We are continuing our meditation of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Just a few hours before His crucifixion, Christ said something very intriguing:
Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will" (Matthew 26:39).
It is believed that Jesus was speaking of the cup of wrath given to Him to drink by the Father. A cup of wrath deserved by all of us for our sins. Isaiah the prophet spoke about such a cup that had to be drunk by the citizens of Jerusalem just after her destruction:
Awake, awake! Rise up, O Jerusalem, you who have drunk from the hand of the LORD the cup of his wrath,you who have drained to its dregs the goblet that makes men stagger (Isaiah 51:17; also read Jeremiah 25:15-17).
We deserved spiritual death because of the sins and choices that we have made in our lives. In the Garden of Eden, God warned Adam that if he ate of the fruit on the tree of knowledge of good and evil, he would surely die. Adam did not die physically the day he ate, but spiritually he and everyone else born into the world was separated from God, and a barrier between God and man existed (Isaiah 59:2), a state of death in the eyes of God. The prophet Ezekiel prophesied about this punishment on sin, when he said, "The soul who sins is the one who will die" (Ezekiel 18:4, 20). Sin had to be judged, or God would be accused of injustice. The punishment of sin must be maintained; God cannot just overlook sin and injustice. For God to be love and just, the God of love came to pay the punishment so that we could be free from the penalty of sin. Matthew tells us of the one prayer that the Father denied Jesus, "if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me" (Matthew 26:39). Christ had to endure the full punishment of separation from God on the cross, “Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lemasabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”)(Matthew 27:46).
This God that we love and serve has made no other way of escape other than that His Beloved Son should go through this time of humiliation, pulling at His beard, spitting in His face, and flaying the skin off of His back, culminating in the torturous death of being crucified. There was no other way, no other solution. He didn't tell humankind to wait until Mohammed. He didn't change His salvation plan and tell humanity to go and see the Buddha. There was only ONE WAY, and it involved God Himself becoming the substitute. Here we see the love of God revealed. God planned Operation Redemption. He would pay the substitution ransom, the sacrificial price. The price is free for us, but it cost God His Son. He would take the place of all humanity. The judgment upon us was firm and just, the soul that sins shall die, but Jesus, God's Son took our place, the just for the unjust to bring us to God.
For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit (1 Peter 3:18).
The love of God said “no” to Jesus. It was not possible for there to be any other way but that He should take the cup and drink God’s wrath on sin to the dregs.
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
When we truly understand all that God has done for us, the only response is love for the One who has made our freedom and deliverance from sin possible. Self-sacrifice is the "God way." The way of the cross is the only way to God. Keith Thomas.
Taken from study 60 in Luke: Jesus at Gethsemane.