Passover is full of ancient Jewish symbolism orchestrated in such a way to remind the Jewish people of God’s deliverance of the Israelites from the bondage of Egypt. If you’ve never celebrated a Passover Seder, I’d encourage you to find out where one is being held near you and attend. The Passover Seder will certainly enrich your walk with the Lord.
Jewish tradition that can be traced back even prior to Christ records that the Jews drank from four cups of wine during the Passover meal. Each of the four cups have a special name attached to them and act as fence posts holding together the seders sequence of events. The four cups are connected to sections of Exodus 6:6 and 6:7:
“Say, therefore, to the sons of Israel, ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage. I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. Then I will take you for My people, and I will be your God; and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.”
These two verses are called the “I will” passages, where God explains to Moses his course of action and reminds Moses he’s simply a servant. It’s the Lord who will complete the divine task of delivering the Israelites. We’re going to take a look at the meaning behind these four cups that are taken during the Passover Seder both then and now.
Cup of Sanctification:
The Passover Seder starts with the drinking of the first of four cups or wine. The first cup is called the Cup of Sanctification. The Cup of Sanctification is connected to Exodus 6:6 where the Lord tells Moses, “I will bring you out.”
The word “sanctification” is associated with the idea of being set apart and being made holy. Here in the book of Exodus the Lord promises the Israelites that He is going to separate them from the Egyptian empire and make them a special and holy people to be used for His purposes and glory (read Exodus 19:5,6).
The Cup of Sanctification is something that is very applicable to the Christian life today. Just as God separated His people from the Egypt, Jesus has separated the believer from this world, “… If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, I chose you out of the world”. Believers have been set aside, made holy, and sanctified by the blood of Christ. The writer of Hebrews says, “Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate.” (Heb. 13:12).
Cup of Praise:
As the Passover celebration continues the second cup of wine appears to remind the Jewish people to praise God, hence the name of the second cup is the Cup of Praise. The Cup of Praise is associated with the section in Exodus 6:6, “I will bring you out from under the burdens of Egypt.”
For more than 400 years the Israelites lived in the land of Egypt, and for a majority of those years they were considered slaves. The Israelites, who were once promised a land of their own, were forced to live in Egypt and build an empire that was not their own. They worked tirelessly doing backbreaking work probably wondering if the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had abandoned them. And then God called Moses and told him to tell the weary and worn Israelites, “I will bring you out from under the burdens of Egypt.” Those words alone should have caused every Israelite to jump out of their seats and PRAISE God for this amazing promise of freedom from the oppression of Egypt.
As Christians we cannot overlook the significance of the Cup of Praise. Just as God freed the Israelites from the control of the Egyptians, Christ released the believer from the bondage of sin. Paul tells us that for the believer, “sin shall not be a master over you” (Romans 6:14). We have been set free from shackles of Satan to live a life of freedom in Christ. As believers we should Praise God for His grace and mercy toward us. So lets “Praise Him for His mighty deeds; Praise Him according to His excellent greatness” (Psalms 150:2).
Cup of Redemption:
The Gospel writers really take the time to focus in on this particular cup of the Passover seder Jesus celebrated with His disciples. According to Scriptures the Cup of Redemption becomes the cup that Jesus will connect to His shed blood.
You have to imagine being in the upper room that evening as Jesus was leading His dear friends and followers, the disciples, through the Passover seder. I’m sure the disciples had their Passover routine down. As decent Jewish men the disciples would have celebrated Passover every year and many of them were probably over the age of thirty so they knew the drill. The disciples knew every element of the seder, and each elements meaning. Until Jesus gets to the Cup of Redemption.
Typically the disciples would have associated the third cup with Exodus 6:6, “I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.” However, Jesus stops them and applies a new meaning to the cup. In the same way the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob used the Passover Lamb to redeem the Israelites from the bondage of Egypt… Jesus’ shed blood would redeem those who believe in Him by His shed blood.
Cup of Acceptance:
As the Passover seder comes to a close the last cup that is taken is called the Cup of Acceptance which is connected to Exodus 6:7, “Then I will take you for My people, and I will be your God; and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.” Did you know Jesus rejected this cup during the seder, His Last Supper!
Directly after Jesus takes the third cup of the seder, the Cup of Redemption, Jesus says these profound words… “But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” Jesus rejection of the fourth cup actually makes sense. The passage connected to the cup, Exodus 6:7, highlights that as a result of God setting apart, removing, and delivering Israel from Egypt they would have an intimate relationship and God would accept them to Himself.
But what happens when the people reject God? Sadly, Israel never accepted Jesus as the promised Messiah so Jesus turned down the last cup. But notice, all is not lost. The Passover is designed to look ahead prophetically as well as look to the past. Even though Jesus denied the Cup of Acceptance He did promise to the disciples that He would drink it, “new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”
There is coming a day, a glorious day, when Jesus will accept the nation of Israel and the people of Israel will accept Jesus as King!