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AM I ABLE TO DRINK HIS CUP?
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
27 MARCH 1988
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
Preparation: (Luke 19:39-40)
39. And some of the Pharisees in the multitude said to Him. “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.”
40. And He answered and said, “I tell you. If these become silent, the stones will cry out!”
The title of today's sermon "Am I Able to Drink His Cup?" is another look
into the depth of God's love toward us. It is a story of deliverance,
redemption, upholding, and eternal life.
Today we will be looking at this subject through the message contained in the celebration of the Passover service, and from a message delivered by Isaiah in verses 10-20 of chapter 1, which we looked at in January.
This message of God delivered by Isaiah applies to the Church today as much as it did to Israel in Isaiah's time.
Let's take another look at these verses:
10. Hear the word of the Lord,
You rulers of Sodom;
Give ear to the instruction of our God,
You people of Gomorrah.
Remember that Sodom and Gomorrah had already been destroyed. Why then is God speaking to their rulers and people? The answer is: He isn't! He is speaking to Israel; for Israel's turning away from God was comparable to the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Sodom was a city of open ungodliness. We would never allow anything like that to happen in the United States, would we?
Nor would we ever turn away from God by taking prayer out of our schools, would we?
And of course, we will always teach proper moral standards so our youth would desire to remain virgins until marriage and would never ever consider taking drugs or getting drunk, right?
God is most assuredly speaking to us today as well! Note the next verses:
11. "What are your multiplied sacrifices to Me?"
Says the Lord.
I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams,
And the fat of fed cattle.
And I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls, lambs, or goats.
12. "When you come to appear before Me,
Who requires of you this trampling of My courts?
13. "Bring your worthless offerings no longer,
Incense is an abomination to Me.
New moon and sabbath, the calling of assemblies–
I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly.
14. "I hate your new moon festivals and your appointed feasts,
They have become a burden to Me.
I am weary of bearing them.
15. "So when you spread out your hands in prayer,
I will hide My eyes from you,
Yes, even though you multiply prayers,
I will not listen.
Your hands are covered with blood.
God is saying, "I don't care about your holidays, your festivals, your sacrifices, your celebrations, or your offerings. I want your obedience."
God is also saying that from the beginning, all He ever wanted was the people's obedience, and that the entire sacrificial system was never desired, and was only given to them as a concession to limit their depravity until they returned wholeheartedly to Him.
And instead of doing this, they made a mockery of it.
We also should very seriously consider whether or not the names of Lent, Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Easter should be added to the list of the celebrations mentioned by Isaiah.
To paraphrase God's words in another way: If we act self-willed, God just won't hear us.
Let's look a little further:
16. "Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean;
Remove the evil of your deeds from My sight.
Cease to do evil,
17. Learn to do good;
Reprove the ruthless;
Defend the orphan,
Plead for the widow.
18. "Come now, and let us reason together,"
Says the Lord,
"Though your sins are as scarlet,
They will be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They will be like wool.
19. "If you consent and obey,
You will eat the best of the land;
He says in all His love, "Come let us reason together."
Will God hear us then? Perhaps!
If we truly want God to hear us, we must be washed clean. How? Only one way; for all the soap and water in the world won't wash away our sins. If we want to be washed clean, the only way is to be washed in the blood of Christ.
How do we get this washing? It really is simple. All we have to do is recognize Jesus Christ for who He is, and be truly repentant.
God is a God of grace. He has given us a way out. And because He loves us, He has made that way relatively easy. All we have to do is accept Him and believe in Him; but if we don't, we will be rejected. Note verse 20:
20. "But if you refuse and rebel,
You will be devoured by the sword."
Truly, the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
God gave us our Communion service as a constant reminder of what our
relationship with God should be like.
Understanding a little more about the Communion service should shed a little more light on the subject and lead us to the same answer.
The Lord Jesus Himself told us this answer in the way He presented this celebration, as we shall see.
Communion is not a strictly Christian celebration, but an adaptation of a Hebrew ceremony set apart by the Lord Himself.
In light of this, I would like each of you to put on your spiritual hats and journey with me back to the year 27, to the Thursday before Passover.
We're outside Jerusalem, and we hear our Lord Jesus Christ say to Peter and John, "Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it." (Luke 22:7-20) They leave, following the Lord's instructions, and make the preparations in a large upper room of a house in the city.
As we enter this room later in the day, just prior to sundown, we see a long table arranged with seating for fourteen people. There is one seat at each end and six on each side. One of the end seats is reserved for Elijah, the prophet; for the Jew expects him to come and proclaim the day of the Lord.
The Lord and His twelve disciples take their seats.
On the table, among the other prepared food, is unleavened bread. Scripturally, leaven represents sin and cannot be present during this entire holiday period. (Exodus 12:1-20)
But based upon Jesus' teachings and the things that He says, it is extremely doubtful that there was any lamb sacrificed for this meal, and thus there was no lamb on the table.
He was presenting Himself as the Sacrificial Lamb.
The leader of the service then picks up three unbroken pieces of this unleavened bread and places them in a special linen pouch, or one made of folded napkins.
This pouch is made with three compartments: one upper, one middle, and one
lower. One piece of bread is placed into each of these compartments. This pouch
with its three pieces of "sinless" bread is called "Unity." Separated, yet one!
As the service progresses, the leader lifts up this "Unity" pouch, says a prayer, and then removes the middle piece of unleavened bread.
He then breaks this piece into two equal parts. He puts one half back into its middle compartment in "Unity" and places it back on the table. He then wraps the other half in a linen napkin and hides it under a pillow or his chair. This hidden piece is reserved for after the meal; it is the Afikomen, or dessert.
After the meal, we see the Lord reach down and raise up the Afikomen, which is still wrapped in linen, and say, "This is My body, which is given for you."
Then He says a prayer, opens up the linen wrapping, breaks the unleavened bread into enough pieces for everyone, passes it around the table, and says, "Do this in remembrance of Me." He then eats it with all in attendance.
Immediately after this, He takes up His wine cup and says, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood." He says a prayer, and each of them drinks from their own cup, all that it contains.
This is the third cup of the service; it is the cup of sustaining. This cup speaks of His upholding us.
The first cup spoke of the promise of deliverance from sin. The second cup was our redemption from sin. And the fourth is the promise of our abiding with Him forever, for He is sustaining us now until that time – that is if we accept His help.
According to Jewish Law, there is no forgiveness of sin without a blood sacrifice. It is also to be the blood of a perfect "clean" animal. (Exodus 12:3-11)
If there is no sacrifice, there also is no forgiveness of sin and, therefore, death or separation from God. Each time man commits a sin, an innocent animal must die; a substitute soul for a soul, so to speak.
What Jesus is saying here is that this new covenant in His blood will be the perfect sacrifice, once for all time, and thus declaring and end to the sacrificial system.
He is telling us that when we come together in remembrance of Him, we are to confess our sins first, and then eat of the bread of the perfect sacrifice and drink the cup of forgiveness. We cannot take back any of our sin and still retain that forgiveness.
Let's look a little further.
Following the Passover celebration, they went out and the Lord went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray.
And, knowing what lay ahead of Him, He prayed that this cup might pass from Him. (Matthew 26:39)
39. And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as Thou wilt.”
See, traditionally, the Jew always drinks the whole cup of wine at each designated time of the Passover service. They do not just sip a portion of it; they drink the whole cup in order to receive the whole blessing.
Jesus knew that He was either going to have to drink the entire cup or not drink it at all. There was no half way path to paying the debt for us.
Communion should speak to us of this. There is no half way path to salvation. If we are going to be sustained by the Lord, we must also accept the whole cup.
We must accept that forgiveness of sin by confession of it to God. Communion, our dessert, is (or should be) a constant reminder to all of us that we also must take up our cross daily and follow Him.
We no longer require the death of an innocent animal to cover our sins each time we do something wrong.
We have an innocent God who sacrificed Himself, once for all time. There is
no need for any more blood. It has all been shed. All we have to do is accept
And now we must ask ourselves a very important question: "Am I willing and able to eat of His bread and drink of His cup?" If our answer is yes, then tell Him so.