Take This Cup

Liz Curtis Higgs

When I pickednew” as my word for 2020, I didn’t have in mind a scary new virus. Oh my.

As we struggle to keep up with the latest reports from around the world, a soul-calming reminder for us all: God remains unchanged (Hebrews 13:8) and His Word endures forever (Isaiah 40:8).

Even so, as He gathered with His disciples on the night He was betrayed, Jesus did introduce something new, planned before the beginning of time. Let’s take a look.

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 

In the same way, after the supper he took the cup… Luke 22:20

This opening phrase points back to an action taken moments earlier during the meal, when Jesus “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’” (Luke 22:19).

So, first the bread. His body, broken for us.

On hundreds of Sunday mornings, I’ve held a thin wafer, small pellet, or torn piece of bread in my cupped hands and reflected on the immensity of His sacrifice. Wherever and whenever we participate in this sacrament – the eucharist, the Lord’s Supper, communion – bread comes first.

Then, “in like manner” (ASV), while the disciples surely looked at one another, trying to grasp the true meaning of His words, Jesus “did the same” (CJB) with a cup of wine.

…he took the cup saying “This cup is the new covenant…” Luke 22:20

With a “cup of wine in his hands” (CEV), Jesus told them about “the new promise” (NOG) His sacrifice would make possible, “the new testament” (KJ21) His death would usher in. A new and “binding relationship between God and his people” (EXB), which harkened back to the old covenant that God introduced through the prophet Moses.

“Moses then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, ‘This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words’” (Exodus 24:8).

God knew the old covenant wouldn’t be sufficient, that the blood of a young bull could never atone for the sins of the world. That’s why He told His people through the prophet Jeremiah, “‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah’” (Jeremiah 31:31).

All the animals ever born couldn’t spill enough blood to cover our sins. But God could.

“…in my blood,…” Luke 22:20

And so, we take the cup, as we must. I always find this element harder to swallow than the bread, as I hold a thimbleful of wine or grape juice and think about our Lord nailed to a cross, spilling His blood to give me eternal life.

So much love. So much mercy.

This new covenant of grace was “written” (MSG) and “established” (HCSB) and “made” (VOICE) with His blood. “Sealed” (EXB) and “confirmed” (NLT) and “ratified” (AMP) in His blood.

There was nothing tidy and neat about His death. It was dirty, sweaty, grimy. The skin on His back was torn to shreds, His hands and feet were pierced with crude nails, even as a crown of sharp thorns pressed into His scalp.

So much pain. So much blood.

All of it was necessary. All of it was purposeful. “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace” (Ephesians 1:7).

“…which is poured out for you.” Luke 22:20

For you, beloved. For you. His blood was “shed for you” (KJ21), “as a sacrifice for you” (NLT), with one glorious goal, “to purchase back your souls (TLB).

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Lord Jesus.

If you’re wondering why I scattered this post with pink begonias and dahlias, rather than images of suffering and pain, it’s not meant to soften His sacrifice; it’s meant to glorify it, highlighting the beauty and perfection of His gift to us.

Our special giveaway this month was a lovely book with 365 devotions written for women by women, new from Our Daily Bread. They kindly asked me to write the foreword for God Sees Her, which was a joy to do, since I’ve read every word and loved it.

From the comments below, I chose five winners at random on March 27. Congrats to Katy, Kimme, Holly, Melinda, and Ann, who described what God sees when He looks at you. Feel free to still leave a reply, and thanks for sharing.

Since our Women’s Bible Study can no longer meet on Tuesday mornings at our church, we’re gathering online and you are invited. Join me the next three Tuesdays – March 24, March 31, and April 7 – for Tuesdays @ Twelve on Facebook LIVE with Liz, as we continue our study of The Women of Easter.

Don’t do Facebook? No worries. You can watch the video anytime after it’s live, from any device you own. I’ll post the links each week on my website too, so they’re easy to find.

Meanwhile, stay safe, stay well, and stay close to the One who sees you and loves you.

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