Am I not to drink the cup the Father has given Me?
As the sun rose on Thursday morning of Holy Week Christ awoke from what would be His last night’s rest. Thursday was a day of “lasts”: His last entrance into Jerusalem, His last Passover, His Last Supper, His last journey to Gethsemane, and His last teaching before the cross. In some ways we see that Christ’s circumstances in ministry remained as unchanged as when He began – the disciples still quarreling over who is the greatest, Judas still not believing, His confidants still sleeping instead of praying, and, unquestionably the greatest unchanged factor, Christ still completely committed to His mission. The inspired author of Hebrews wrote, “Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8), and the actions of Jesus in this last day of ministry reveal that to be the case. He is as patient and committed at the end as He was at the beginning.
Why does He not stop just long enough to really rebuke the immaturity of the disciples? When they argue about who is the greatest, why doesn’t He just shout, “I am! Now be quiet!” But that is not His heart, and instead He takes off His outer clothes, takes the form of a servant and washes their feet. It was the gentle rebuke of love that breaks stubborn bones. The meltdown of Moses, who exploded in anger at the constant immaturity of the people and struck the rock with his staff, is not repeated with Christ. With a gentle firmness He touches every failure around Him: the disciple’s boasting, the slowness of their faith, even the betrayal of Judas, as well as the denial of Peter. The cup the Father gave Him to drink was not merely sipped from, but consumed to the dregs.
No doubt Christ knew things that the others did not. He knew that the sacrifice he was about to make would completely satisfy the requirements of Holy God to offer forgiveness to sinners like you and me. He knew that the resurrection lay ahead. He knew that the Holy Spirit would descend upon the church to baptize believers with His presence and power, to seal and indwell, to lead and guide, to transform and flood hearts with His love. He knew that all would not end at the moment of the cross, but that did not remove the pain of the physical torments or the greater pain of the spiritual torments, when He who knew no sin became sin for us.
As the sun set and the night darkened and the time of His ministry slipped away He prayed. The last moments before arrest were spent in the company of disciples, in an example of servanthood, in teaching them about the Holy Spirit, and in prayer. No frantic hurrying to make sure all things were done. They were. He ends His public ministry as he began it: on His knees praying for His disciples. In this setting He uttered these words to his disciples.
I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have overcome the world.
We have His peace as our gift from our Savior. He has overcome the world and the events that were about to unfold would accomplish our salvation, would purchase our victory, and would commend the love of God to us.
He prayed to the Father asking that we might be sanctified by his truth, that we might be united in our hearts with one another, and that we might see His glory revealed in our hearts.
I have made Your name known to them and will make it known, so the love You have loved Me with may be in them and I may be in them.
And there the day with the disciples ends, the last day spent on earth as their Teacher, the soldiers are coming to Olivet and the rustling of armor can be heard. The disciples are confused, angry, fearful, and caught off guard. But the Lord as calm as when He faced the crowds at Nazareth who wished to stone Him, as at peace as when He calmed the waters of Galilee, as great as when His humanity was pealed back and His true deity was revealed before three disciples, now is as silent as a sheep before the shearers, a kiss from the betraying disciple the last gentle touch He receives from humanity…
Lord, we are amazed at Your steadfastness in purpose, of your commitment to Your mission to bring us salvation, and of Your gentleness and strength. We bow before You, doubtful of our own ability to be faithful, but believing that You can place Your peace, Your truth, and Your love in our hearts. Do so even now, Lord. Amen.