The Cup of Psalm 23 Points to the Cup of Christ’s Suffering
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On the night before his crucifixion, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus cried out to God, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” (Matthew 26:39)
Jesus knew the agony that awaited him at the cross, an agony he was willing to endure for the sake of his sheep. He had even warned his disciples that this would happen just hours before, during their last supper together. Here, a cup was used again, this time as Jesus related the Passover meal to his eventual sacrifice. “And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, ‘drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.’” (Matthew 26:27-28)
As a fulfillment of prophecy, Jesus didn’t just spill one drop of blood. The shepherd became the sacrificial lamb who was willing to give it all so that we, his sheep, might be saved.
Earlier in Matthew’s gospel, the mother of James and John, two of Christ’s disciples, came to Jesus and asked if her sons could be seated at his right and left in eternity. To this, Jesus asked, “are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?” (Matthew 20:22). James and John quickly answered, “yes,” most likely unaware of what Jesus meant.
Jesus warned his disciples that they too would face persecution and hardship in life (James 1:2-4; 2 Timothy 3:12). This is a message for today’s Christians as well. However, Jesus reminds us all that, “these things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Not unlike the 23rd Psalm, the good shepherd promises to never abandon his sheep. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me,” David writes (Psalm 23:4)
David concluded his most famous Psalm with the words, “surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:6)
As someone who had encountered the fullness of God’s favor and abundance of God’s presence, David trusted that God’s best was still to come. He had only scratched the surface of God’s blessing and favor.
Even in the midst of life’s most crazy, trying moments, the shepherd was never far. He always had a plan and that plan was good. These are words that encourage Christ’s followers because they are just as true today.
So why is God so generous?
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