Drink from the cup
James’ and John’s mum acted like a typical soccer mum! She wanted prominence for her sons, recognition, greatness. Jesus’ reply is somewhat strange, “Are you able to drink the cup I am to drink?”. He preceded that with “you don’t know what you are asking.” Perhaps He should have said you don’t know what I am answering!
Greatness in the kingdom is not achieved the same way as in the world. It is through the path of love, of sacrifice, of service and of suffering. Being served is not the best, being honoured isn’t greatness. We are called to follow in the Lord’s footsteps – who came not be served, but to serve and gave His life as a ransom for many.
Why mention the cup?
The Old Testament connects God’s wrath with the cup in Jeremiah 21:15 and Isaiah 51:17. In the New Testament the cup is connected with God’s wrath at the day of judgement in Rev 14:9-10. Jesus confirms that understanding in Matt 26:39. The disciples will drink a cup of suffering too, in Matt 20:23, but it is different. Jesus drank the cup of God’s wrath, so that it is gone for ever, propitiated. All of sin is dealt with in the cup that Jesus drank on the cross. Jesus became sin for us so that we’d have righteousness given to us by faith (2 Cor 5:21).
The cup we get to drink from is the cup of fellowship – it may involve suffering, but definitely not wrath. We get the sweet cup of the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. Come and drink, all you who are thirsty, the cup of fellowship with the Holy Spirit.
That thirst is demonstrated in the next paragraph by the two blind men. It was the shout that stopped God. “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David” they kept crying out, even as the crowd rebuked them. It stopped Jesus. Hunger and thirst for God gets His attention. “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked. Great question. It might have been any number of things – for them though, it was definitely their sight. And the God who loves to heal and provide for our needs gave it.