Qasgiq File #293: The Cup

by Tad Lindley

I was fairly new in the land of the Yup’ik people, and I didn’t want to be a bad guest, but my body was covered with sweat and I was thirsty. “You can use that cup right behind you,” the captain of the qasgiq told me.

I looked in the corner, and there was a dixie cup that was more or less embedded in a cast off pair of men’s underwear that looked to have high mileage on them. (To this day, I’m still trying to mentally grasp how the cup came to be enfolded in worn out cotton briefs.) Now I am the kind of person who likes to avoid confrontation, so instead of asking what my other options were for satisfying my thirst (he had no dipper to drink from), I kept quiet, but I told myself, “No way am I putting my mouth on that cup.”

We steamed some more, and this time I came out even thirstier than before. I felt myself weakening, but I looked at that cup and I told myself, “No way! That cup is gross.”

When I came out again, I couldn’t even sweat anymore. It felt like every cell in my body was crying out for water. I watched my arm begin to move toward the cup like this was a normal thing. I tried to just barely touch the rim of it. I dipped it in the bucket of rainwater, and then slowly moved it toward my lips. I tried to stick my lips as far away from my face as possible and with them then touch as little of the rim. As gross as the thought of the cup was, the rainwater was a sweet relief to my thirsty body.

This cup is too gross

In one of the most private moments of Jesus’ life, we find him praying in the garden of Gethsemane. And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, “O my Father, if it be possible let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” (Matthew 26:39) Within minutes, the Jerusalem Troopers would come onto the scene and take Jesus away in handcuffs. He would put his mouth on the cup and begin to drink.

What cup was he talking about?

In Hebrews 2:9, we read, But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. The cup that Jesus chose to drink from was not just gross on the outside, it was gross on the inside. We get a picture of a similar cup in the Revelation: And the woman…having a golden cup in her hand that was full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication. (17:4)

As human beings, we routinely drink in a lifestyle of things that are gross to God. Think of it this way, a dog will easily slurp up the grossest rotten soup, and be ready for more. You can feed a dog seal oil that’s almost blood red and it will be ready for seconds. Not one of us in our right mind would eat either of those, let alone lap it up from a dog’s dish, but that’s kind of what Jesus did.

Put yourself in Jesus sandals

Now put yourself in Jesus’ sandals. He was God in human form (I Timothy 3:16, Colossians 2:9). He is God undercover. As God, the things that humans partake in, pride, drunkenness, gluttony, sexual activities that are inconsistent with the Bible, lying, stealing, murder, envy, witchcraft, rebellion, etc., are disgusting to him. He can no more want to be involved with sin than you or I would like to go out and lick the scum out of a dog’s dish.

Jesus drinks from our cup

As the troopers escorted Jesus out of the garden, he would be raising the cup to his lips. In the next hours men would spit their saliva in his face, they would beat him and mock him, they would put a crown of thorns on his head, they would yank his beard hairs out of his face, and whip him until the cords cut through his back muscles down to the rib bones, and after that they would drive spikes through his hands and his feet and hoist his naked pitiful body up between two dying thieves. And that was just the outside of the cup. You see on the inside, although he himself was sinless, he would be made sin. Between his arrest and his resurrection three days later, he would taste the stinking, filthy sin of humanity: He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (II Corinthians 5:21) Apparently as Jesus struggled to hang on to life on the cross, he experienced all the shame, failure, and humiliation that we experience from sin, until he felt what it is to be completely and utterly cut off from God. It is then that he cried out, My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me? (Matthew 27:46)

So that we could drink from his cup

Now compare the cup of our sin that Jesus drank from with a different cup. We read about a cup that Jesus shared with the disciples at what is commonly called, “The Last Supper.” And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” (Matthew 26:27-28) Jesus drank from the cup of our shame and sin, so that we could drink from the cup of his mercy and righteousness. If you are presently hurting from the emptiness of sin, it is time to turn to Jesus. He already drank from your cup, will you drink from his.

Reverend Tad Lindley is a minister at the United Pentecostal Church in Bethel, Alaska.

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