By Kris Bruun
In Sunday school today we started the new series, “Daily Life in Bible Times,” with a reflection on cups, pitchers, and drinking vessels. The Bible came alive in a different way as we focused on the cultural elements that provide the background of the text. It became easier to hear what the original listeners may have heard. The text began to carry new depth for me.
We started out by sharing a day when “our cup overflowed,” as in Psalm 23. At my table, we talked about experiences of serving the poor, about friendship, about a family reunion, about falling in love after a loss, and about celebrating an adoption. It was fun, and interesting.
After considering the positive ways that drink is referred to, we then looked at Isaiah 51: 17-23, which talks about Jerusalem, the mother of the sons of Israel, drinking for her sins the cup of God’s wrath and becoming staggering drunk along with them. (A similar image occurs in Jeremiah 25:27.) It is an image of utter desolation, of “ruin and destruction, famine and sword.” Then we moved to Jesus in the garden and heard him pray, “Father, if it be your will, let this cup pass from me.” But it was not the Father’s will, and Jesus drank the bitter cup of God’s wrath to the dregs. He emptied the cup so that there might be nothing left for us to drink of the wrath of God.
The prophet Isaiah had foretold it when God spoke: “See, I have taken out of your hand the cup that made you stagger; from that cup, the goblet of my wrath, you will never drink again.” (Isaiah 51:22)
As I write, I am drinking ice water from a sturdy red plastic glass. Sometimes I like to drink Coca-Cola, and in the morning I sip tea from my favorite cup. A gin and tonic is nice at a party. But I never have to drink from the goblet of God’s wrath because Jesus drank it all for me.
There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. – Romans 8:1Lord, every time I lift a cup to my lips, may I remember that my cup runneth over with your love and that I am spared the goblet of your wrath because of what your Son did for me.
Cups, pitchers, and drinking vessels – not so simple after all. I can’t wait for next week!
If our Bible class got you interested in Bible artifacts, you might check out this “online museum.”
Make sure to look for King Herod’s wine jug!