The Cups of the Lord

Two cups are presented to us as followers of Christ.

The Celtic Revival: Patrick (17)

Because of this, for all that He bestowed
on me, and all the kindnesses He showed
me, I’ll repay Him with my life, though there
is nothing I can say, no promise dare
hope to fulfill, unless He gives to me
the power to do it. Let the Savior see
into my inner being: For greatly I
desire that I might drink His cup and die
for Him, as others have who loved Him.

  - Patrick, Confession (5th century)[1]

What shall I render to the LORD
for all His benefits toward me?
I will take up the cup of salvation,
And call upon the name of the L

  - Psalm 116.12, 13

But Jesus answered and said, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They said to Him, “We are able.”

  - Matthew 20.22

It must have saddened Patrick, now near the end of his earthly sojourn, to have to write this Confession explaining and defending his ministry. He had come to Ireland in response to God’s call, and all he had done for those many years was in order to further the Gospel, bless the Irish people, and glorify God. Now, at the end of his life, he only wanted to die as he had lived – serving God, being filled with His fullness and emptying himself as a poured-out draught of grace to the people around him.

Patrick called upon the Savior to see into his “inner being.” He submitted his motives, desires, and aspirations to Jesus, for he knew that He would judge him fairly and truly. The bishops and other clergy in Britain may not have been satisfied by Patrick’s deposition, but that was a matter of no consequence to him. He was not subject to them, and he did not consider them qualified to judge his motives or his work.

His Confession was written to the people he served in Ireland, who would have recognized the truth of it.

Toward the end of his Confession, Patrick expressed the desire to keep on serving the Lord until his death. He hoped he might be able to die as a martyr, for he knew there were many in Ireland who were ready to enslave or kill him. Jesus had asked the disciples if they were prepared to drink such a cup. They said they were, and Patrick echoed that conviction.

While he lived, he would drink the cup of salvation, seeking daily to grow in the Lord, to be more faithful to and fruitful for Him, and to increase in the great salvation Christ had given him (Heb. 2.3). The more he drank the cup of salvation, the readier he would be to accept the martyr’s cup, should that be given to him.

The Lord offers us two cups to quench the thirst in our souls. The cup of salvation can fortify us for the cup of martyrdom. If we will not drink the one, we will turn from the other when push comes to shove in our witness for Christ.

What motivates us in this life? As Christ looks into our souls – to discover the content of our thinking, the disposition of our hearts, and the priorities of our will – will He find us drunk with His salvation, and ready to endure for Him whatever this world might throw at us? If we will not drink the cup of salvation each day, abiding in the Word of Christ, communing with Him in prayer and meditation, and walking in obedience to His every Word, we will run from the cup of martyrdom, though the form in which it may come to us be ever so slight.

But if, like Patrick, we daily render to the Lord our thanks and praise, and daily imbibe of His great salvation, yielding control of our lives to Christ and the Gospel, we will have no fear of men or what they might think or say or do. And if it comes to drinking the cup of martyrdom, the cup of salvation will prepare us for it, just as it did the disciples and Patrick.

Are you able?

Psalm 116. 7-14 (Mit Freuden Zart: All Praise to God Who Reigns Above)
Full well the Lord has dealt with me; my soul from death He delivered.
My weeping eyes, my stumbling feet, He has redeemed forever.
Forever I before His face shall walk with those who know His grace,
And dwell with them forever.

Afflicted, I believe His Word, though lying men would undo me.
What shall I render to the Lord for all His blessings to me?
Salvation’s cup I lift above and call upon the God of love
And pay my vows most truly.

I will drink the cup of salvation today and every day, O Lord, so that I…

The Legacy of Patrick
Patrick made a lasting impact on Ireland and Europe, igniting a revival that lasted for nearly four centuries. He has left for us a legacy of priorities which we can appropriate for our own walk with and work for the Lord. Order your copy of The Legacy of Patrick from our online store (click here).

Like Patrick, we depend on the Lord to support our ministry, which He does through friends who pray for us and share their gifts with us, as the Lord leads. As you pray today, ask the Lord whether He might use you to support this work. You can do so by clicking the Contribute buttonat our website, or by sending your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 19 Tyler Drive, Essex Junction, VT 05452. Thank you.

T. M. Moore

All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

[1]Verse translation excerpts of Patrick’s Confession from T. M. Moore, Celtic Flame (forthcoming).The Celtic Revival: Patrick (17)

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT. 

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