The Cup

Bible Book: Luke  22 : 17-20
Subject: Communion; Lord's Supper; Communion; Palm Sunday

“Forgiveness is man's greatest need and highest achievement," said Horace Bushnell.  He was certainly correct, for sin is man's greatest problem and the removal of it is of eternal consequence.

As far as we know God only wrote with his own hand three times, and His handwriting reveals three important issues related to human beings:

i. Commandments

First, in Exodus 20, we find the Commandments written by God’s own hand. There he told us what we are to do and what we are not to do. The Commandments were to guide God's people and eventually to drive them to the Savior. After all, anyone attempting to keep all the Commandments learns quickly that perfection is impossible.

ii. Condemnation

Then in Daniel 5 we find the writing on the wall by the hand of God, which can best be described as God’s condemnation upon sin already committed. Belshazer was weighted and found wanting on the scales of God, which is not just the case with one person but we all of us – for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. As the Commandments show us God's will, our own habits and practices reeal that we are condemned. Without God's help, the handwriting is on the wall for everyone.

iii. Compassion and Cleansing

Third, we see Christ writing on the ground in John's gospel. We do not know what he wrote but we do know that he spoke a word of forgiveness and cleansing toward the woman taken in adultery. It is likely whatever He wrote on the ground surrounded the issue of her sin and perhaps the sins of those who brought her to Him. In the end, the accusers walked away and left their stones behind. What Jesus wrote in the sand was compelling, to say the least, and must have contained a message of grace, love, and forgiveness.

Note, then, that we have Commandments, Condemnation and Cleansing (Compassion) from the very hand of God. Without the latter the former becomes the matter, for we have all broken the Commandments and all stand condemned unless we have been cleansed.

That brings us to the thought of forgiveness today, which is fitting for us as we come to celebrate The Lord’s Supper on this Sunday morning. Our text is Luke 22:17:

“And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves…”

Here we see Jesus offering a cup to his disciples, a cup which carried with it three messages for them and for all of us. Let us begin with the first and continue to the last.

I. The Cup FOR ME

It is evident that Jesus took a cup and drank from it, and not just a cup in the Upper Room that night. We know this because of what happened later. In the Garden of Gethsemane with His disciples we read (Matthew 26:39), “He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, 'O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.'” The cup Jesus gazed into and drank from was one that you and I were supposed to drink. Note the meaning behind the cup Jesus prayer about in Matthew 26.

A. The Wrath in the Cup

Jesus knew he had a terrible cup before him, which was the cup of our sins and the punishment they demanded.

In Matthew 20:22 Jesus was approached by James and John who wanted seats of authority in the kingdom to come. Jesus asked them if they were able to drink the cup that He was going to drink. One thing apparent in the question Jesus posed to the two disciples is that the cup was going to be a difficult and horrible one. What exactly was Jesus speaking of when he mentioned the cup He was to drink?

Look at Psalm 75:8 - All the wicked must drink from the cup of God's wrath.

Note Isaiah 51:17 - Judgment upon Jerusalem due to her sins.

See Jeremiah 25:15-17, 27-29 - A cup to the nations, a cup of wrath.

Again, read Ezekiel 23:31-34 - Northern and Southern kingdoms to drink a cup of wrath.

Thus we know that the cup which Jesus prayed about in the Garden and the cup he spoke of to James and John was the cup of God's wrath and indignation against sin. It was a dark, dirty and deadly cup of which Jesus spoke and about which He prayed. Sin is a poison and Jesus was ready to drink it for us and give us in its place the cup of His grace.

Note also…

B. The Willingness of Christ

Jesus prayed, "Take this cup from me, yet not my will, but yours be done."

Some think that the reason Jesus was praying in the Garden was for God to keep Him from death until He reached the cross where He would die for our sins. Furthermore, His prayer may have contained a repulsion toward the awful contents of the cup – the sins of all the world! The point is, Jesus was willing to take that cup for us, so that those of us who received Him as Lord and Savior could avoid facing the judgment and wrath of God upon our sins.

In John 8:11 we note that Peter pulled a sword upon Malchus, one of soldiers who came into the Garden of Gethsemane to arrest Jesus. Malchus was a servant of the High Priest sent to make sure Jesus was arrested. Note what Jesus said to Peter, "Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?" Jesus willingly took the cup for each of us.

Now, let us consider…

II. The Cup TO ME

After Jesus drank the dreadful cup to the dregs, He then cleansed it, poured in it His pure blood and offered it to the world. He actually carried out a symbolic service involving this with his disciples during the Last Supper. Why did He do that with His disciples in the Upper Room? It represented ...

A. Forgiveness through Jesus

All the world stands guilty before God. In the book “Emotions, Can You Trust Them,” James Dobson tells of little children trying to describe their conscience. One little girl said that the conscience was something that burned inside when you did something you should not do. One little boy said that he did not know what the conscience is but he thought it had something to do with kicking girls and little dogs. Actually, whether we are conscious of it or not, the whole world stands guilty before God and the Spirit of God seeks to inform us with feelings and emotions of guilt.

Some people experience guilt due to a sin that they are very sensitive about it. A woman got her husband to go to church but on that Sunday the preacher spoke about drinking. The man said he would never go back because the preacher was preaching against him. His wife prevailed upon so he returned for at least one more Sunday. The preacher spoke that Sunday about gambling. The man was guilty and swore that the preacher was picking on him specifically. Finally, the wife came up with a way to prove to her husband that the preacher was not pointing him out. She put him in the broom closet just off to the side of the sanctuary. In the middle of the sermon some kids were cutting-up in the service. The preacher stopped and said, "If you kids don't stop talking I'm going to get the devil after you, and don't think I can't. I've got him right over here in the broom closet."

Actually, we are all guilty of sin and we all need forgiveness. Jesus offers it through his shed blood.

B. Fellowship with Jesus

His blood puts us in unique fellowship with God. In Revelation 3:20 we a read, ““Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” We see here that Jesus is calling to us individually. He says, “If any person!” Let me explain what that means in Greek. It means, “Any Person!” That includes you and the person next to you! Jesus promises that all who respond to Him, by faith, will have true fellowship with Him. Amazing! God desires fellowship with you and with me. That is simply a sign of His love and grace expressed through the cup of sin which Jesus drank for us when He died on the cross.

Also, notice…

C. Faithfulness from Jesus

The Lord offers a covenant – a promise – to all who repent and receive Him asLLord and Savior. Note how Jesus is faithful to His own. He was faithful to Peter, as described in Luke 22:31. He will be faithful to you. God keeps His word.

D. Future with Jesus

He drank the cup of judgment for us so that we might drink the cup of joy in this life and an even greater joy with Him in heaven one day. Note that He told His disciples, according to Paul’s own words, that He is planning to celebrate a meal with us in heaven. The cup he offered His disciples in the Upper Room was a foreshadowing of the cup we will drink with Him one day in glory.

What a day that will be!

No religious book on earth offers total forgiveness of sin – no book but the Bible! That is because only Jesus shed his blood for our sins, and only his blood can cleanse sin from our lives.


Jesus told his disciples to "divide" the cup among themselves. There is in the cup of forgiveness a necessity. We are to forgive each other.

A. God's Expectation Demands It

Read Matthew 6:14-15, "For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Farther will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins, you Father will not forgive your sins."

Look at Ephesians 4:32 "Be king and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."

You see clearly that God expects us to forgive because we have been forgiven. Are you carrying a grudge in your hear today? Is there a wrong committed against you that you have not forgiven? Remember what the Lord has done for you. Christ gave us the cup and expects the cup to work through us so that we forgive others.

B. My Experience Demands It

Since I am forgiven, I must forgive! You see, the cup Jesus took for us was a cup filled with our sins and the wrath of God upon our sins. But, Jesus drank all of the wrath in our place. Yet, he filled with cup with His love – symbolized by His blood – and gave it to us to drink. It is life, joy, peace and eternal life! But, also, He asks us to pass the cup along. Even as we take part in the Lord’s Supper, on almost all occasions, we pass the elements to each other. We take and we share. I hope you see the meaning here. We take from Christ the grace and forgiveness in His body and blood, symbolized by the bread and cup, and we are to offer forgiveness and grace to others as well.


For those who have never trusted Christ, Jesus offers you redemption today through His sacrifice for your sin. He drank the cup for you.

A man was dying and his friend visited him almost daily. Each day the friend would ask the dying man, "Is there anything I can do for you?" Is there anything I can do? Is there anything I can do? As the sick man neared death, he finally answered the question. When his friend asked, "Is there anything I can do?" he replied, "I do not need something done for me, I need someone to undo some things for me! Do you know anyone who can undo some things for me?"

Let me tell you today, there is One who can undo some things for you. His name is Jesus. Jesus is the great un-doer of our sins and their penalty. If your sins have not been forgiven, you are still under wrath. John wrote about the love of God in 1 John 4:8, and he told us that God is love. But the same writer told us in John 3:36 that the wrath of God is upon the lost. But, you don’t have to stay there. Jesus is offering a cup to you today - take it now for forgiveness or take later for judgment. You see, the wrath of God is upon ALL sin. You can know Christ and have the forgiveness that comes from the cup he drank for you, or you can wait and drink the cup of wrath on your own sins one day at the judgment.

The choice is yours!

Now, dear Christian, you who have already accepted Jesus and His sacrifice for your sin, do you need to respond today in recommitment of your life to Christ before you receive the Lord’s Supper today?

All who hear His voice, come to Him just now as we sing the invitation. He is calling – let us respond.