I admit it. I am absolutely syncretistic in my speech. Wherever I live, the local accent and expressions find their way into my own. On a recent family movie night, an ancient VHS tape surfaced of a presentation I gave in 1988. Two things were notable. First, I had as many verbal ticks then as now. And second, my accent – it was positively “down home” – vintage Georgia. I am without a doubt a verbal chameleon. Yet, this is true for most of us.
The attitudes and expressions of those around us together with the images and phrases we’ve invited into our souls will bubble up to the surface of our lives through our speech. Beyond accents, inflection and expressions, movies, books and music often implant phrases into our psyche that become mainstays of our expression. Brando’s eerie mantra from Apocalypse Now – “the horror,” and Ham Porter’s refrain from The Sandlot – “you’re killin’ me Smalls,” are go-to phrases for me. But a favorite is the admonition of the Grail Knight from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade – “choose wisely!”
After navigating the “leap of faith from the Lion’s Head,” Indy enters into a shine to the Holy Grail, guarded by an ancient knight. The room is filled with different cups — elaborate and simple, some of precious metals and jewels, others of simple wood or glass. In order to save his father’s life, Indiana Jones must choose the one true Holy Grail from the vast display. But the first choice must be the right choice, for the Grail Knight warns him.
“You must choose, but choose wisely, as the true grail will bring you life and the false grail will take it from you.”
Indy must choose a cup to drink. He must drink. No other option is on the table. He must choose – and choose wisely. Life or death hangs on the choice.
We see a similar picture come into focus in Jeremiah 25. The prophet is told to take the “cup of the wine of God’s fury” and make all the nations drink from it. It is no mild vintage. It has no smooth flavor. This wine is neither light-bodied nor flavorfully rich in tannins. No hints of this or notes of that. And it does not finish well. It is hard drink. The cup of judgement. Those who drink it, drink it down to the dregs. It has no mild or pleasant effect. The drinker becomes raging drunk and violently ill. Bold drinkers think they can handle this liquor, but it reduces them to complete stupor. But what if men simply refuse this choice? What if they will not drink. Note what the Lord says.
Thus, the Lord, the God of Israel, said to me: “Take from my hand this cup of the wine of wrath, and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it…. And if they refuse to accept the cup from your hand to drink, then you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts: You must drink!’”Jeremiah 25:15, 28
Not to drink is not an option. And there is no milder vintage. But is there another cup? The cup is a common picture of God’s judgment in the Bible. But scripture reveals a remarkable promise — that God, himself, will graciously take the cup from us.
Therefore hear this, you who are afflicted,Isaiah 51:21-22
who are drunk, but not with wine:
Thus says your Lord, the Lord,
your God who pleads the cause of his people:
“Behold, I have taken from your hand the cup of staggering;
the bowl of my wrath you shall drink no more;
But what is more, God himself, in the person of Jesus Christ, drinks our cup for us.
Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, … he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” …Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.”Matthew 26:36-42
And then He gives us another cup, a different cup – the cup of blessing which we bless.
Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”Matthew 26:26-28
Jeremiah was told to take the cup of the wine of the wrath of God and to make all the nations drink of it. But there is another cup. For those who choose wisely — who trust in Christ, not in themselves, who acknowledge God’s righteous judgment of sin, yet plead for His mercy upon sinners, there is the cup of blessing. The Grail Knight spoke more than he knew when he cautioned, “choose, but choose wisely, as the true grail will bring you life and the false grail will take it from you.” What cup will you choose? The cup of the fury of God’s wrath? Or the cup of Christ?
Join us this Lord’s Day, September 6, as we examine Jeremiah 25:15-38 and consider the choice God sets before us between grace and judgement. We meet on the square in Pottsville, right next to historic Potts’ Inn at 10:30 am for worship. Get directions here or contact us for more info. Or join us on Facebook Live @PottsvilleARP