Drink the Cup, Not of Judgment, But of Salvation

By Mark D. Roberts

October 31, 2017

Awake, awake!
Rise up, Jerusalem,
you who have drunk from the hand of the LORD
the cup of his wrath,
you who have drained to its dregs
the goblet that makes people stagger.

Isaiah 51:17


An empty coffee cup.In Isaiah 51:17, as in many verses of the Old Testament, drinking the cup symbolizes God’s judgment. Jerusalem drank “the cup of [the LORD’s] wrath” when the Babylonians invaded, destroying the temple and taking the best of her citizens to Babylon.

Yet Isaiah offers the hope that, in time, the cup of fury would be removed from Israel. In verse 22 the Lord says, “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.”

God removed the cup of wrath for us by drinking it through God the Son. We see this in the New Testament. For example, when the soldiers came to arrest Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter drew a sword in order to defend Jesus. But Jesus replied: “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” (John 18:11). For Jesus, the “cup” stood for the cross. There he would drink the cup of God’s judgment, not for himself because he did not deserve it, but for Israel and, indeed, for all humanity.

Because Jesus drank the cup of divine judgment, he is able to offer us a different cup: “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’” (Luke 22:20). Jesus drank our cup of judgment so that we might drink his cup of salvation. Thus we live each day, not in fear of God’s condemnation, but in gratitude for God’s grace in Christ.


Do you truly live as if Jesus drank your cup of judgment? Why or why not?

Do you live in the freedom of God’s grace? Or do you try to earn God’s favor by your own efforts?

If you know you were truly and fully forgiven in Christ, what difference might this make in your daily life?


Gracious God, how I thank you for your amazing grace. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for drinking the cup of fury. You took upon yourself the righteous judgment of God, thus bearing my sin in my place. You drank the cup of judgment so that I might drink from the cup of salvation. What a wonder!

Dear Lord, since you drank my cup of judgment, help me not to live as if I had to drink some of it too. May I truly accept the freedom you have offered me. And may I use this freedom, not to sin, but to serve you in gratitude and joy, in every part of life. May I drink your cup of salvation in celebration. Amen.


Photo by Ian Keefe on Unsplash.


Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentaryWhat Is the “Cup” That Jesus Wants His Father to Take Away?

Mark D. Roberts

Senior Strategist

Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders,...

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