Why Every Christian Needs a Red Solo Cup

April 16, 2012 | 26 comments



It’s just a cup, a Red Solo cup. I turn it in my hands.

I know what the country-music song says about the Red Solo Cup. I’ve heard the lyrics. And I know how the irreverent song has transformed a silly plastic cup into an icon, the college drinker’s chalice of choice.

But I know of a better cup, the original cup, the only Red Solo Cup that has really ever mattered.


“Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
— Matthew 26:39


This was the one cup that changed the course of human history. And there was only one Man — going solo — who could drink it down straight.  It ran red for all of us, for all time, an infinite payment for an unfathomable debt.

This was the Red Solo Cup of the only God who has ever loved sinners, the cup of a man who befriended wretches, and who was pinned to a cross for the unloveable — me among them. This was the cup of a man who adores the weak, who drank down the wrath and willingly died for a bunch of ragged people who continually mess up.

Humans have manufactured all kinds of gods, and we’ve raised frothy cups in honor of them all. Here’s the truth: None of those manmade gods would have ever voluntarily died for their followers, even if they could.

But Jesus.

I hold this plastic cup in my hand, and am deeply moved to remember Christ in the Garden, and then later, hanging on the cross, while his friends scatter into shadows.

He went solo.

And the whole stream of mankind’s sin ran red down that hill, a crimson river that still runs today.

My heart swells with rapturous gratitude as I type these words here just now. The letters blur; I shake my head.

I think of the ways that my heart is an idol factory, and how I push Jesus off to the corner, in search of replacement gods to fill my cup. I have long suffered from the sins of the self: self-indulgence, self-image, selfishness.

Just now, I remember the famous Thomas Chalmers sermon, in which he said it like this: “The only way to dispossess the heart of an old affection is by the expulsive power of a new one.”

I dump the cup of the self, a necessary expulsion. Only in the emptying, can we refill. I receive once again this: Christ’s incomparable sacrifice in taking the cup, once and for all, and for me.


Oh Lord Jesus, fill my cup with your Holy Spirit. Evict all the things that compete for the throne of my heart. Forgive me, for all the ways I try to dazzle with my good deeds or moral pursuits. Thank You for taking the cup for me — an unfathomable display of Your love. I am bowed low by the way You alone shed forgiveness over the whole broken lot of us. In Your incomparable name, I pray. … Amen.


“I gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally, experience his resurrection power, be a partner in his suffering, and go all the way with him to death itself.”
— Philippians 3:10 (MSG)

With Michelle today …

UPDATE: Found this today over at The High Calling.“Drinking the Cup of Judgment” by Mark D. Roberts. He says it much more eloquently than I. He writes: “Jesus did in fact drink the cup of judgment. He drank it for you and for me, so that, in the mystery of God’s grace, we might drink from the cup of salvation. This is the wonder of the Gospel, the good news that changes everything, beginning with our relationship with God, and touching every part of life.”

UPDATE II: Consider this video by Paul Baloche, about this God who calls us all by name, calling us all to the cross. It’s a video filled with Red Solo Cups …  (HT: John Blase)

by | April 16, 2012 | 26 comments


  1. r.ellott

    beautiful job redeeming the red solo cup…I love…love the picture… blessings as we dump the cup of self at the foot of the cross.

    • dukeslee

      Yes, friend! Redeeming the cup, indeed. Isn’t it something, that in this great big world, there is nothing beyond redemption?

      Thinking now, of the Last Supper and the four cups of the Passover. Thinking now, of that Cup of Redemption that Jesus Christ passed to the disciples. And how all of those four cups held brand new meaning, in the hands of the Lord Jesus Christ.

  2. Beth E.

    Beautiful post, Jennifer. It reminds me of the song, “Fill My Cup”…

    Like the woman at the well I was seeking
    For things that could not satisfy;
    But then I heard my Savior speaking:
    “Draw from the well that never shall run dry”.

    Fill my cup Lord, I lift it up, Lord!
    Come and quench this thirsting of my soul;
    Bread of heaven, Feed me till I want no more–
    Fill my cup, fill it up and make me whole!

    Blessings to you, my friend…

    • dukeslee

      Yes, Father, make me whole. Thank you for sharing a song that I haven’t heard in a very long time. Reminds me of my growing-up years in the Methodist Church of Marathon, Iowa.

      I’ll be headed your way later today, Beth, to read the post you referenced in the email.

  3. Nancy Franson

    “I think of the ways that my heart is an idol factory, and how I push Jesus off to the corner, in search of replacement gods to fill my cup.” Yes, exactly.

    This was so beautiful, Jennifer, that I forgive you for getting that song stuck in my head!

    • dukeslee


      Yes, that was one of the risks of writing this post. I actually did second-guess this one, Nancy, whether it would somehow offend. Or annoy! 🙂

      Thanks for being here, for listening. Love you.

      • Lyla Lindquist

        Counting myself fortunate today that I don’t know this song. Didn’t you just recently get another one stuck in my head? 😉

        This is the thing, though. Seeing his work in these common implements of life. He did the same thing. We seem to comprehend better with these tangible things we can hold in our hand.

        I’m grateful he held this one, drank it down.

  4. Lyli@3dLessons4Life

    Thanks for reminding me that I have to empty my cup of self before He can fill it.

    • dukeslee

      I need that self-reminder daily — an ever-present antidote to the self-sins. Thank you, Lyli, for being here.

  5. Michelle DeRusha

    Powerful post, Jennifer. And man, you can get miles out of a simple metaphor. Love that.

    • dukeslee

      LOL! Probably too many miles, actually! I kind of got on a soapbox today — more than 500 words on a plastic cup! 🙂

      Here’s the thing: I get to thinking about that cross, and that sacrifice, and I just can’t stop. Humbling, humbling sacrifice. Brings me to tears. Every time.

  6. Susan

    Wow…this was excellent!! Loved your idea.

    So nice to meet you. Love your blog too.

    Hope your day is blessed!

  7. Amy Sullivan

    Relating the Red Solo Cup to Jesus…yep, I’m pretty sure He’s smiling at that one.

  8. Michelle Eichner

    I don’t know the solo cup song, but I love your analogy. I resonated with the emptying of self (open handed, right?! :-)) but not just empty self, FILL UP with Him. That was one of the great intentions of our fasting time. Not just fasting, but FEASTING in His presence. Thanks for the reminder.

  9. John

    Jennifer, if you get a chance check out Paul Baloche’s new single – The Same Love – the video resonates with your post…you’ll see, its impossible to miss…its on YouTube.

    • dukeslee

      John … Thank you for this. I’ve added the song to the post.

  10. Deidra

    Redeemed. Not just recycled. Nope. Redeemed!

  11. Sandra Heska King

    I will never see or hold a red Solo cup the same again. You do me in. Every. Time.

  12. Sherrey Meyer

    I’ll never look at or hold a red Solo cup the same again. All I can say is, “WOW!”

  13. Michele

    This was a great post!!

  14. Wendy Dickens

    You have been blessed with a beautiful gift Jennifer. Thank you for using it to minister to my soul! 🙂

  15. Diane Bailey

    Great job! Taking something we all have, or use all of the time, to point to Christ! Way to go!

  16. Jelli

    Great post! What a great analogy to a simple red solo cup. I know what I’ll be thinking about next time I see one.

  17. Tabitha

    I haven’t commented in awhile, but please know I never stopped reading your words. This was expressed so beautifully and it just shows how God continuously inspires your writing.

  18. Denise J. Hughes

    I’ve not heard the contemporary song, but I love this post. What a powerful analogy. He drank from the cup of suffering. And He did it solo. I am humbled every time I think about His sacrifice.


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