Holy week brings with it many depictions of Christ’s passion but few capture it’s essence better than this creation of Kiefer entitled “can you drink the cup?”. The chalice, normally a thing of beauty, is seen to be sprouting thorns. The thorns remind us of those platted by the Roman soldiers to form Christ’s crown. By tying them to the chalice the sculptor takes us back to the fall, at the beginning of the Bible narrative, when the ground was cursed. The emblem of the curse was thorns which provide us with a constant reminded of Adam’s sin. This sin is our inheritance. It is the dominant characteristic of the human race. The propensity to sin is the lot of every person born to man.
Only Christ was free from sin. Only a sinless one could be the sin-bearer.
In placing the crown of thorns on Christ’s head the soldier was acting wiser than he knew. He provided us with a timeless visual illustration of the work of Christ on the cross in bearing the curse of God’s wrath.
As the poet has put it:-
“Death and the curse were in our cup:
O Christ, ’twas full for Thee!
But Thou hast drained the last dark drop,
‘Tis empty now for me:
That bitter cup, love drank it up,
Now blessing’s draught for me.”
The thorns have been pruned! The cup of suffering is not so hard to handle because Christ has triumphed over it by the resurrection from the dead. His followers have a glorious future.
The poisoned chaliced has an antidote! It is available to all who come to him believing. Christ is the cure.