Summary: A sermon showing how the blood given to us in the Lord’s Supper is a way in which the Lord helps us to escape from this sinful world and our sinful selves.
March 24, 2005 Zechariah 9:11-12
As for you, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will free your prisoners from the waterless pit. Return to your fortress, O prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.
Almost every Disney classic presents the scenario of a captive and a hero sent to set the captive free. Cinderella had her fairy godmother. Sleeping Beauty had Prince Charming. Even the modern movie Shrek had an ugly ogre come to free the captive maiden. It makes for a good story - some fair maiden in distress waiting to be rescued from the evil prince.
Today’s text in Zechariah also talks about “prisoners” and a “waterless pit” and a “fortress” as well. Paul said in his letter to the Galatians that, “the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin.” (Ga 3:22) The picture that God’s Word draws is that we are held prisoners by our own sin - something we are born into - inherited from Adam and Eve.
Yet the Gospel - the whole message of the Passion - is that God would not allow Satan to keep us captive to death and hell. The Greatest Prince Charming would not allow us to remain captives. He would not allow the Devil to win. Just prior to today’s text, in verses 9-10, Zechariah mentions the unlikely beast of burden that the Prince would ride in on - a donkey! That’s what we looked at last Sunday. Today, on this Maundy Thursday, we change our focus to the following verses of Zechariah. I never really considered these verses, until I happened upon them somewhat by accident when doing a text study for tonight’s sermon. I thought it was interesting that it occurs RIGHT AFTER the Palm Sunday sermon text. Instead of focusing on the animal the Prince would ride, it changes focus to the WEAPON of the Prince. That weapon was blood - the blood of the covenant - the blood of God’s covenant. Therefore, this text automatically connects with the night of Jesus’ institution of the Lord’s Supper - as He also called it, “the blood of my covenant.” Tonight, as we contemplate the institution of the Lord’s Supper, we’ll see how -
The Blood Sets Us Free
In the Old Testament blood had a binding nature to it - a covenantal nature. It was used kind of like a bond - a heavenly super glue - if you would - to bind two parties together - God and man. A very visually bloody scene is presented to us on Mt. Sinai, after the presentation of the Ten Commandments to the people of Israel. It states -
When Moses went and told the people all the LORD’s words and laws, they responded with one voice, “Everything the LORD has said we will do.” Moses then wrote down everything the LORD had said. He got up early the next morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain and set up twelve stone pillars representing the twelve tribes of Israel. Then he sent young Israelite men, and they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed young bulls as fellowship offerings to the LORD. Moses took half of the blood and put it in bowls, and the other half he sprinkled on the altar. Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people. They responded, “We will do everything the LORD has said; we will obey.” Moses then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.”
As Moses splattered the blood on the people - he was covenanting the people together with the LORD. This Old Testament covenant was a two sided agreement. If the people remained faithful to God, He would in turn remain faithful to them. The Old Testament word for covenant - if I remember correctly - comes from the word - “berit” which means literally to CUT a covenant.
The writer to the Hebrews expounds on WHY blood was necessary to ratify a covenant. It states, “In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living. This is why even the first covenant was not put into effect without blood.” (Hebrews 9) God was declaring in His will - the promise of the Promised Land. So he had animals sacrificed. Like with any will - it is not bequeathed until someone dies. This makes sense even to us today. I don’t inherit something from my grandparents or parents until they actually die. Until that time, they still have use of it. But once they are dead - they no longer need it.