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The Cup of Fellowship
I love to ride the California Coast. I’m grateful that God has made a home for me close to the Pacific Coast Highway. The only way to improve this ride is the company of friends. The scenery is stunning and the vistas are breathtaking, but sharing the view with friends makes these times memorable. And, there is a Starbucks within sight of the ocean for enjoying a cup of fellowship on sunny days.
One of Jesus’ favorite spots was the beautiful Garden of Gethsemane. No ocean view for Jesus, but the flickering of lamps in the city just three miles away, powered by the oil from the olive trees in the garden. He often traveled to this quiet place to pray with close friends. A garden of ancient olive trees can still be seen there to this day. The name of this productive garden literally means “oil press.” Olive oil was used for cooking, lamps, and even spiritual applications such as anointing the sick for prayer. But, for Jesus’ purposes, this was a place of intimate connection with the Father in prayer and His brothers in fellowship.
The most impactful moment of prayer in this place came the night Jesus was betrayed.* For those of us who love Jesus, this moment in time is heart-wrenching. Friends had accompanied him in order to provide support and comfort, but they were too sleepy to provide any fellowship. Even in the company of friends, he found himself all alone.
As Jesus confesses the depth of his sorrow, he prays to the Father requesting the removal of a cup. What could have possibly have held such dread? A cup of poison, sewage, or shards of glass? The truth was actually much worse; this “cup” contained the all righteous wrath of God toward all the sinful rebellion of mankind. In the moment he drank that cup on the cross, Jesus would experience His first and only moment of separation from His perfectly holy Father. Broken fellowship due to sin; our sin, not His. Although Jesus never sinned, He willingly became “the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”*
Greatness in God’s Kingdom grows from the soil of suffering and sacrificial service to mankind. The greatest sacrifice in all eternity was made by the one who deserved His suffering the least. He drank the cup of wrath and sin so that we might enjoy the cup of unbroken fellowship with our Father in heaven.
So now, we find courage to live in the knowledge that, because of the sacrifice of Jesus, He will always be with us. We will never be alone.
*II Corinthians 5:21