In some military or other fraternal organizations, we often hear of a select group of elite members among them, people of surpassing excellence, people that are often proud to proclaim to be part of some special affiliation like The Fellowship of the Ring, The Fellowship of the Sword and etc. These are people who by hard work and devotion go farther in their achievements than the average fellow in the organization, with justification they feel special about reaching that extreme goal, and are pleased to have a unique fellowship with others of similar extraordinary achievement.
In Matthew 20:20-23, we learn of another special fraternity — The Fellowship of the Cup. The mother of James and John wanted her sons to have special seats of honor in God’s Kingdom and asked the Lord for this special favor. Jesus then asked these two beloved disciples if they could drink of the same cup He would drink, even though He conceded they didn’t now what they were asking. With some bravado they replied, “We can!” Then Jesus admitted they would indeed drink from the same cup as He would drink. What these two disciples did not understand was that the closer you get to Jesus and that cup He spoke of, the greater will be the trials, tribulations and most of all suffering for His Holy Name.
When Jesus started His Ministry, huge crowds followed Him and sat humbly under His Divine teaching. But, as Jesus began to speak of the suffering involved in discipleship, of daily taking up a cross of suffering for His Namesake – hundreds fell back, no longer following him except from a distance. Then as Jesus came ever closer to the horrors of Cal-vary — all but two of His disciples fell back as He left them sleeping in the Garden. Then these two of Jesus’ most loyal disciples went on with Him a bit farther, and it must have hurt Jesus to see that even they fell back, leaving Jesus to walk alone to that place of prayer and where He would face some very human fears as He looked forward to the pains of Calvary. Then, Jesus drank the cup of God’s Righteous Wrath against sin all alone, while not one disciple went all the way with Him. Sadly, The Fellowship of the Cup had but one solitary figure to drink to the depth, down to the very dregs of its suffering until it was empty.
In considering Jesus and Calvary, let us recall the moment all the sins of the world were placed upon His very human shoulders, feeling the guilt not of a general collective sin of all humanity, but being intimately aware of the guilt laid upon Him for trillions and trillions of individual sins of billions of human souls. He felt the enormous weight of guilt for every one of them as if He had committed them. He felt the sorrow for them as if He really was guilty of them all, and at this most awful moment, for the first time in His human existence – His Father Who cannot look upon sin, removed from His Son the knowledge of His Divine Presence and Love – that is the price of separation from God because of sin and Jesus had to pay this debt in full, including that terrible time of being separated from His Father and feeling utter loneliness, as will all lost souls. Then Jesus tells us of His pain at that very moment, when He said, “Reproach hath broken my heart, and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none, and for comforters, but I found none.” (Psalm 69:20) Let me paraphrase His words – I feel the weight of all the sins of the world upon my shoulders, more guilt and sorrow than any man could possibly bear, and when my Father withdrew His presence I looked among the crowd for some supporters, for someone who loved me to see if they had pity on me during this terrible trial – but there was no one there! Then I desperately looked for a touch or a word of comfort from someone who loved me – but there was no one there! Jesus was all alone on that Cross, beaten so bad that Isaiah tells us his image was so distorted he barely resembled a human being at all, hanging upon those awful nails, in agony of body and soul. For those choosing The Fellowship of the Cup, they too will experience utter loneliness, as if they alone were clinging to God, and as if the whole world hated them. This too is the fellowship of His sufferings. I remember the old Christian man about to be executed for his faith in Christ, his jailer told him that the whole world was against him in this belief, he replied, “Then I am against the whole world!” Yes, The Fellowship of the Cup at times places us where we are all alone, suffering loneliness and at these times, like Jesus we will weep and groan for the world!
The truth about Christian discipleship, without any exception is this, the farther we go with Jesus, the closer the intimacy we desire — the greater will be the suffering and pain that will come our way. So much for the Positive Confession advocates! Eventually the Twelve Disciples would all suffer in various ways and die for His Name – for they had followed Him more closely than all the others, yet none would taste the depth of suffering our Savior knew on Calvary. So it is even today, there are only a few who yearn for such intimacy with Christ that they are willing to suffer for His Name, to endure rejection, trials and tribulations solely for the honor of knowing Him more intimately – to the fullest. I am not saying all the other believers will not gain Heaven and not see God and obtain eternal life. I am saying there is always a special remnant of God’s Children who will walk farther and more closely than the rest, and they are easy to identify. They are all suffering much pain and loneliness for His Testimony; and yet in all the mounting trials and tribulations of life, increased in intensity and frequency because of the attacks of the enemy, they continually glorify God and consider all else of life; all the rewards, comforts and riches to be garbage in comparison to knowing Him and experiencing the intimacy which comes by knowing the fellowship of His sufferings.
“33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, 34 And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see. 35 Jesus wept. 36 Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him! 37 And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died? 38 Jesus there-fore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. “ John 11:33-38 KJV
Why would Jesus the very Son of God find occasion to weep and groan in deepest sorrow? He groans, being heavily burdened. He groans in sympathy with a groaning creation. He sees around him, day by day, the sad fruits of sin. He looks upon the streets of our cities and towns, having before his eyes a thousand proofs of man’s sad state of affairs. He hears on one side the wail of sorrow; on another, the cry of distress. He sees oppression, violence, corruption, strife, heartless villainy and its victims. He sees the thorn, and the briar. He notes the various disturbing forces which are abroad in the physical, the moral, and the political world. He marks the varied forms of disease and misery around him. The cry of the poor and the needy, the widow and the orphan, falls sadly upon his ear and upon his compassionate heart; and what can he do but send up from the deepest depths of his Spirit a sympathetic groan, and long for the blissful moment when “the creation itself shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the sons of God”? Look at the blessed Master Himself; didn’t he groan? Watch Him as He approached the grave of Lazarus, in company with the two weeping sisters.
“When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, and said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see. Jesus wept” (John 11:33-35).
Where did those tears and the groans come from? Wasn’t He approaching the grave of His friend as the Fountain of Life — He who quickens the dead — the Conqueror of death — the Spoiler of the grave? Why, then, did He groan? He groaned in sympathy with the objects of Divine His love, and with the whole scene around Him. His tears and groans emanated from the profound depths of His perfect human heart which felt, according to God, the true condition of the human family. He beheld around Him the varied fruits of sin. He felt for man. “In all their afflictions He was afflicted.” He was a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. He never even cured a person without bearing upon His spirit the reality of that with which He was dealing. He did not, He would not lightly bid away death, and sorrow without it bearing upon His Human heart. Isn’t it wonderful to know Jesus did and still weeps and groans in sympathy with our trials and tribulations? But, if you would be a member of The Fellowship of the Cup, surely you will find yourself daily, hourly wanting to weep and groan with Jesus, over the sins and sufferings of a troubled and dying world !
I wish more Christians, including me, would yearn more to join The Fellowship of the Cup, to willingly endure great suffering, just to be able to walk a little closer to Jesus. I hope I shall not be among the hundreds who fainted by the way, because even though they gain Heaven, in this life it will be sad if they allowed fear of suffering and lack of trust in the Lord to create distance between them and Christ – to their loss.
Submitted by David Miser