup was in the hand, not of the only innocent One, but of the only holy One Who ever lived. Was His Father’s heart any less sensitive to the loss of a Son? Was His life any less bound up in the life of His Son? How great, in fact, how infinite must have been the grief and sorrow of the Father’s heart when His Son took the cup and endured the cross!
This foreshadowing involving a father, son, and a cup, was given to enhance and enlighten us as to what would happen centuries later in a garden in Jerusalem, involving another Father, Son, and cup.
1. In Genesis 18:12, John records that they bound Jesus in the garden. Only John records the binding at this point in time. Can you think of another scene (in Genesis) of a Father and a bound Son?
2. John does not record the agony and prayer in the garden. How does the statement of the Lord Jesus concerning the cup contrast with that made by the Synoptic writers?