And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee (James and John), and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.
Then saith He unto them, "My soul is exceeding sorrowful even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.
And He went a little farther, and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me: nevertheless not as I will but as Thou wilt."
Isn't that a beautiful prayer? Did He want to drink the cup? He didn't. "Please don't. If there is any way out of this, provide a way out. But Your will be done."
And there was no way out. Christ drank the cup that He did not want to drink, and it killed Him.
I want to relate to you an experience that happened in World War Two, back in the forties. A Christian young man joined the United States Navy. It's hard to become a Christian and maintain your Christian experience when you're in the Navy. A lot of things go on there. Eventually this gentleman was promoted. He became the captain of a large transport ship. One day he was assigned to his large across the Atlantic to Europe with a load of one thousand troops. They were going over to fight the enemy. So he had a very valuable cargo. When you have a thousand lives in your hands, that's an awesome challenge.
They were in a convoy, and as they were going across, of course, the waters were dangerous, not just because of the weather, but because of the German submarines. One day the were traveling along in this convoy, and somebody happened to spot, way off to the side, a submarine come up and break the surface. This German sub fired a torpedo directly at this transport ship.
Well, the captain realized there was no chance that such a large ship could maneuver out of the path of that torpedo. They could not turn fast enough to be missed by the torpedo. It was going to hit! So, he announced over the P. A. system , "Boys, this is it. Prepare to die." His passenger came running up on deck. Each man was paying his last respects. Some were going through the Rosary, some were praying, some were panicked. They were preparing to die because this torpedo was coming and there was no way to avoid it. The ship was too big to stop, too big to turn. All eyes were on the track of that torpedo. Here it came! It was just a matter of time.
Nearby, in the convoy, was a little destroyer. The captain of that ship also saw the submarine and saw what was happening. Without a moment's hesitation, he called for full speed ahead. That little destroyer tried to intercept that torpedo. It managed to do it because it was fast, and got between the huge transport and the torpedo. Now the torpedo was aimed at the destroyer. The troops on board, these thousand men, saw what was happening. Everybody could see what was going on. And here it came! All these men separated from impending doom by a little ship that came between them and death. Finally the torpedo hit the destroyer amidship. It went off with a tremendous explosion. The destroyer was broken into a thousand pieces, blown to smithereens. Quickly it sank and not a man on board was saved. They all lost their lives.
There was silence on board the transport, a lot of prayers of thanks, a lot of tears, because the other people gave their lives to save all those boys on board. Especially the captain, this Christian man of the of the transport ship. He got to thinking about what happened. You see, the captain of the destroyer was his best friend. The very best friend he had in the world, and he gave his life for his friend. There's a text in John 15:13 that says, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."
Dear friend, I want you to know that when Jesus drank that cup, that He did not want to drink there in Gethsemane, that He came between us and the torpedo that the devil has, because everyone of us is under fire. Every single person, everyone of you, is in the devil's gunsight. He is aiming his guns at you. He wants to destroy you. But Jesus took the cup, the cup that had the name, Don Gettys, on it, the cup that has your name on it. Jesus drank that cup for you. So that poison that was intended to kill you, He took. That's exactly what Jesus did. And it destroyed Him. It cost Him His entire life. In the process provided a way of escape for you. And that's what we as Christians call "salvation." That's what happened.
Look over at Luke 22:17-20 NIV). Here's the experience of Jesus taking the cup. Here's how He did it. After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, "Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes."
And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me."
And in the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. He took it upon Himself. Jesus took the death that should have been my death, and died that death that I might have the life that He had. It's called the cup exchange. He gives me the cup of life. He takes my cup of death. He comes between me and the German submarine, between me and the torpedo. And He takes that explosion in His body and gives me eternal life. I love Jesus, don't you? Isn't that beautiful? That's a valuable gift. And it comes at a tremendous price. The gift cost Jesus His life.
Now, I want to ask you today, which ship are you? Are you the submarine? Are you firing out missiles of destruction at people and you're constantly out to "get" somebody? Or maybe you're on the transport ship. Maybe that's you are. Maybe you are on that ship and you have been saved from sure death. And there you are, just rejoicing in the salvation that has been provided for you. Or, maybe you're on the destroyer. And maybe you are giving your life to save your wife, your husband, to save your children. Maybe you're trying to save somebody else here today. Whatever it is, you're in one of those scenarios.
I want to tell you that Captain Jesus did even more than to die for His best friend. Jesus died for you while you were yet enemies with Him. Isn't that what it says in Romans? Romans 5:6-10. While we were enemies Christ died for us. What a Savior we have! He didn't die for His best friend, He died for somebody that dishonored Him, somebody that disappointed Him, somebody who did not love Him back. And that's Jesus' gift for you. And Jesus says here in Romans 6:23, where the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus our Lord.
So, every time you hold the communion cup in your hand, it isn't filled with poison, it's filled with the saving blood of Jesus. He took the poison cup. He took the torpedo, midships. And gave me the cup of life. I love Jesus. Don't you love a person like that. It's special. All that we might have, His cup of life. Today you have that opportunity. We're going to be experiencing the communion service. We precede this in the Seventh-day Adventist church with a service that we call, "The Ordinance of Humility", the foot-washing service. If you desire to partake of that you're welcome to do so. Everybody is welcome. If you're Christian, this is for you.
[We go to different rooms for the foot-washing and then return to the sanctuary for the bread and the wine.]
Hymn of Praise: #7, The Lord in Zion Reigneth Scripture: John 6:53-57 Hymn of Response: #300, Rock of Ages
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last updated 3/26/2000 by Bob Beckett.