"He went a little further, and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me" (Matthew 26:39).
As Jesus lies prostrate on the ground, we overhear Him making this plea repeatedly. He lifts His head, and His expression reveals an agony so intense that His sweat is like "great drops of blood falling down to the ground" (Luke 22:44). His words tell us why: "Let this cup pass from Me."
What is this cup? It is clearly a reference to the wrath of God for your sins and mine. Isaiah 51:17 shows us this cup in God's extended hand—it's "the cup of His fury," and for those who drink from it, it's "the cup of trembling." This cup contains the full vehemence and fierceness of God's holy wrath poured out against all sin, and we discover in Scripture that it's your cup … and mine.
What Jesus recoils from here is not an anticipation of the physical pain associated with crucifixion. Rather it's a pain infinitely greater—the utter distress of soul as He confronts total abandonment and absolute wrath from His Father on the cross. As we watch Jesus pray in Gethsemane, He has every right to turn His tearful eyes toward you and me and shout, "This is your cup. You're responsible for this. It's your sin! You drink it!" This cup should rightfully be thrust into my hand and yours.
Instead, Jesus freely takes it Himself … so that from the cross He can look down at you and me, whisper our names and say, "I drain this cup for you."
—Condensed from Christ Our Mediator: Finding Passion at the Cross by C.J. Mahaney. Copyright (c) 2004 by Sovereign Grace Ministries.