In Genesis 40, we find Joseph in prison. And as the story evolves,
we meet two new characters, the chief cupbearer and
Genesis 40:14 The chief cupbearer; however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him. Genesis 40:23
I don't blame the chief cupbearer, we all forget things and people who have influenced our lives. He wanted to be restored and was eager to regain his duties. He was a servant to the king and aspired to serve. According to this story, his specific role was to "put Pharaoh's cup in his hand," and we certainly all want and need our cups in our hands. Perhaps this was a specific historical occupation of which we're unfamiliar! But, I daresay the cup of the king was important. It was so important that a position was created just for the care of this cup.
Interestingly, hundreds of years later, we find Jesus also wanted to discuss the cup of our lives. And maybe this is our cup for this week of Lent.
Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons [James and John] and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him.
“What is it you want?” he asked.
She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.”
“You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?”
“We can,” they answered. Matthew 20:20-22What does this mean? What is the implication of Jesus' question, "can you drink the cup I am going to drink?" In the disciples zealousness they quickly answered, YES. But...how easy is it to drink the same cup Jesus drank?
Several years ago, Henri Nouwen wrote a beautiful book entitled, Can you Drink the Cup? Nouwen wrote that the cup that Jesus speaks about is a symbol of life, filled with sorrows and joys that we can hold, lift, and drink as a blessing and a way to salvation. "Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?" Jesus asks us. It is the question that will have a different meaning every day of our lives. Can we embrace fully the sorrows and joys that come to us day after day? At one moment it might seem so easy to drink the cup, and we give a quick yes to Jesus' question. Shortly afterwards everything might look and feel quite different, and our whole being might cry out, "No, never!" We have to let the yes and the no both speak in us so that we can come to know ever more deeply the enormous challenge of Jesus' question. Henri Nouwen, Can you Drink the Cup?
This question from the mother of James and John was one of hope. She hoped her sons would achieve success which is the heart of every mom. She didn't realize the full extent of her request. But the more James, John and you and me learn about Jesus, we learn about being a servant instead of a master. We learn to love when we'd like to hate. We learn to seek last place instead of first place. We learn that drinking His cup is hard. We learn that being the cupbearer is not important for our own accomplishments but is only important in service to the King.
Is it an old cup filled with old, old ways and memories? Is a cup of newness as you seek all the new ways of our God? Is it a chipped cup? Is your cup cracked? Is it missing a handle? Is your cup overflowing to others in your life? Is your cup faded as your life journey has been oh, so long? We went around the small circle of ten sharing our answers. And then it was a father's turn to speak. He and his wife had the youngest children in the group. This man of God was quiet and reserved most of his comments. But on this day his answer rattled me...he said, "my cup is a sippy cup. I can only dare to take small sips as a really big drink would scare me. And I'm not sure I'm ready for what that would mean."
I agree, my friend. Often times, I prefer to not even take a drink or at the very most to use a sippy cup. It's safe. But He offers us so much more...do we dare to drink?
What type of cup are you holding in your life?