The Third Cup: Redemption

At the time of Jesus, there were strict guidelines that governed the people in preparation for the Passover and the Great or High Sabbath.  The Passover or Seder meal was held the evening at the beginning of the Great Sabbath.  Because Jesus apparently ate the meal on the eve of the Day of Preparation, it could not have been a full Passover ritual meal.  There are several reasons for this, but a few stand out.

First, it is clear from the scriptures that this meal with His disciples was on the eve or at the beginning of the Preparation Day, not on the eve of the Passover Sabbath.  We know from the details of the crucifixion accounts that Jesus died around 3 PM near the end of the Preparation Day. 

Second, the lamb which is the central food of the ritual meal had to be killed between 3 and 5 PM on the preparation day, at the temple, and with the help of the priests.  In this ritual the lambs were killed, and their blood taken and applied to the posts and lintel of the door where the meal was to be eaten.  This was critical on the first Passover, for the only salvation from death angel was the blood applied to the posts and cross piece. This is a clear foreshadowing of the bloody death of Jesus on the cross. 

It is important to note that Jesus died just after 3 PM on the Preparation Day, the exact time specified for the killing of the Passover lambs used for the traditional meal. The Lamb of God who by His sacrifice takes away the sins of the world, died at the same time as the other sacrificial lambs of the Passover that year.

It appears that Jesus and His disciples ate a Passover-like meal at the last opportunity they had together prior to Jesus’ crucifixion.  Jesus would already be dead at the designated time of the Passover meal.  Jesus told his followers, ““I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer;for I tell you, I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God…” The term Luke uses for “eagerly desired” means literally a “desire that will not be fulfilled.”  Jesus goes on to say that He will not eat the full meal until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.

Still, the meal had some elements of the traditional Passover meal, including the cups of wine.  There are four cups of wine in the Hebrew Passover meal.  The four cups are in remembrance of the four promises made by God to His chosen people in Exodus 6:6-7:Say therefore to the Israelites, ‘I am the Lord, and I will free you from the burdens of the Egyptians and deliver you from slavery to them. I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my people, and I will be your God. You shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has freed you from the burdens of the Egyptians.” 

The first cup is the “Cup of Sanctification” – ‘I am the Lord, and I will free you from the burdens of the Egyptians.” When the Hebrews were taken out of Egypt, they were sanctified, or set apart from other people. In biblical typology, Egypt represents the world and worldly influences. The children of Israel were delivered out of bondage to worldliness and were set apart as a people for God’s own possession.  God’s chosen people are set apart from all others and are to live free from worldliness.

The second cup is the “Cup of Deliverance” – “And deliver you from slavery to them.” To the Hebrews, this meant that they were no longer under the yoke of Egyptian tyranny.  In the broader sense, the deliverance from bondage represents deliverance for all oppression – sin, selfishness, self-directed living, and worldliness.  Our God’s desire for His followers is to be free of these bondages.

The third cup is the “Cup of Redemption” – I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment.”  What the Jewish Passover celebrated was the redemption by the ten plagues, the parting of the sea and the drowning of Pharaoh’s army after them. Certainly, this is what was meant by the words “outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment.” With great power the people were redeemed, and with the blood of the lamb the people were saved from the plague of death.

The Cup of Redemption, a redemption costly beyond comprehension. The only way for us to be redeemed, to be freed or delivered from sin is by the blood of the spotless and sinless Lamb of God.  Like the thousands of Passover lambs that were being slaughtered on this and on every Preparation Day, the Lamb of God would have to die.  And how brutal would be His death.  How lonely would be His final hours as He took on the sins of the world, which separated Him from His Heavenly Father.   What an unthinkable burden for the sinless, spotless Lamb of God to take upon Himself.  He who knew no sin became sin on our behalf.  This would be an unimaginable transaction, filled with grief and pain beyond any human comprehension.

Here is Jesus, the eternal God who by His nature cannot die. He is voluntarily choosing death over life. Sin and death, totally outside the realm of experience for the Godhead, are chosen by Christ Jesus so that He might be the perfect sacrifice of atonement and deliverance.  Jesus at this meal knew what was to come.  He knew how great the burden of sin would be before death took Him. Furthermore, He knew how great the burden of death would be as the eternal Son. 

Later, in the anguish of anticipating this crisis, Jesus prays, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.”  What cup is He praying about?  The Cup of Redemption that He must soon fulfill.  Though He prays this, He knows it is not His Father’s will to let it pass from Him, so He submits to the will of His Father in this prayer. 

Yet one cup was not drunk that night. Likewise, the terrible death of our Savior is not all of the story of our redemption.

One thought on “The Third Cup: Redemption

  1. The greatest cup He drank to the full – was the cup of our guilt – shame – with all the dregs of fallen human nature. Blessed be His Holy Name!

    He also has a cup for us to drink – if we would become His disciples…

    “And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink ye all of it”
    Matthew 26:27

    Blessings brother…


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