I’ve heard the question asked from time to time, mostly by Calvinists, about what was in the cup that Jesus drank?
The answer you’re supposed to give is that He drank the wrath of God.
Here’s how Desiring God, John Piper’s organization, puts it:
The disciples will drink a cup, too — a cup of suffering. But Jesus’s cup of suffering is different from theirs because Jesus’s suffering is under God’s anger. Jesus drinks the cup of God’s wrath, a cup that has accumulated the fury of God against sins of all types. Heinous crimes, adultery, careless words, dishonoring thoughts, lies — all of it will be punished by God. This is the cup Jesus drinks on the cross.
Those Calvinist types who enjoy detailing God’s wrath will go on to say He drank every last drop, the dregs, sucked it dry, and God unleashed anger and wrath on His Son because you are terrible!
This is all nonsense.
Jesus is indeed drinking a cup given to Him by His Father. John 18:11 Jesus says, “Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” In Matthew 20:22 He asks a couple disciples if they can drink the cup He is going to drink. In the Garden He asks if the cup can be taken from Him.
At no point does the Bible explain what was in the cup. Filling in details the Bible never gives is a great way for people to pretend they are giving biblical insight. Because there are no verses that say God was so angry He had to kill Jesus for your sin, they invent stuff out of unrevealed details and pretend they are making a biblical case.
But the Bible talks about cups with God’s wrath in it! Indeed it does. But never once did the cup that Jesus drink ever have wrath attached to it. You won’t find one verse that even hints at it.
Isaiah 51:17; Jeremiah 25:15, and Revelation 14:10; 16:19 all mention God’s wrath in a cup being poured out on people. It’s poured out on unrepentant sinners. We can at least know that Jesus didn’t drink every last drop of God’s wrath then!
This is the problem I have with the Calvinist understanding of the Gospel: They make it all about God’s wrath. The New Testament does not stress God’s wrath in relation to the Gospel; it stresses God’s love.
It is true that the one who comes to the Father through Jesus Christ and His Gospel will escape God’s wrath: John 3:36; Romans 5:9; 1 Thessalonians 1:10. The reason for this is because by faith in what Christ has done for us and what we did with Him, sin is dealt with. True believers are no longer seen as guilty or deserving of God‘s wrath.
The Calvinist will say that’s because Jesus took God’s wrath for you. Again, show me one verse that says that!
Calvinism is philosophical speculation loosely based on a couple phrases in a few verses.
The Calvinist take on the Gospel says God is so angry about sin He has to kill someone. He’d like to kill you, but Jesus loves you for some reason, so God will kill Jesus for loving you.
I mean, really? Why would God pour out wrath on the One person in all humanity who was perfect and died for other less worthy sinners? Greater love has no man than this, to lay down his life for his friends. Why would God be angry about that?
The Gospel is about love. Beware anyone who makes it about wrath and anger.
“This is my Son in whom I am well pleased” said the Father. It makes no sense that God would pour out wrath on His beloved Son. That’s not what happened there.
Jesus drank a cup of suffering. He told His disciples they would drink His cup too (Matthew 20:23), which clearly implies Christ didn’t drink every last drop of God’s wrath if wrath was in the cup! The disciples were some of the few people who actually stuck with Jesus, why would God be angry with them?
He used baptism in the same context, Mark 10:38, “can you be baptized with the same baptism as me?” The baptism and the cup He refers to signify death, not God’s wrath.
Following Christ will lead to suffering. Doing righteousness is frequently not taken well in this world. God does not pour out anger on righteous people. He defends them, preserves them, and He loves them.
Don’t let popular Calvinist speculations destroy your enjoyment of the beautiful loving Gospel of Jesus Christ.