Symbols have been powerful means of communication throughout the ages.
In the United States, for example, the American Flag symbolizes the original 13 colonies, all 50 states, as well as freedom, patriotism, and liberty. Symbols in a similar manner identify a sports team. A political party. Or even a fast-food restaurant.
In the Bible, there are symbols that speak to us in a unique way. Especially regarding Jesus. He is symbolized as “The lamb of God.” “The Prince of Peace.” “The Good Shepherd.”
Today as we assemble for worship and come to communion, three symbols come to mind.
Jesus spoke of a cup He was going to drink (Matt. 20:28). In Gethsemane’s garden, He fervently prayed, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done” (Lk. 22:42).
The cup, of course, was not literal. He was not speaking of an outward vessel, but metaphorically of its contents. It was the symbol of something significant. Serious. And severe.
What was the cup He drank? Physical suffering? Emotional agony? Mental anguish?
F. W. Farrar says it was something “deadlier than death.” It was “the burden and the mystery of the world’s sin which lay heavy on his heart.”
Jesus prayed that He would not have to drink that cup, but “your will be done.” This was not the tone of a helpless man, battered into submission. But the spirit of obedience, the attitude of acceptance, and the perfect trust of One acknowledging His eternal destiny and surrendering to the Father’s will.
Think about that when you “drink the cup” this morning. When He instituted the Supper, “He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matt 26:27-28).
When we “drink the cup” we not only remember Him, and His shed blood, but we see our own sinfulness. We drink with thankfulness for the blessing of pardon, redemption, and salvation. And we silently say, just as Jesus prayed, “Your will be done.”
“The cup” is a powerful symbol that reminds us of God’s grace. Jesus’ love. And our faithful surrender to His will for our lives.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman
Next week we will explore the 2nd symbol we see at communion.