Jesus and His disciples are continuing on with their Passover meal. The question of “is it me” has run its course as each of His disciples asked it of Him. Jesus never did name names but Judas knew who He was talking about. The others would learn of it later. Now Jesus wants to establish a very personal and special ceremony with His disciples. This will be a remembrance celebration that will last forever.
We encountered this scene in Matthew’s gospel too and talked about it as Our First Communion. In this discussion we looked at the events that took place and the words Jesus shared with His disciples. I want to look at the deeper meaning of the elements Jesus used and what their practical significance.
During the meal, after Judas left, Jesus got everyone’s attention and presented them with a new practical, physical, and spiritual remembrance ceremony. Israel’s history is rife with remembrance ceremonies. The offerings in the temple are just the tip of the iceberg. Today Jesus institutes the first one for His new covenant with man.
God had used the flesh and blood of animals in His remembrance rituals since Adam and Eve. When Adam and Eve sinned, they discovered they were naked. They tried to cover themselves by sewing fig leaves together. I have never tried this but I’m pretty sure it is not a long term or workable solution. After God confronted their sin HE made them clothes out of animal’s skins. This was the first death in the world He had made. The animals gave their lives to cover the nakedness/sin of Adam and Eve. The animals’ bodies were broken to provide physically for Adam and Eve’s protection. I wouldn’t be surprised if they also ate of the meat. The animals’ blood was spilled in this process and was now a buffer between sinful man and God.
Cain and Able are the first one we see actually offering sacrifices and offerings to God. Able offered God his best lamb and this pleased the Lord greatly. It was an acceptable offering. Cain offered God some of his crops. I don’t know if Cain’s offering wasn’t pleasing because it didn’t contain blood or if Cain brought God the leftovers instead of the best of his crops.
The physical bodies of the sacrificial animals were broken in our stead. We deserved the sentence of death as the just punishment for our sins. But instead, God allowed us to substitute an animal in our place. The bodies of the animal used in the sacrifices’ were then consumed by the priest performing the offering and those bringing the offering. The body that was broken gives strength back to those who broke it. The meat brings health and healing. The proteins repair the decaying cells of the one who consumes it. The calories and nutrients provide energy for the consumer, enabling him/her to perform whatever task is required of them.
Jesus’ body brings healing to the body and soul. His physical body was broken in our place. Through faith in His atoning sacrifice, we can receive physical healing. He is our strength in times of trouble, both physically and spiritually. His body does not on the alter still lie broken, but is alive and fighting spiritual battles for us. He is our covering, our sustaining strength, our fortress, and our ever present help. This is the body He shared with His disciples that evening. His eternal body, represented in physical form so they could grasp it and taste it and receive of it in their lives.
God commanded Israel not to eat of the blood of the animal because the life was in the blood. The blood of the sacrificial animal then essentially represents the life of a sinless being covering the dead sins of sinful man. The problem with this was that the animal that gave its life was only a temporary patch. Once the animal’s blood was sprinkled no life remained in it. New blood was required again and again to cover our continued sin.
Jesus’ blood didn’t have this limitation. Jesus’ blood is eternal because He is eternal. It is also pure and sinless because He lived a life pure and sinless. Only Jesus’ blood can cover all sin; past present and future. He gave it for us of His own free will. “No one takes my life, I give it up willingly, I have the power to give it up and the power to receive it back again, just as my Father commanded me to do” (John 18:10). Jesus’ blood now and forever covers and washes away our sins, thereby reconciling us to God. When we are washed in Jesus’ blood, we can enter into the presence of God. An everlasting covering. This was what was in the cup Jesus passed to His disciples.
These same elements are passed on to each of us. We received from that same cup and from that same loaf when we gave our lives to Him. We didn’t eat physically of that cup that first communion evening but we eat and drink of it spiritually every time we observe His remembrance celebration. We honor what He did a few short hours later and what He is still doing today. His blood is always washing away our sins. His body is always offering its life sustaining properties to us. The very least we can do in return is to live our lives in a manner that honors His gifts.
Father God, thank You that You made a better plan. Thank You for making a redemption plan at all. You could have washed Your hands of the whole lot of us in the beginning when sin first entered through US, but You didn’t. You worked out a short term fix until it was time to put Your long term plan into action. Thank You that Your plans are perfect. Thank You that there is no need for another yet to come.
Jesus, I want to fall on my knees and repent for all the pain my sin has cost You. I don’t know if You felt every individual sin as a distinct pain when You hung on the cross or if it was all lumped together into one crushing heap. I know mine added to Your burden significantly. I know others would not classify my life as “overly sinful” because I have not engaged in activities that are extreme, but my sins none the less are just as weighty to You. I pray I commit less of them every day as I grow with You. I know I still do sin though. For that I’m truly sorry. I don’t want to hurt You anymore! I truly wonder if You still feel the nails. Help me stop hurting You.