This Week's Focus Passage

‘Are ye able to drink the cup that I drink?’

Focus Passage: Mark 10:38

‘Are ye able to drink the cup that I drink?’

In the context beginning with the asseveration of Peter in verse 28, when he claimed that they—the disciples—had left all, and have followed Christ, we have this issue that sometimes, and often, encompasses those who have left families for the sake of the Truth; the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus has spoken of this taking up his cross in order to follow Him (Matthew 10:34-39); again in a context of those nearest and dearest ‘according to the flesh.’ May it not be the case that when Jesus spoke of taking up one’s cross, that it has the same connotation as does drinking the cup that He drinks? of being baptized with the same baptism with which He was baptized? Not only did His ‘baptism’ involve, as far as our puny brains can lay hold upon, a radical separation from His Father (Proverbs 8:30-31), but also from His ‘kinsmen according to the flesh.’ This is expressly discovered unto us in John’s account of the life of Christ upon earth when we read in chapter seven, verses 1-5:

And after these things Jesus walked in Galilee: for he would not walk Judea, because the Jews sought to kill him. Now the feast of tabernacles was at hand. His brethren therefore said unto him, depart hence, and go into Judea, that thy disciples also may behold thy works which thou doest. For no man doeth anything in secret, and himself to be known openly. If thou doest these things, manifest thyself to the world. For even his brethren did not believe on him.

John pointed out much earlier, in his first chapter, in reference to His Jewish kinsmen according to the flesh, that neither did they believe on Him. They that were his own received him not.—John 1:11. Is this the cup that we may have to drink? Is this the baptism with which we may have to be baptized with? Is this perhaps our cross that we must bear? Maybe it is all of the above.

While the mystery of godliness, God manifested in the flesh, is far beyond our finest ability to comprehend, we understand that the Person of Jesus Christ was a joining of the nature of God with the nature of man in the incarnation. We know, through faith, that Jesus is indeed the God-man. He is 100% God and 100% man! ‘Was it God or a man that was hanged upon the cross?’ was a question raised at a bible study some years ago. The answer tendered to that inquiry was simple, yet profound; ‘It was a Person.’ Yes, it was the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. God, the second person of the Trinity was gloriously, and forever, joined to our humanity in the Person of Jesus, the Son of God; Jesus, the son of man; mystery indeed. So often we witness, in the Scriptures, attributes that clearly belong to God alone, and attributes that clearly belong to man. Two examples will suffice. When Nathanael came to Jesus at the urging of Philip, the Savior said to him, Before Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee, demonstrating His omniscience to this young Israelite. Yet, of this omniscient Son of God, we later witness Him weeping over Jerusalem. Neither were these tears a case of anthropathy, but they were real and true human tears running down the cheeks of the God-man. There are numberless instances of the reality of the union of God and man. Our purpose, at this point, is to bring to our minds and hearts that Jesus was, and is, truly God and man. He learned obedience by the things which he suffered. One of the things which He suffered along with many of His believing followers, was the estrangement and the desertion of His family and friends as He followed God’s will for His life.

This estrangement was but one of the cups that Christ had to drink while He sojourned here on earth. This is one of the cups that His disciples are often called upon to drink; are ye able to drink the cup that I drink? We must not imagine that our Lord was immune, or insensitive, to having his half-brothers disbelieve in Him; we must not presume that He felt no sadness when they that were his own received him not; we have no reason to presume that He did not share the same sorrow with regard to his kinsmen according to the flesh that brought tears to the eyes of the apostle Paul when he spoke of this in Romans 9. Jesus and Paul shared what each and every one of us, in Christ, experience again and again. How did Jesus cope with it? How did Paul cope with it? How do we cope with it?

Neither Jesus nor Paul discontinued exemplifying the truth to their kinsmen, nor did they become angry or irritable toward those who would not listen; who would not believe the gospel. This is very likely where many of us fail. We need to try our best to recall that that brother, that sister, that child, that friend is presently in the very place that we were once in; this should engender compassion. It is true that Jesus was never in that condition; He ever was, and ever is, without sin. But we remember the words in John’s account of our Savior’s life; how he reported in 2:25, of Jesus, for he himself knew what was in man. As mysterious as that truly is for us to grasp, we know with certainty that Jesus has more compassion for man than ever any of us, and we must strive to learn that compassion, and reserve our frustration. We cannot feign some defense for isolation on the basis that we belong to a better country—which we do—but we must seek to maintain connections if at all possible.

David Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote very helpfully on this matter with respect to Paul’s unceasing concerns for his ‘kinsmen according to the flesh.’ He writes that while it is true that we live in a new world with a new heart;

“while that is all perfectly true of us; it does not mean that we have ceased to be interested in the old relationship. We must not say that. All I am saying is that the new relationship is the one that becomes supreme. But it does not cancel the other. Now this is a point which some people seem to find difficult to grasp. The Christian is never meant to be unnatural. He is spiritual, but that does not mean that he becomes unnatural, he does not sever completely the old relationship. He is in a new one, there is this essential difference, but it does not mean that he has ceased altogether to belong to the ‘order of nature’, so-called.”—Lloyd-Jones.

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church

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