The Cup of Blessing Which We Bless
by Henry Dyer
Now there is another emblem upon the table of our Lord besides the loaf, namely, the cup; and I would turn you this morning to some of the teaching which comes from that cup. We are by no means to think that the cup is thus used only as a grand finish, an appropriate appendage to the broken loaf. It is the same in teaching in one respect, namely, both teach the preciousness of the love of Jesus in dying for us. But though, thus both alike, yet they differ, and therefore, of course, both are on the table. If you mean they are the same in what they represent, they are, but in different aspects. To Israel of old the manna, dropping itself over these twelve square miles—its little morsels over the whole area—reminds us of every crumb of this precious bread; no virtue in the loaf, but every crumb big with meaning. Did it come down to you from heaven as oil, sweet as honey, through the cooling cloud? That is what the bread seems to imply. But there was another thing for Israel; that is, the smitten rock, which poured out from its depths an increasing stream. And there was life in the manna and life in the water, but their teaching is different. The one which was spread out over all their busy tents, had to do with the surface of their necessities; but the other came from unfathomable depths. If this bread has been teaching us through the week that there was not one of my wanderings but what He died for it; and we can confess to greater preciousness in it, as we have had to do with the activities of redeemed life; surely I need also to think of the depths from which I have been redeemed.
But let us read the scriptures. 1 Cor. xi. 23. "For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which He was betrayed, took bread. . . . After the same manner also He took the cup; when He had supped, saying, this cup is the new covenant"—(the covenant pointed to our heart within, "I will put My law in their hearts,")—in My blood; this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of Me." The very fact of the double use of the word "remembrance," implies that there are two acts of remembering Him. And now let us look at this second aspect. Be assured, dear younger saints, that the Lord who loves you, looks to see you profit by the second as you did by the first. Here are we in His guest-chamber, and He looks into the soul of every guest, and says to my soul and to yours, "Oh My guest, hast thou supped well?" He knows the anxieties of hospitality, He is our Host, and would ask thus of all who take of His supper. What had you to say as you sat in your seat? "Hast thou supped well?" First, upon the bread; did you bless Him that not a single wandering or outward sinfulness, but you know that He died for it? Have you relished that? But you cannot, except you have a quickened apprehension that abhors the steps of sin. "I know I have failed in this or in that; Lord Thou hast died for it and 'tis put away," and so every crumb of bread teaches a mighty lesson. But what about the other part? There are two aspects in the precious death of Christ for me and for you. One is for our sins in all their countlessness and aggravated weight; "He gave Himself for our sins." But another is that, "He was made sin for us," sin in the singular, sin in its very essence. He had it not in Him, but it was laid upon Him. Now both aspects are for our souls apprehension. And even when we do not wander in the precious moments of nearness to God, when we are bearing the fruits of the Spirit against which there is no law and every step of our path yields precious fruit, the very while that we are bearing that fruit we carry within us a desperately wicked heart, and have to say "in my flesh dwelleth nothing good;" and that is never more a sorrow than when we are walking most closely with God; then it is that we cry out against the sinfulness of our nature—
"Weak is the effort of my heart,
And cold my warmest thought;"
Call it cold because you know the hard evil nature in you at the time, and blame yourself because you could not bring a better.
"But when I see Thee as Thou art,
I'll praise Thee as I ought."
Let us never forget at the supper that we are not only indebted to Him for bearing all our sins, but for having been made sin for us. "Made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." We have both of these in Isaiah liii. In verse 6 we have this, "All we, like sheep, have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the Lord hath made to meet on Him the iniquity of us all." In all their numerousness, the actual sins of us all; answering to Christ having died for our sins. But go on to verse 10. "Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him;" and from that bruising came the costly wine of this cup. "He hath put Him to grief; when Thou shalt make His soul,"—not His body only, nay, but—"when Thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin," (not sins), "He shall see His seed," He shall have you above one day without sin in you. Now this completes the blessedness of this precious feast. Not only the outside wanderings put away, but the inside sinfulness remembered upon the solemn cross.
Turn again to Romans vii. and viii. At the end of chapter vii., after he has thanked God as a liberated man, confessing that in himself—that is, in his flesh—there was nothing good, "O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? So then, with the mind"—he has handled the outside sins, now what about the inside sinfulness?—"so then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, and am pouring out my happy heart to God; but with the flesh the law of sin." But what do we go on with? "There is, therefore, now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus." Not even on account of this indwelling sin. Why? "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh," it could not change the hearts of Israel, because they were innately sinful—"God, sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh"—in all the poverty and weakness of Adam's race—"and for sin"—not sins mark—that was settled in chapter v.—"condemned sin in the flesh," gave it all its due. Upon Christ was laid all that was due to my wicked heart, as well as all that could burden Him in my wicked life; "condemned" in the Person of my blessed Master.
And now we come to the precious meaning out of the depth of the cup. Made sin for me, that as a guest at the table, my cold-heartedness may not banish me from it. Mephibosheth was at the house of Saul till David called him; but nothing could change Mephibosheth's diseased feet, and if he came at all he must bring them. He could quit the house of Saul,—his outside life; but he must bring his feet. But David did not banish him from the table for that, but made him as one of the King's sons. You are mourning your coldness, that you so little love; Jesus died for that coldness. Thus is there a double emblem at the table, for the double aspect of Jesus' dying; Who not only bore all my wanderings but was "made sin." Oh, if you would fathom ocean, fathom this depth of the death of Jesus! One of God's natural parables is that ocean is deep as the mountains are high; the height of my sinfulness is met by the unfathomable depths of His death for me. Therefore it seems the deeper the cup the more solemn the teaching. Who shall say he knows the depth of iniquity in his wicked heart? Gentle Jeremiah says that the heart is desperately wicked, inconceivably so. That deceitfulness baffles you and me; it never baffled God or Jesus at the cross. God measured what to you or me is fathomless. Thus, if for any folly of last week, I say Jesus had to die, then let that keep me from such folly this week, for the sake of His dear death. Was I foolish last Monday and Jesus had to die for it; shall I not ask Him to keep me from it next Monday. Therefore all the remembrance of how He died for my sins, is to strengthen me, to keep me from such sins; bread to strengthen the heart of man. Let the spiritual bread teach us to deal with the activities of spiritual life. But the sinful heart is never eradicated; therefore the cup is not to strengthen but to cheer, that we will be rid of it so soon. The bread to strengthen me for the contest with sin, the cup to cheer me as a mourner that sin is in me, till that one blessed moment which makes me like Him. "Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted," on that morning of the resurrection. So Solomon in his proverbs, cautions against giving wine to any but the poor in trouble. "It is not for kings, O Lemuel! it is not for kings to drink wine, nor for princes strong drink; lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted." Now this is just exactly what Paul says to the Corinthian saints. Why were they behaving badly at the supper? They were living in luxury as kings, bringing all their lordly self-will to the table, and behaving in high mindedness. "We toil in the desert, and ye lie idle upon your couches." "It is not for kings to drink wine." Oh may we never come in this lordly manner of self-will to take this cup! "Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts;" and there is a sense in which saints delight to call themselves heavy-hearted till Jesus comes. "Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more." "Oh Lord, my love is so poor!" "Forget its poverty, and drink of My cup." "Oh what can I bring? 'tis such a scanty feast for Thee!'' "Forget thy poverty, and drink of the cup I have provided for thee."
Oh then, remember the two-fold love, which not only meets you so that there is no condemnation for outside things, or for the coldness of heart within. The moment you bewail it, He puts the cup in your hand to gladden your heart. "I know it all," says Jesus, "It cost Me much; and as I have borne all the sinfulness of thy outer wanderings, I fathomed the depth of the unfathomable wickedness of that wandering heart." Child of God, thou art never more blessed below than when saying, "Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth; for Thy love is better than wine." Ah! 'tis a banquet, a foretaste of the two-fold banquet above. The moment He shouts you up you shall have lips that never say a sinful word, a voice with no tone of unhallowed harshness, eyes that can never flash a passionate look. And He had to die for all, for the unhallowed word and the idleness. But not only that; He tells us that He was made sin for us, and gives us His cup of joy. But another joy is awaiting me. Not only resurrection lips, and resurrection hands for my harp; but one other bliss beyond all—not to have sin in me. It will not exist. Pure as God is pure, as Christ is pure.
Two aspects, then, of Christ's death; two emblems to set forth that death; two joys when Jesus shouts you home. Now are we always in danger of sin; hence He gives not only the bread to strengthen, but the cup to make glad, and glad for ever.