About Jesus   Steve Sweetman

Home Page

Your Cup Of Suffering


Many Christians have their heads buried in the sand of self indulgence and the ways of this world.  They fail to recognize the road signs, warning us of the rough ride ahead.  The disciples of Jesus didn't quite see these road signs either, but unlike us, their heads were buried in the sand of confusion and misunderstanding.  There's no reason for us to be so confused.    


While in the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus was tormented at the sight of one of these road signs.  The dead end sign had just been erected on the road of His earthly life.  Preferring to take a detour, He cried out in agony.  "My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done". (Matthew 26:42)  There was no detour to be found; no side road to circumvent the cup of suffering that was being handed Him.     


Jesus' death was unlike any human death.  He didn't quietly pass away in His sleep.  The physical torture was hard to bare, but He wasn't the only one to have experienced execution on a cross.  It was the excruciating pain of becoming riddled with our sin and sickness that really smothered His soul.  As every fabric of His being was focused towards heaven, His heart was horrified to see His Father's back instead of His face.  He knew "it was finished".  He simply gave up His spirit. (Matthew 27:50)  In other words, it wasn't the Jews, the Romans, or the cross, that took Jesus' human life from Him.  As an act of His will, an offering for sin, He simply released Himself from His human body.      


For the record, the two criminals who were executed with Jesus didn't die because of being hung on the cross either.  Crucifixion was a long painful death by asphyxiation.  The process would often last for days.  The two criminals died when the soldiers broke their legs. (John 19:31-33)  When their legs were broken, they could no longer push up with their feet to breathe.  Their death was immediate.  Jesus' legs weren't broken because He was already dead.  He was nailed to the cross at third hour. ( 9 A M - Mark 15:25)   He died at the ninth hour when He was taken down from the cross by the soldiers. (3 P M - Matthew 27:46)  He was on the cross for 6 hours.      


It was made clear to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane that He must drink from the cup of suffering.  Wondering if His disciples would be willing to drink from this same cup, He asked, "can you drink the cup I drink"?   They confidently, but ignorantly, responded by saying, "we can".  I'm sure it pained Jesus, but He said it anyway.  "You will drink the cup I drink". (Mark 10:38-39)  If the disciples had only known how true these words would become, they would have dropped to the floor in agony, and like Jesus, cried out to drink from a different cup.    


During Passover, Jesus drank from a cup of wine that represented His blood.  He then passed this cup to His disciples and said, "you drink".  More than a symbolic gesture, Jesus was inviting His disciples to not only share a cup of wine, but to share in the cup of His suffering.  The apostle Peter never forgot this.  He would later encourage his readers to rejoice when they suffered, because such suffering was in fact sharing in the sufferings of Christ. (1 Peter 4:13)    


The disciples had little clue how rough the road would become for them and how they would share in this cup.  They would be snared, trapped between the religious establishment and the government of their day, both of whom would offer them their own personalized cup of suffering.


Picture yourself as a disciple of Jesus.  You've just spent the last 3 years following Jesus up and down the dusty roads of Galilee . (present day West Bank , the so-called occupied territories)  There had been warning signs along the way.  On one side was the hypocritical religious establishment.  On the other side, the hostile pagan Roman soldiers.  Within a few short years both of these worlds would push you to the brink.  There'd be no detour around the dead end sign for you.  With no where to turn, you would drink from the cup of suffering. 


Now, come back to the reality of our world.  We're walking on a very similar road.  On one side is an anti-Christ, secular, even pagan, society, who opposes all things Christian.  On the other side is an apostate church that has liberalized the Bible into a lifeless liturgy.  Both worlds are offering us a choice.  Drink from the cup of compromise or else you'll be drinking from the cup of suffering.


Jesus warned us that this anti-Christ world would hate us, persecute us, and even execute some of us. (John 15:18, 17:14, Matthew 24:9)  I'm not promoting a persecution complex.  I'm simply stating Biblical fact. The road signs are being erected all around us.  We can't afford to burry our heads in the sand of self indulgence and the ways of this world.  If we ignore these warning signs or pretend they're not there, we won't be prepared for the dead end sign when it appears on the horizon.  At that point the cup of compromise will be hard to resist, the very cup that many are drinking from right now. 


In light of this, hear the Word of the Lord and take it seriously.  "If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all". (Isaiah 7:9) 



Home Page