Republishing today (from June 4, 2012) in preparation for Parts 2 and 3 on Baptism.
The Cup And The Baptism
By Curt Wildy
Matthew 20:20 Then came to him the mother of Zebedee’s children with her sons, worshipping [him], and desiring a certain thing of him. 21 And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom. 22 But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able. 23 And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but [it shall be given to them] for whom it is prepared of my Father.
The mother of the sons of Zebedee desired the same desire that her sons had, she wanted James and John to sit on the right hand and on the left hand of the Lord Jesus Christ come glory. The Lord then answered “Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” When the sons answered in the affirmative, Christ stated “Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with…” When our Lord stated this, was He simply stating (as some teach), that they too would have to face martyrdom? Is the cup and the baptism at issue simply “a drinking of the cup” and a “blood baptism” pointing to the fact that they would have to endure persecution and bear their cross? Are we to go out into the world emphasising the need to “die daily” as “martyrs” — seeking actively to do so? I do not think so. Our daily struggles and persecutions are a drop in the bucket compared to what our Lord endured; nothing that we go through in this life can be truly likened to our Lord’s cup and baptism. He drank the cup alone and endured the winepress alone, though we were vicariously in and with Him as He did it. It is this vicarious nature that marks how all believers truly drink the cup of Christ and are baptized with His baptism. Yet vicarious may not be the best term. From eternity, our life has been hid in Christ and our life is Christ (if we are amongst the elect of God). Where our Life is, we are, though we (as individuals) were not there to experience it ourselves. It is not as if we were there; our Life was there even though we had not yet received that Life by faith upon regeneration.
It is true that concerning the Christian, “it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for his sake [Philippians 1:29]. It is true that to the degree that God ordains, Christians will both suffer persecution (2 Timothy 3:12) and offer their bodies, by His grace, a living sacrifice unto Him (Romans 12:1). Finally it is true that we will bear our cross (i.e. promote His finished work on the cross of Calvary before others) and come after Him (Luke 14:27) as we deny ourselves (Mark 8:34) and mortify our flesh (Romans 8:13) — all as He enables. However, is this what God has in view, or at least primarily in view, when he told the two sons of Zebedee “Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with.” Again, I do not think so.
God, in His word, defines the cup from which the Lord drank. The Bible also defines the baptism with which our Lord was baptised. We do not need to run to the encyclopaedias and commentaries of men to understand these things; those who do, often run very far astray. Neither the cup nor the baptism represent a simple martyrdom; both represent something of a far greater weight. The cup from which Christ spiritually drank, is the cup of God’s wrath. It represents the atonement: His being made sin, His enduring the filth and guilt of it; His enduring the wrath of God for it; and His drinking the cup dry (evidencing the fact that the sins of His elect have been utterly paid for and put away forever). The following list of quotes is a long one but I encourage everyone to read them; I trust that it will be clear that the cup represents both sin and the punishment for sin.
Psalm 11:6 Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: [this shall be] the portion of their cup [H3563 – kowc].
Psalm 75:8 For in the hand of the LORD [there is] a cup [H3563 – kowc], and the wine is red; it is full of mixture; and he poureth out of the same: but the dregs thereof, all the wicked of the earth shall wring [them] out, [and] drink [them].
Psalm 102:1 A Prayer of the afflicted, when he is overwhelmed, and poureth out his complaint before the LORD. Hear my prayer, O LORD, and let my cry come unto thee. 2 Hide not thy face from me in the day [when] I am in trouble; incline thine ear unto me: in the day [when] I call answer me speedily. 3 For my days are consumed like smoke, and my bones are burned as an hearth. 4 My heart is smitten, and withered like grass; so that I forget to eat my bread. 5 By reason of the voice of my groaning my bones cleave to my skin.3 6 I am like a pelican of the wilderness: I am like an owl [H3563 – kowc] of the desert. 7 I watch, and am as a sparrow alone upon the house top. 8 Mine enemies reproach me all the day; [and] they that are mad against me are sworn against me. 9 For I have eaten ashes like bread, and mingled my drink with weeping, 10 Because of thine indignation and thy wrath: for thou hast lifted me up, and cast me down. 11 My days [are] like a shadow that declineth; and I am withered like grass. [Note: here the word kowc is translated as owl and not cup. I include it because the context is still one of Christ’s suffering while in the midst of the Atonement].
Isaiah 51:17 Awake, awake, stand up, O Jerusalem, which hast drunk at the hand of the LORD the cup [H3563 – kowc] of his fury; thou hast drunken the dregs of the cup [H3563 – kowc] of trembling, [and] wrung [them] out… 21 Therefore hear now this, thou afflicted, and drunken, but not with wine: 22 Thus saith thy Lord the LORD, and thy God [that] pleadeth the cause of his people, Behold, I have taken out of thine hand the cup [H3563 – kowc] of trembling, [even] the dregs of the cup [H3563 – kowc] of my fury; thou shalt no more drink it again: 23 But I will put it into the hand of them that afflict thee; which have said to thy soul, Bow down, that we may go over: and thou hast laid thy body as the ground, and as the street, to them that went over.
Jeremiah 25:15 For thus saith the LORD God of Israel unto me; Take the wine cup [H3563 – kowc] of this fury at my hand, and cause all the nations, to whom I send thee, to drink it. 16 And they shall drink, and be moved, and be mad, because of the sword that I will send among them. 17 Then took I the cup [H3563 – kowc] at the LORD’S hand, and made all the nations to drink, unto whom the LORD had sent me: 18 [To wit], Jerusalem, and the cities of Judah, and the kings thereof, and the princes thereof, to make them a desolation, an astonishment, an hissing, and a curse; as [it is] this day… 27 Therefore thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Drink ye, and be drunken, and spue, and fall, and rise no more, because of the sword which I will send among you. 28 And it shall be, if they refuse to take the cup [H3563 – kowc] at thine hand to drink, then shalt thou say unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Ye shall certainly drink. 29 For, lo, I begin to bring evil on the city which is called by my name, and should ye be utterly unpunished? Ye shall not be unpunished: for I will call for a sword upon all the inhabitants of the earth, saith the LORD of hosts.
Jeremiah 49:12 For thus saith the LORD; Behold, they whose judgment [was] not to drink of the cup [H3563 – kowc] have assuredly drunken; and [art] thou he [that] shall altogether go unpunished? thou shalt not go unpunished, but thou shalt surely drink [of it]. 13 For I have sworn by myself, saith the LORD, that Bozrah shall become a desolation, a reproach, a waste, and a curse; and all the cities thereof shall be perpetual wastes.
Jeremiah 51:7 Babylon [hath been] a golden cup [H3563 – kowc] in the LORD’S hand, that made all the earth drunken: the nations have drunken of her wine; therefore the nations are mad.
Lamentations 4:21 Rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom, that dwellest in the land of Uz; the cup [H3563 – kowc] also shall pass through unto thee: thou shalt be drunken, and shalt make thyself naked. 22 The punishment of thine iniquity is accomplished, O daughter of Zion; he will no more carry thee away into captivity: he will visit thine iniquity, O daughter of Edom; he will discover thy sins.
Ezekiel 23:31 Thou hast walked in the way of thy sister; therefore will I give her cup [H3563 – kowc] into thine hand. 32 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou shalt drink of thy sister’s cup [H3563 – kowc] deep and large: thou shalt be laughed to scorn and had in derision; it containeth much. 33 Thou shalt be filled with drunkenness and sorrow, with the cup of astonishment and desolation, with the cup [H3563 – kowc] of thy sister Samaria. 34 Thou shalt even drink it and suck [it] out, and thou shalt break the sherds thereof, and pluck off thine own breasts: for I have spoken [it], saith the Lord GOD. 35 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thou hast forgotten me, and cast me behind thy back, therefore bear thou also thy lewdness and thy whoredoms.
Habakkuk 2:16 Thou art filled with shame for glory: drink thou also, and let thy foreskin be uncovered: the cup [H3563 – kowc] of the LORD’S right hand shall be turned unto thee, and shameful spewing [shall be] on thy glory.
Matthew 26:36 Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. 37 And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. 38 Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. 39 And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup [G4221 – poterion] pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou [wilt]… 42 He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup [G4221 – poterion] may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.
Mark 14:32 And they came to a place which was named Gethsemane: and he saith to his disciples, Sit ye here, while I shall pray. 33 And he taketh with him Peter and James and John, and began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy; 34 And saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch. 35 And he went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. 36 And he said, Abba, Father, all things [are] possible unto thee; take away this cup [G4221 – poterion] from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.
Luke 22:41 And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, 42 Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup [G4221 – poterion] from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.3 43 And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. 44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
John 18:11 Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup [G4221 – poterion] which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?
Revelation 14:9 And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive [his] mark in his forehead, or in his hand, 10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup [G4221 – poterion] of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: 11 And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.
Revelation 16:19 And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup [G4221 – poterion] of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.
Revelation 17:1 And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: 2 With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. 3 So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. 4 And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup [G4221 – poterion] in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:
Revelation 18:1 And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. 2 And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. 3 For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies. 4 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. 5 For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities. 6 Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup [G4221 – poterion] which she hath filled fill to her double. 7 How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow. 8 Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong [is] the Lord God who judgeth her.
The cup can be viewed from three vantage points:
Firstly, we see in Jeremiah 51:7 Babylon [hath been] a golden cup [H3563 – kowc] in the LORD’S hand, that made all the earth drunken: the nations have drunken of her wine; therefore the nations are mad. This golden cup and the resulting drunkenness or madness represents the utter state of natural man — being thoroughly inebriated with the filthiness of sin. Drunkenness and nakedness, when looked at spiritually, always typify sin. By taking upon Himself the sin of His people, the Lord Jesus Christ became as one who drank of the cup — yet without ever committing any sin of his own (not in thought, word, or deed).
Secondly, the cup also represents punishment for sin. We read in Isaiah 51:17 Awake, awake, stand up, O Jerusalem, which hast drunk at the hand of the LORD the cup [H3563 – kowc] of his fury; thou hast drunken the dregs of the cup [H3563 – kowc] of trembling, [and] wrung [them] out. When did spiritual Israel, the New Jerusalem, drink of the cup of fury and trembling? When Christ so drank! He is the Jerusalem in view because we are His body and are one with Him. When He drank, we drank in Him. As we read on, we see that in light of the substitutionary work of Christ, 22 Thus saith thy Lord the LORD, and thy God [that] pleadeth the cause of His people, Behold, I have taken out of thine hand the cup [H3563 – kowc] of trembling, [even] the dregs of the cup [H3563 – kowc] of my fury; thou shalt no more drink it again: 23 But I will put it into the hand of them that afflict thee… The cup was removed from the hand of the elect church, but only after the Lord Jesus drank it dry on our behalf. Once that was done, God promised that we should no more drink it again (neither again in Christ or in our own persons come Judgment Day) but that it should be given to the wicked, those who afflict the true Church, those who are without a divine Substitute. This is clearly seen in Lamentations when Jeremiah, prophetically and parabolically speaking of the experience of Christ on the cross, declared :
Lamentations 1:20 Behold, O LORD; for I [am] in distress: my bowels are troubled; mine heart is turned within me; for I have grievously rebelled: abroad the sword bereaveth, at home [there is] as death. 21 They have heard that I sigh: [there is] none to comfort me: all mine enemies have heard of my trouble; they are glad that thou hast done [it]: thou wilt bring the day [that] thou hast called, and they shall be like unto me.11 22 Let all their wickedness come before thee; and do unto them, as thou hast done unto me for all my transgressions: for my sighs [are] many, and my heart [is] faint.
Note also that one of the greatest punishments experienced in Hell, I have no doubt, will be a deep and wretched sense of the filth and vileness of sin. I believe that eternal punishment lies not only in hellfire, not only in the fury of God, but in a deep sense of guilt, bewilderment, hopelessness, and utter despair. When Christ was made sin for us, He did not endure the anger of God only; He suffered as we would have, He suffered from the vileness of who and what we are by nature — yet without any sin of His own. In this light, we see that the first and second vantage points are intimately related and even, in the atonement, inseparable.
Thirdly, the cup which the Lord Jesus Christ drank is the heart of the Gospel. He was made sin, bore our sin in His own body, and drunk the sin dry (absorbing all of the punishment due it and thoroughly putting the sin away forever). Our Lord’s “drinking of the cup,” along with language like “the cross of Christ,” and “the blood of Christ,” represents the entire atoning, propitiatory, and redeeming work that He finished. This cup then, this cup that Christ drank, becomes for us a cup of cold (living) water (Matthew 10:42). It becomes the living water of the Gospel when applied to our hearts by the Holy Spirit. Though we sorrow over the suffering of Christ, and cannot even begin to think of His great torment in our stead without being moved, we rejoice in it nonetheless. His cup of suffering becomes our cup of peace, joy and safety.
Psalm 116:3 The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow. 4 Then called I upon the name of the LORD; O LORD, I beseech thee, deliver my soul. 5 Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful. 6 The LORD preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me. 7 Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the LORD hath dealt bountifully with thee. 8 For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling. 9 I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living. 10 I believed, therefore have I spoken: I was greatly afflicted: 11 I said in my haste, All men are liars. 12 What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me? 13 I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD.
The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? (1 Corinthians 10:16). The communion of the blood is realised in the highest during the crucifixion of Christ when we were baptised with Him and crucified with him. This cup is the cup of salvation that Christ earned through His suffering and that we drink together in Him.
Romans 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? 3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also [in the likeness] of [his] resurrection: 6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with [him], that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
Galatians 2:21 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
Matthew 26:26 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed [it], and brake [it], and gave [it] to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. 27 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave [it] to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; 28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
Though I make no excuse for sin, if there were none, there could be no great deliverance from it. Fallen humanity’s collective drinking of the golden cup of Babylon was foreordained and purposed by God to show forth His glory in the highest — in the person and work of Christ Jesus the Lord. Because He took our cup (i.e. our sin and our punishment for sin), we can say in and with Christ “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever” (Psalm 23:5–6).
The cup that we drink is the cup that Christ drank; when He drank it, His elect church did as well. This is a key aspect of our eternal vital union with Him and our Salvation in and by Him. This is the cup that we lift up and promote before men. Those who do not know the Gospel or the grace of God will promote their own sufferings and persecutions and obscure the true and all-sufficient nature of the singular cup-drinking of Christ. As Christians, I trust it will never be that we make our daily sufferings, persecutions, etc. of more weight and importance than the cup we already drank in Christ while He endured the cross of Calvary. May the focus, glory, and honour be on Him and Him alone — not on ourselves.
Lord willing, in Part Two I will address the baptism aspect in more detail, specifically as (spiritual) baptism relates to the atoning and propitiatory work of Christ.
Continued In Part Two