How the Cup of Wrath Becomes a Cup of Joy

There’s an image in Scripture that tells us judgment is passed for believers. The kind of judgment that a judge rules over criminals in court. It's over. You're not guilty, and here's why.

When Scripture speaks about God’s wrath, often it uses the metaphor of a cup of wine. At the bottom, it’s full of dregs. These are the scummy remains of the skins of the grapes. Their most bitter aspect. For instance, Psalm 78:8 uses that metaphor to describe God pouring out his wrath. It says, “for in the hand of the Lord there is a cup with foaming wine, well mixed, and he pours out from it. And all the wicked of the earth shall drain it down to the dregs.” That is, they will experience the absolute, the full measure of the judgment they deserve for their sin. That’s the future of anyone outside of Christ.

Again, you read in the book of Revelation about these Bowl Judgments. Revelation draws its metaphors from the Old Testament. Have Psalm 78 in your mind. God is pouring out this intoxicating… this overwhelming, head-dizzying wrath on the world.

Picture the scene right before Christ’s crucifixion. Jesus is in the Garden of Gethsemane. You may recall, Peter rushes in with a sword to fight off the people who want to take Jesus to his death. And what does Jesus say in John, chapter 18:11? Jesus says, “put your sword back in its sheath. Shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given to me? Shall I not drink the cup?”

Shall I not drink the cup?

See in that cup all the wrath that you deserve for every violation of God’s law that you have ever committed in your whole life. The Father holds the cup out, sloshing because it’s so full. And the Son receives it into his own hands. And he begins to drink. And to drink. And to drink. And the wine is rushing across his cheeks. And you see his throat receiving it down to the dregs. There’s nothing left in the cup!

That’s the whole point of the gospel. There’s nothing left in the cup! He takes that cup of wrath and he transfers it into a communion cup, a cup of joy. And we find fellowship with him, in what he has accomplished for us. When you know that Christ has descended into the full experience of hell, not after his death but upon his cross, then you have assurance.

Excepted from a sermon on Mt 27. You can listen to the whole sermon here.