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Sermon – 4/25/04
Matthew 26:27-28 - Four Cups

Friday Study Ministries

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Four Cups

Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins(Matthew 26:27-28)

For several years, we have attended annual Passover Seders in various places, and have been blessed by them. A “Seder” is a ceremonial dinner held on the first day of Passover, commemorating Israel’s Exodus from Egypt in approximately 1450 BC. People are always very willing, anxious even, to debate the meaning of things, and the various parts of the Seder have had multiple interpretations. A great theme of Passover is remembering, for the people who participate are celebrating the memory of the amazing Exodus (deliverance) of Israel from slavery in Egypt, so long ago.

Of course, the Exodus would not have happened, except God made it so. Mostly, we think of the nation Israel’s deliverance, but the Passover is even more. The Passover tells us that God is there for you and me. Whatever your problem in life, God stands ready to deliver you at just the right time. His idea of time, of course, is not like ours, for we note that Israel was in Egypt for 430 years, which was, of course, very long for them indeed.

He was with them when they were in slavery, just as He is with you, even when your circumstances in life seem impossibly difficult. Interesting parables of His presence are found within the Seder, like the “Afikomen,” a Greek phrase that was taken into the Hebrew language and has meanings, such as, “That which is coming,” or “He who is coming,” and can include, “Sent away, but returns.” At the start of the meal, three unleavened matzah crackers are placed into a cloth container that has three compartments. The center matzah, the “Afikomen,” is removed early in the meal and is broken. Half of the broken matzah is returned to its place in the container, while the other part is “hidden,” to be revealed later in the meal. It’s a not-so-subtle parable of the presence of God the Father and Holy Spirit, who were not broken, and of the Son, who was broken for the sins of the world.

It’s intriguing that the Afikomen is treated in such a manner. The Jewish Talmud asserts that it is broken “so the children (will) stay alert and not fall asleep” during the meal. But consider that the three compartments containing matzah imply God’s presence at the meal (and in your life) - The breaking of the center portion of unleavened bread points to the Messiah, Jesus Christ, who said of the Passover, “I am the bread of life” (John 6:48). Before His death at a Passover Seder (the Last Supper), Jesus, the Leader of that Seder, “took bread, blessed it and broke it, and gave it to them and said, ‘Take, eat, this is My body’” (Mark 14:22). He gave them a “picture” of Who He was and always has been, and what He would do for us – He would die for you and me.

At the Passover table, there are four cups of wine for specified times during the Seder evening. A fifth cup has been added by some, but there were four at the time of Jesus and we will discuss only them. These are the cups of wine with their various meanings: 1) “Hotzeyti” (“Vehotzeiti” – “I shall take you out,” “a bringing out”), 2) “Hitzalti” (“Vehitzalti” – “I shall rescue you;” “judgment”, “rescue from bondage”), 3) “Ga’alti” (“I shall redeem you,” “salvation”), and 4) “Lekachti” (“Velakachti,” “Taking,” “I shall take you to Me”).

God takes you out of the sin of this world through the broken body and shed blood of Jesus Christ. In the first cup, we see that He has dealt with sin and will rescue those who come to Him. It was after the second cup, the Cup of Judgment, that Judas Iscariot left the Passover Seder (the Last Supper), 2000 years ago. Those who remained took the next cup, the Cup of Salvation, and as Jesus blessed it, He said, “this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:27-28). He shed His blood for the disciples, for you, and all who have ever lived. We can be set free from sin and made right with God by trusting in the Afikomen of Israel, Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God.

The last cup, the Cup of Taking, is future to us. Those who look to Him and place their faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, will be taken up to be with Him – Forever! This is His promise and you can be with Him, if you CHOOSE to do so.

Reading a daily newspaper or watching a news broadcast, we see that something is terribly wrong with this world. We need to be changed and we need the forgiveness of God. Jesus, who said, ‘Take, eat, this is My body’” (Mark 14:22), also said, "this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:27-28). At the moment of that blessing, He held the third cup, Ga’alti aloft, the cup of redemption, of salvation. He blessed it and His disciples drank. We need to drink that cup as well.

Judas was gone from the feast and did not drink that cup, just like many in the world neglect the blessing offered in Jesus. He gave Himself in your place “for the remission of (your) sins.” “Remission” is forgiveness. We are all guilty before a holy God, who does NOT compare us with one another. He does NOT decide that some are better than others and therefore they are worthy of salvation. Rather, He who sets the rules has decreed that we are compared to God Himself. Scripture clearly states that “ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). In comparison with His holiness, ALL have missed the mark. All have failed. We are sinners before Him.

What can we do? It’s important to recognize what Jesus Christ has done for you and me. Isaiah Chapter 53 is like an x-ray of the cross, a look at what the Messiah, the Anointed One of God would do for you and me. Here are excerpts from Isaiah 53: “He has borne our grief's and carried our sorrowsHe was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquitiesby His stripes we are healedThe Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us allHis soul (is) an offering for sin… He shall bear their iniquities… He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:4-12).

This is much MORE than we ordinarily understand about the cross of Jesus Christ. He not only was our Substitute, dying in our place, but He additionally experienced (bore) our griefs and personally carried our sorrows as He was dying. He not only died for us, but He, the Innocent One, seems to have suffered the horror of each one of our sins. And note what He was doing while dying for your sins and mine – He was making “intercession” (praying) for you and me. Jesus knows your every sin intimately. You don’t need to hide who you are from Him – He already knows. Just say “Yes” to the Gift of God and you shall be saved.

Lord Jesus, I “drink” Your “cup of salvation” right now by receiving You as full payment for my sins. Help me and heal me. Set me free. Thank You. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries
Tel: (562) 688-5559
PO Box 92131
Long Beach, CA 90809-2131
"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)


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