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  • Writer's picturePastor Jim Stultz

The Sword or the Cup

In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus was in a great agony of spirit as He contemplated going to the cross to pay for our sins. He prayed to His Father three times about drinking the cup that the Father gave to Him. This “cup” was symbolic of His taking all of the sins of the whole world on Himself as He died on the cross. The cup also included the coming separation from His Father while He bore the sins of the world. After His intense prayer His resolute heart was set on drinking that cup. As the soldiers arrived to arrest Him, Peter jumped up to defend Jesus and cut off the high priest’s servant’s ear. Jesus told Peter to put up his sword. If Jesus needed a sword He could call on His Father who would send 12 legions of angels to defend Him.

In the Garden of Gethsemane that night Peter chose the sword, Jesus chose the cup. I believe that you and I have that same choice to make when we go through an intense trial or Gethsemane-like experience. We can choose to fight and battle with the sword of our human strength, our fleshly energy, or our determination. However, when the pain comes, when the night grows dark, and the rescue doesn’t show up we can choose the cup. The cup that Jesus accepted in the garden represents submission to the Father’s will. Our Heavenly Father may be offering us a cup that is not very pleasant to drink. He gave Job a full cup of physical suffering, family tragedy, financial loss, and public humiliation. He gave to His servant Joseph the cup of hatred by his brothers, and being forsaken and forgotten in prison. He gave Paul a thorn in the flesh.

Perhaps you are entering a Gethsemane experience yourself. How will you handle it? Our precious Lord told Peter: “…Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?” (John 18:11). We can choose the sword of self-preservation and determined self-effort. Or we can take the cup of submission to our Father’s will. The cup is always the best choice.

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