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The Cup

In the lead up to Easter, I have been reflecting on Jesus' anguished prayer in Gethsemane the night before his death.

Mark's gospel describes the event below:

They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”

Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (Mark 14:32-26)

I find these verses both grievous and glorious.

They are grievous. Faced with the cross, our Lord was "overwhelmed with sorrow". He was "deeply distressed and troubled", to the point where he asked his Father (three times) that "the hour might pass from him". Jesus knew that he would soon be betrayed into the hands of the Jewish leaders. He knew that he would soon be mocked, whipped, deserted, humiliated and ultimately, crucified. But worse than this, he knew that he would drink the full "cup" of his father's righteous anger - the just punishment for sin - despite being innocent. God the Father and God the Son, who had been in perfect unity for eternity, would be separated at the cross. What a great and terrible thing. What must Jesus have suffered? How terrible must my sin be?

They are glorious. Despite the horrors he would face, our Lord went to the cross willingly. He was obedient to the point of death. Faced with the cross, Jesus could still pray to his Father: "yet not what I will, but what you will". This is remarkable. That our God took the penalty for sin upon himself - how much must he love us? How great is our God!