When we think of the cup that was placed before Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, we tend to think of it merely in terms of the wrath of God–since that is what the cup most clearly symbolizes in the writings of the OT prophets. While we would never dare reduce it to something less than this, there is certainly more intended by the sight of the cross. When Jesus looked into the cup He saw–from every dimension of His sufferings–all that He would suffer, both at the hands of men, Satan and God Himself. Isaac Ambrose captured so well the meaning of the cup when he set out what he believed to be the 6 ingredients that made it so burdensome a sight to the soul of the sinless Son of God:
“1. The great pain that he must endure, buffetings, whippings, bleedings, crucifying; all the torments from first to last throughout all his body; why, all these now came into his mind, and all these were put into a cup, of which he must drink.
2. The great shame that he must undergo; this was more than pain, as ‘a good name is better than precious ointment, and loving favor better than silver and gold,’ so is shame a greater punishment to the mind than any torture can be to the flesh. Now came into his thoughts, his apprehending, binding, judging, scorning, reviling, condemning! And oh, what a bloody blush comes into the face of Christ, while in the cup he sees these ingredients!
3. The neglect of men, notwithstanding both his pain and shame, I look upon this as a greater cut to the heart of Christ than both the former, when he considered that after all his sufferings and reproaches few would regard. O this was a bitter ingredient; naturally men desire, if they cannot be delivered, yet to be pitied: it is a kind of ease, even to find some regard among the sons of men; it shows that they wish us well, and that they would give us ease if they could; but, oh, when it comes to this, that a poor wretch is under many sufferings and great shame; and that he finds none so much as to regard all this: now, verily,’ it is a heavy case, and hence was Christ’s complaint, ” Have ye no regard, O all ye that pass by the way? Consider and behold, if ever there was sorrow like unto my sorrow, which was done unto me, wherewith the Lord hath afflicted me in the days of his fierce anger,” Lam. 1:12, Christ complains not of the sharp pains he endured; but he complains of this, ‘Have ye no regard?’ He cries not out, ‘Oh deliver me and save me; but Oh, consider and regard me’ q.d. All that I suffer, I am contented with, I regard it not, only this troubles me, that you will not regard; why, it is for you that endure all this, and do you look so upon it, as-if nothing at all concerned you? Suppose a prince should pay some mighty price to redeem a slave from death, and the slave should grow so desperate, as after the price paid, to throw himself upon his death, yea, with all the strength and might he hath, to offer a death upon his very redeemer. Would not this trouble? Why, thus it was, Christ is willing to redeem us with his own precious blood, but he saw many to pass by without any regard, yea, ready to trample his precious blood under their feet; and to ‘account the blood of the covenant as an unholy thing,’ Heb. 10:29. Oh! this was another spear in the heart of Christ, or a bitter ingredient in this cup.