“My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.”Matt.26:42
In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” A little later, at His arrest, He said to Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” (Matthew 26:39, NIV; John 18:11, NIV). The cup was very much on Jesus’ mind that night.
What was in the cup? We generally associate it with His crucifixion. We assume that when He prayed that the cup might be taken away, He was asking to be spared from that horrible and demeaning death on the cross. There’s truth in that assumption, and certainly the cup was connected with the crucifixion. But still—what was in it?
In both Old and New Testament, the cup of God is a reference to His judgment. For example, in Psalm 75:8 we read, “In the hand of the Lord is a cup full of foaming wine mixed with spices; he pours it out, and all the wicked of the earth drink it down to its very dregs” (NIV).
Jeremiah 25:15 is even more specific: “Take from my hand this cup of the wine of my wrath and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it.” And Revelation 14:10, looking out into the future, speaks of the ungodly who “will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger.”
So, we see that the cup is a metaphorical expression referring to the judgment of God as expressed in the pouring out of His wrath on sinful nations and people.
What was in the cup Jesus drank at His crucifixion? It was the wrath of God.