The Marriage Cup
During Biblical times, a young man who wanted to marry would go with his father to the chosen woman's house to meet her and her father. They'd negotiate a steep "bride price", the money or physical items that the woman's father would ask for in exchange for giving up his valuable daughter.
Then, the young man's father would hand his son a cup of wine. The son, in turn, would offer it to the woman and say, "This cup I offer to you." In effect he was saying, "I love you and I offer you my life. Will you marry me"? If she drank it (sealing their engagement), she accepted his life and gave him hers. If not, she simply declined.
The Passover Cup
During the Passover liturgy of Jesus' day, participants would drink from four cups of wine at different times. The third cup was called the cup of salvation.
While celebrating the Passover with his disciples in the Upper Room, Jesus offered them the cup of salvation and said, "This cup is a new covenant in my blood." He was saying, in effect, "I love you. I give you my life. Will you marry me?"
Every time we drink from the communion cup and hear the words, "This cup is a new covenant of my blood," God is saying to us, "I love you. I invite you to be my spiritual bride." And every time we drink it, we are in effect saying to him, "I accept your gift, and I give you my life in return."
The Cup that Jesus Drank
Jesus asked his Father the night before he died, "If it is possible, may this cup be taken from me" (Matt. 26:39). He knew the high price he would have to pay to purchase his bride and become our spiritual husband.