The Cup of Salvation

I will take up the cup of salvation, And call upon the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows to the Lord Now in the presence of all His people. (Psalm 116:13–14, NKJV)

In His last meal, Jesus and His disciples celebrated the Passover Seder (Mark 14:12), including four cups of wine and the singing of six psalms, two before the feast (Psalms 113–114) and four following the meal (Psalms 115–118). Psalm 116 marks out the third cup of wine—the cup of salvation.

After singing the last of these psalms, Jesus led His disciples down the Kidron Valley and then up the hill festooned with olive trees, the Mount of Olives. A massive press loomed in the orchard; hence, Gethsemane, “oil press.” Rendering oil by crushing and grinding olives was a suitable symbol for the wrenching, agonizing suffering of the Anointed in the darkness of the orchard.

Despite the solid trajectory of Jesus’s lifetime decision to obey the Father by sacrifice of Himself (Hebrews 10:5–7), there were moments in the orchard when even He wavered. He wept. He perspired. He agonized. Unexpectedly, He whispered to Abba, Father, “All things are possible for You. Take this cup away from me” (Mark 14:36). His right hand was likely raised high above His prone body as though He were holding the wine cup—the cup He had raised while singing the words of Psalm 116.

But now He said, “Take it away!”

Heaven must have hushed. Take away the cup? This was why He was born! This is the meaning of the Incarnation. Horror surged as a storm through angelic ranks.

Then our Savior thought back to the vow He had just renewed in the singing of Psalm 116. He had sung, “I will take up the cup of salvation . . . I will pay my vows to the Lord.”

He now said, “Nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will” (Mark 14:36).

His arm relaxed. But the cup was His again. In the orchard, our salvation was secured. And all heaven smiled.