Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Take this cup from me...

Chapter One of ‘Passion’ takes us to the Mount of Olives.  The paschal moon spotlights the scene.  The lonely figure of Jesus writhes prostrate on the ground, uttering earnestly over and over just one prayer…

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)

Luke fills in the details that highlight for us Jesus’ anguish at this moment… “his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” (Luke 22: 44)

What I have enjoyed so much about reading this book is how McKinley surprises me.  He takes a very familiar scene from Jesus’ last day and then leads me devotionally on a less travelled route.

This chapter is no exception.  McKinley takes us, his readers on an unusual path.  He asks us, how would we respond to this moment of agony if it were a good friend of ours. 

I would like to think that I would drop everything, forget my schedule and run to my friend.  I’d want to know what was wrong.  I’d want to take time to listen to them, to understand my friend’s suffering. (p.13) 

He then asks us to respond to Jesus’ moment of agony in the same way… drop everything, forget other thoughts and listen to Jesus.

And it’s a rich ‘listen’ as McKinley takes us to the Old Testament to understand what Jesus fears so much about ‘this cup’ – the cup of God’s perfect and holy hatred for sin.  The awful cup Jesus will drain to the dregs for us.

Can you imagine what it was like for Jesus to endure the cross? If just a taste, just the anticipation of that wrath, was enough to make Jesus fall to the ground and sweat drops like blood, how much worse was his actual experience at His crucifixion the next day? Why did He do it?  So that we would never need to face any of it, ever. (p.20)

McKinley also rewinds the story to the Garden of Eden and Adam.  By contrasting Adam and Jesus, he fleshes out further the idea of Jesus as our representative.

It’s just the opposite of what Adam did.  Adam said to God: “My will not yours!”  But Jesus said: “Even though it will cost me everything, let your will be done, not mine.”  Jesus is doing what Adam did not do.  He is doing what we do not do.  He is our representative, obeying as we should obey and enduring what we should endure. (p. 21)

At the end of every chapter, McKinley poses a few reflection questions to helpfully direct our responses – since this is his stated aim, ‘How Christ’s final day transforms your every day’.

So, where did my journey end?  I was reminded again about God’s purity, his absolute hatred of all sin.  And I wondered whether I really understood this still since I so easily tolerate ‘small sins’ in my own life… when even inconvenience turns me from the path of obedience.  And once again I stand amazed by God’s unshakeable love for me a sinner, so wonderfully made known to me in Jesus.

In the words of Tim Challies,

Fear! Fear, as Jesus did, the One who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Turn! Turn to Him who drank the cup of wrath that was meant for you.

Rejoice! Be thankful that Christ drank the cup to the bottom. Be thankful, knowing that all of eternity would not be enough time for you to drink that cup. Look beyond the nails, beyond the blood, to the cup of wrath that was poured out upon Him. Look beyond the priests and beyond the soldiers to see God Himself sacrificing His very own Son's life.

Rest! Rest in Him and in His infinite, complete, awesome love. Rejoice that your cup is empty, consumed in the greatest act of love the world could ever know.

Here is a video by Dan Stevers – The Fifth Cup.
I was particularly struck by the second half.

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