We are a people familiar with hate. We've seen ton's of hate and the wrath and destruction that it causes:
- 6 million Jews dead in the Holocaust
- Over 20 million killed in World War II, more than 80% of those civilians
- Over 2900 Killed and two gigantic towers leveled on September 11th
- The beheadings and murder of Nick Berg, Ken Bigley, and countless others in the Middle East.
- 56 killed in London bombings on July 7th
- 88 or more killed in the attack in Cairo on July 23rd.
But most likely very few of us intimately know that kind of hate, the kind of wrath that makes us fall on our face and tremble in fear. I imagine myself face to face with a terrorist, him having a knife to my neck and I shudder a little bit. I know that I'd do almost anything to get myself out of that situation.
There is something much more terrifying which does not affect me as it should. Proverbs 6:16 says that there are seven things which the Lord hates, that are an abomination to him: "Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feed that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers." I'm guilty on seven counts. I have something a whole lot scarier than a Nazi or a terrorist to contend with, I've earned the wrath of God. Jesus says (Matthew 10:28), "And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destory both soul and body in hell."
Unlike our our selfish, sinful, unrighteous, unjustified, God-defying hate, God has a perfect, God-glorifying, perfectly righteous and just hate for sin. And God's hatred for sin is so fierce, so brutal, and so inescapable that it is beyond our comprehension. We saw a glimpse, but a very tempered version of it, when He destroyed all but a family in the flood, when fire fell from heaven to consume Sodom and Gomorrah, and when God destroys entire nations that rebell against Him, but nowhere was that hatred so purely and fully expressad than at the cross.
Each of us, not a single one in this room, and I'm aware of none so guilty as I am, have earned an eternity so horrid in Hell that all we would be able to do day-after-day for one thousand years is to cry our with no hope of relief and knash our teeth in agony like one who is being burned alive and feels every second of it but can never just die and then at the end of that thousand years have a thousand more thousands with no hope of relief, not even a second. And we earned it. That is our cup to drink. That is my cup: Eternal wrath.
I can't get my mind around it, but when I try I shudder to my very deepest core and beg God for mercy. I can't comprehend that, but Jesus could, and his response was the same. Turn to Matthew 26:39, the Garden of Gathsemane, "And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me." The cup he is speaking is what Isaiah (51:17) called the cup of God's wrath..the cup of staggering," and at the thought of it Jesus staggered and fell to the ground and begged God for another way. He could have said, and would have been justified in saying, "Father, those disciples sleeping over there have earned this cup. I don't want it. Make them drink it." But he did something so humble, so loving, so unfathomable, he stared into that cup which contained all the wrath of God not just against one man's sins but against billions of those who had rebelled and sinned against Him. Jesus was staring into into the cup of almighty God's wrath and said that thing for which we love Him, praise Him, and remember Him today, (Matthew 26:42) "My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it your will be done."
God's hatred against sin is greater than we could comprehend but His love and mercy is greater still. The one who ruled heaven and earth, created all with a word, and holds everything together by his will stepped out of heaven and became a man. He did this so that he could go to the cross as a sacrifice on my behalf and there drink the cup of God's wrath against me so that I could live, so that I could drink the cup of grace, the cup of the new covenant. This all-powerful one shook, cried, and sweated blood and then willingly went to the cross to be murdered by His father.
For eternity Jesus had experienced perfect intimacy with His Father in the trinity. I've only known imperfect intimacy with my wife for 3 1/2 years. I cannot imagine giving up that intimacy for anything in the world. Jesus went to the cross and the Trinity was ripped in two. The Father stared at His Son whom He loved and saw my sin and your sin and hated him. And Jesus cried out in so much more pain and agony than anything those nails or the gaping wounds on his back could cause him, (Matthew 27:46) "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" He drank every last drop of that cup for you and for me the cup which I deserved to drink.
And now, the men will come down the aisles and serve us a little piece of bread and a little cup with juice in it. Jesus told us to eat this bread to remember his body which was broken in our place. He told us to drink this cup, "the blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins," in remembrance of him.
So for all of you, whether East Valley Bible Church Tempe is your regular body or if you are just visiting, if Jesus and his death and resurrection are your only hope to avoid wrath and enjoy God forever, please participate in this. However, if you, in your own judgment of yourself cannot say with certainty that you have place all of your hope in Jesus then please let the cup pass by. Jesus came to earth to live a perfect life and then to die on your behalf. So please, stop trying to earn heaven. You can't. All that you've earned is this cup of wrath. John 3:16-17 says, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him." So, even if you've never trusted Jesus like this before, you too can participate in this time if you put your faith in him. Then please meet with one of us after the service, even grab me during the service if you need to, I'd love to pray with you. But if you have come and Jesus is not your hope, he's not your treasure, please let the cup and the bread pass you by.
Please prepare your heart, thank Him, praise Him and we will take communion together in a few minutes.
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:26, that as often as we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. We proclaim that we have nothing to offer God but Sin. Our position before God was damned. We proclaim that God the Father killed Jesus on our behalf, placing all our sins on him, and giving us His righteousness. Then on the third day He raised Jesus from the dead and as we eat and drink we look forward to that day when we will eat and drink Jesus in His Father's Kingdom. Eat the bread and drink the cup.