Summary: “And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them saying, ‘this is my body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ Likewise He also took the cup after supper saying, ‘this cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is shed f
Luke 22:14-22 Theme: The blood of the new covenant
Text: Luke 22:14-22
Today is worldwide communion day and to celebrate our unity in the Body of Christ we have gathered from various congregations in the district to partake of the Holy Communion. The communion, using the elements of bread and wine, which signify the Body and Blood of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, is a reminder and memorial of Jesus’ perfect life on earth and His death on the cross. It is a reminder of the forgiveness of sins and everlasting life. We need to be reminded less we forget as Pharaoh did – he forgot Joseph and what he had done for Egypt and enslaved his descendants. We need to be reminded less we forget what Christ has done for us, less we forget how His body was broken and how His blood was shed. We need to be reminded less we forget His agony in Gethsemane when His sweat became blood. We need to be reminded less we forget the cruel beatings, the crown of thorns, the pulling out of His beard, the brutal scourging, the nails driven through His hands and feet, and the spear thrust into His side. We need to be reminded less we forget that He laid down His life for the sins of all mankind. We need to be reminded less we forget that our relationship with God is based on a New Covenant in His blood. If His first disciples, who were first hand witnesses, needed to observe the Communion, then we also need to do so as a reminder of what Christ endured to pay for our sins. We need to remember because everything we have as Christians is centred in Christ’s death – centred in the blood of the New Covenant.
The blood of Jesus Christ ushers us into the New Covenant. The basis on which God makes a covenant is always a sacrifice. Without a sacrifice there can be no covenant and wherever there is a sacrifice there must be the shedding of blood. We all know that the Bible has come to us in the form of two covenants or testaments, the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Covenant between God and Israel was dedicated with the blood of sacrificed animals. As a result of this covenant God delivered Israel from bondage in Egypt and when Israel became a nation God gave them the Law as part of the covenant. The covenant bound God to His Word and Israel to the terms of the covenant. The New Testament is a new covenant, a new agreement, and a new promise ratified, enacted and sealed in the blood of Jesus Christ. Without shedding His blood there was no possible way Jesus could have established a new covenant between God and man. Under the Old Covenant only one man could approach God in the Holy of Holies once a year. This took place on the Day of Atonement. On that day the Jewish High Priest, after many washings and purifications and with the blood of sacrificed animals, went into the Holy of Holies where he sprinkled the blood on the mercy seat to make atonement for his sins and the sins of the nation. This only covered the sins of the nation for one year and had to be repeated yearly. This is the reason why the High Priest never sat down while performing the ceremony. In the foreknowledge of God all this was designed to foreshadow what was to be accomplished by the single all sufficient sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ after offering His blood sat down at the Father’s right hand signifying that no sacrifice would ever be needed again. The blood of Christ had accomplished eternal redemption for all mankind.
If the Old Covenant had been perfect there would have been no need for a New Covenant. As our High Priest, Christ has a much more excellent ministry to God than the High Priest under the Old Covenant. He does not offer the blood of bulls and goats, which cannot take away sin. Instead He pleads our case to the Father on the merit of His own blood. The New Covenant is better than the old because it was enacted with the eternal blood of Jesus Christ. Under the New Covenant all believers may come into the presence of God at all times. When the blood of the New Covenant was shed, the veil in the Temple separating unholy man from a Holy God was torn from top to bottom. This showed that the rending was an act of God and that man had been given unrestricted access to God.
To understand the new covenant we have to understand the meaning of the Passover meal. The disciples were aware of the implications of this meal, as they had often participated in it. During the meal the children would ask the father certain questions and he would answer their questions by telling them about how God delivered them from slavery in Egypt and led them to the Promised Land. The Passover meal commemorated Israel’s deliverance from bondage in Egypt where they had lived as slaves. Every type of food on the table had a symbolic meaning, especially the roasted lamb. It reminded them of the lambs’ blood that was smeared on the doorposts of their homes so that the death angel would pass over them and enter only the homes of the Egyptians. The blood was for their redemption as it signified that the coming judgement had already been carried out on the sacrificed lambs. The Israelites also had to eat every part of the roast lamb before they started their journey into freedom. This meal was for healing and strength. They were strengthened and there was not one feeble person among them. The meal reminded them of God’s salvation and deliverance from slavery in Egypt. The institution of the Communion was to remind them of a greater deliverance – deliverance from slavery to sin and its penalty. As the blood of the lamb saved the Israelites, so the blood of Christ saves us. In the Communion we are partaking of the New Covenant. The wine signifies the blood of Christ shed for our redemption and the bread typifies His body to be eaten for healing and strength. Just as with the Jewish Passover meal God strengthened and sustained the people for their pilgrimage to the Promised Land so in the Holy Communion believers are nourished and strengthened for their spiritual journey.