“You do not know what you’re asking. Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?” They said to him, “We can.” He replied, “My chalice you will indeed drink . . .”
In this reflection, let us turn our focus not on the physical suffering of Christ but on the spiritual suffering. Saints James and John heard Christ describe His death and were willing to go to the cross with Him. What they were not aware of, and what we can see in hindsight, was that the chalice presented was not solely filled with physical suffering. The chalice was also filled with exile.
Saint John the Apostle was “the one whom Jesus loved” (Jn 19:26) and who was Commissioned to “Go, and make disciples of all nations!” (Mt 28:19) He was also the man sent into exile on the island of Patmos (Rev. 1:9), removed from his fellow apostles and limited in the mission he was commanded to do. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mt 27:46)
Why does God do this?
Origen, an early Church father (185-254), writes that Jesus’ lament is clearly understood “when you compare the glory Christ had in the presence of the Father with the contempt he sustained on the cross.” In the same way, John was in the presence of God and laid his head on Jesus’ chest. To be exiled from his commission was the chalice of spiritual suffering that Christ endured on the cross.
As we move forward during Lent, do not be afraid of the chalice of spiritual suffering that comes from the Lord. It is to unite us more fully and perfectly with Christ who is now with His Father in heaven, awaiting us to come home to be with Him forever.
 Origen, Who Is Forsaken, 135, in Matthew, ed. Manlio Simonetti and Thomas C. Oden, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament 1B (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2001), 294.
I have exciting news to share: You can now read Missio Dei in the new Substack app for iPhone.
With the app, you’ll have a dedicated Inbox for my Substack and any others you subscribe to. New posts will never get lost in your email filters, or stuck in spam. Longer posts will never cut-off by your email app. Comments and rich media will all work seamlessly. Overall, it’s a big upgrade to the reading experience.
The Substack app is currently available for iOS. If you don’t have an Apple device, you can join the Android waitlist here.