I've been thinking about the words “bitter cup.” (A more detailed version of this post is available here.)
How is the word “cup” used in the scriptures? A search of the KJV for the word yielded 57 references, which I divided into eight categories:
1) ACTUAL CUP – though additional symbolism is (at least sometimes) implied2) SACRAMENTAL CUP
3) CUP OF FURY/TREMBLING/JUDGMENT4) CUP OF THE ATONEMENT/MARTYRDOM/DISCIPLESHIP
5) CUP OF REWARD OR INHERITANCE6) CUP OF SALVATION
7) CUP OF CONSOLATION8 ) CUP OF ABOMINATIONS/INIQUITY
What, if anything, do all of these verses have to with each other? First: that our discipleship is sometimes bitter in the same way (though to a lesser degree) as the Lord’s atonement. Bringing in the verses from Group 2, we see another important point: the sacramental cup is inseparably connected to that bitter cup Jesus hoped to avoid. Nevertheless, trembling, he took the cup and drank it completely. There’s something to be said about quantity and quality here: Groups 3 and 8 talk about God’s wrath and our iniquity reaching a maximum—that’s the “quantity” part. But Group 3 also refers to “the dregs,” which forces us to consider the quality of Christ’s suffering and the full meaning of his words on the cross, “It is finished.”
Lastly, the connection between Jesus’ bitter cup and our sacramental cup is both beautiful and overwhelming. That cup, which for Jesus was the bitterest, made possible the sacramental cup, which for us is the sweetest.