THE CUP WHICH HE DRANK: THE CUP OF SHAME
CALVARY WAS NOT SOME CHEAP EVENT. It was not a show of tears and piety. It was the action of the Creator of this universe in the ultimate act of Divine holiness. He was redeeming the souls of men and, finally, redeeming His world. The Great God, whom Isaiah called the High and Lofty One that inhabits eternity, whose name is “Holy,” had sent His Son out of eternity into time and space to actually become the sacrifice of redemption.
Most Christians have not yet understood the depth and magnitude of what His death really involved. It was not a religious event as our world has become accustomed. A council of religious men of our modern ilk did not plan and scheme the crucifixion of the Son of God. If our religious big names had planned Calvary, it would have been a circus with rock singers, comedians, a great personality spokesman, and would have ended with a fireworks display. Calvary is so awesome that human lips must speak of it with reverence and great awe.
The nature of God is Holy, but His emotions are saturated with love. We must never contrive the idea that God’s nature is love because that renders God’s actions as compelled by love instead of holiness. Redemption based on love would be less than pure. It is one of the ideas that have weakened the glory of the cross. When we preach the cross that is based on love, we forget to preach His holiness and the absolute standards of His commandments. The angels do not circle the throne of God, crying “Love! Love! Love!” No, the worship of the Heavenly Host is “Holy! Holy! Holy!” The nature of God is Holy and that is why His love is unchangeable. Redemption by the sacrifice of the Son of God was an act of substitution for sin to satisfy the Holiness of divine wrath. Anything less renders the cross a cruel event.
Calvary was an act of divine perfection and holiness. Nothing less than a spotless and perfect sacrifice could satisfy the human need of redemption. The Book of Revelation gives us a very clear picture of the sacrificial demands by divine retribution. The Father is seated on the royal throne of Heavenly Jerusalem. He holds a book in His hand that represents the redemption of the purchased possession. Every act of the final redemption of this universe and the conclusion of all that Calvary had earned was contained in this sealed scroll. A cry went forth, “Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?” (Revelation 5:2)
John began to weep because “…no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.” (Revelation 5:3) This awesome scene clarifies that Calvary was not an option to Jesus Christ. Either the Son of God took upon Himself the redemption of the human race and this earth, or all would be lost. Man would continue his slide into hell and all of creation under Heaven must be abandoned to the eternal destruction of the fallen angel, Satan, and his hellish horde.
But, as John wept, an elder (a redeemed saint) cried out unto John, “…Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain…” (Revelation 5:5-6) Calvary had accomplished its purpose and all of Heaven, along with the raptured saints, was about to break forth in the grand celebration of “completed redemption.”
So often we have heard the Jews accused of killing the Son of Man/Son of God. The Roman soldiers have been trashed for the acts of cruelty to the spotless Lamb. Even all of the created family of lost mankind has shared this guilt with the Jews and the Romans. Yes, we are all guilty because for our sins he died and by acts of human cruelty He suffered a shameless end.
But, it was not the plan or scheme of one living person, either then or now, that hung Him on that cross. “The Father crucified His own Son.” That has got to be the most incredible statement of all human existence. “The Heavenly Father crucified His only Begotten Son.” That’s why He was born of the Virgin Mary by the Holy Ghost and without the nature of sin. It was mankind’s only hope. Either He came and died or all was lost.
Isaiah prophesied of this event with unmistakable clarity. He left no doubt that is was the Father’s sacrifice to save the human race and the created world from the holocaust of sin. Isaiah stated by the Holy Ghost, “Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.” (Isaiah 53:10-11)
Their words are too awesome to utter but by the Holy Ghost. Listen, again. “It pleased the Lord (the Father) to bruise Him (the Son); “He (the Father) hath put Him (the Son) to grief: “When Thou (the Father) shalt make His soul (His Son) an offering for sin, “He (the Father) shall see His (the Son) seed, “He (the Father) shall see of the travail of His soul (His Son), and shall be satisfied.” (Isaiah 53:10-11)
It was indeed the sacrifice of God. The Jews and the Romans paid an awful price for their willing actions in the events of His death. But all of that was secondary to this sacrifice of God that fully satisfied the divine justice of offended Holiness. The millions of lambs and bullocks that had preceded Calvary could not redeem man. Blood has run down the Kidron Valley from a multitude of sacrifices, but sin’s power was unhindered.
That’s why “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) He said, “No man taketh it (life) from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.” (John 10:18) Calvary was the sacrifice of God.
When Peter unsheathed his sword and slashed an ear from Malchus a servant of the High Priest, Jesus said to Peter, “Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?” (John 18:11) In the Garden of Gethsemane, He had prayed in agony saying, “…O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” (Matthew 26:39)
This cup included all that Calvary represented. It’s the same cup we should consider every time we “take the cup of remembrance.” But, let’s just consider one aspect of that cup because it represents the greatest deterrence to surrender. Let’s consider the “cup of shame” because it is shame that keeps many sinners from coming to the mourners’ bench. In fact, sin never fails to create shame. Shame is the scourge of sin and always leaves the soul wounded by its dark results.
From the moment they arrested Him until finally He uttered, “It is finished,” shame was heaped upon Him. His arrest in the garden before His own disciples was meant to humiliate Him and show His enemies disdain. While He was as a sheep before His shearers, they nevertheless bound Him and treated Him as a common criminal. “Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound him.” (John 18:12)
The trial of Jesus was a mockery of broken laws and perverted judgment. First, He was taken before the high priest, where they searched for a reason from His own cross-examination to condemn Him. As the high priest asked Him questions, they became angry because He said nothing to fuel their charges. “The high priest then asked Jesus of his disciples, and of his doctrine. Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing. Why askest thou me? ask them which heard me, what I have said unto them: behold, they know what I said. And when he had thus spoken, one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, Answerest thou the high priest so? Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou me?” (John 18:19-23) To be smitten while being cross-examined was a travesty of justice intended to deepen His shame.
Then, He was taken to the Hall of Judgment, where the Romans continued the trial. That was the place where He was beaten shamelessly. But, it was also a place of grace because every stripe was redemptive and full of grace. When Pilate inquired of the charges, they proclaimed Him a criminal and an evildoer. Can you imagine the shame that He endured as the spotless Lamb of God was declared guilty of gross violation of the very moral standards of His own created universe? The Creator was declared guilty of violating His own holiness! Do not think that this was only a ceremony. He was acting as our substitute, so He had to bear the same sense of shame and guilt as the guilty parties.
“Pilate then went out unto them, and said, what accusation bring ye against this man? They answered and said unto him, If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up unto thee. Then said Pilate unto them, Take ye him, and judge him according to your law. The Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death.” (John 18:29-34) The weight of our shame was falling like a mountain upon Him and He was crushed by this sense of guilt.
Then, they began to reach the heart of the trial. Pilate asked Him, “Art Thou the King of the Jews?” He was actually tried because this idea of His kingship had angered the Jews. Notice how Jesus answered Pilate, “Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me?” (John 18:34) Pilate answered, “…Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done?” (John 18:35) The dialogue between Jesus and Pilate shows how this idea of kingship had infuriated the Jews.
Jesus was careful to show that His kingdom was spiritual and that He was no threat to the Jewish leaders. “Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered; Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.” (John 18:36-37)
Then, they scourged Him. The word for scourge is “flog.” They beat Him with the Roman method of flogging. Using a Roman whip, probably with three thongs, glass, or metal tied in the ends; He was reduced to a shameful hunk of wounded flesh. Isaiah said, “His visage was marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men.” (Isaiah 52:14) This flogging left Him covered in shame that virtue may rise out of this marred, but holy vessel of divine redemption. My bodily healing is settled, needing only my unmoved claim.
Then, they took this marred and almost unidentifiable human frame and put a purple robe on it, along with a crown of thorns about His head. They began their cruel chants, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and even smote Him more as they chanted. Can you see or imagine shame more shattering than pictured in this great Hall of Judgment? A battered, bruised, and beaten Son of Men must have stood up as stately and dignified as any king has ever stood, even in His shame.
Then, the Roman soldiers marched Him out of the Hall of Judgment back to the Jewish crowd. “Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man!” (John 19:5) You must see this picture of the Son of God, flogged within an inch of His life, but dressed in a purple robe with a crown of thorns about His head. The crowd erupted with shameless words, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” The shame continues right on to the Via Dolorosa, leading through Jerusalem to the place of the skull (Golgotha). There, they crucified Him.
Jeremiah cried out, “Shame hath covered our faces.” (Jeremiah 51:51) Daniel spoke of the final judgment as a day of shame. “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” (Daniel 12:2) But, Jesus has borne, literally experienced, every ounce of the shame that sin has caused. Both the shame of our sins and the shame of the final judgment of sin have been laid upon Him. You can reject Him and continue in the shame of sin and even spend eternity in the eternal shame of a devil’s hell, but you do not have to do so. He took your shame, my shame, our shame, and it was nailed to the tree.
Stop and look and live. The Holy Ghost has said, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2) Notice a special statement, “despising the shame.” Jesus drank the cup of shame despising the effect it had created in the human family and stripped it of all of its powers for those who believe.
You should not bow your head in shame, but for a moment of repentance. Then, when the blood has washed it all away, you can raise your head in joy and proclaim, “My shame is gone.” He took my shame from me and gave me a new heart. Never forget. He drank the cup of shame for you.