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Monday, July 14, 2014

This is My Body and This is My Blood



This is My Body and This is My Blood

Matthew 26

 

Jesus had been trying to tell his disciples that soon he would be put to death.  But finally He tells them that time is running out.  That He will be crucified during the Passover feast and the Passover feast is just two days away!

 

After Jesus reveals this upsetting news to the disciples they all stop by Simon the leper’s house in Bethany.  And while they are all visiting Simon, a woman comes up to Jesus as he is sitting at the dinner table.  The woman has an alabaster flask of very costly fragrant oil and she pours it over Jesus’ head. Scripture doesn’t tell us the woman’s name. 

 

But Scripture does tell us that the disciples are indignant because they believe that the woman has wasted this costly gift on Jesus. They criticize the woman and tell her that she should have sold the fragrant perfume for a lot of money and given the money to the poor instead of giving it to Jesus!

 

Jesus jumps in and stops the disciples and then thanks the woman for pouring out her costly gift and her love onto him.  He says that in pouring the fragrant oil over his body, the woman has done it for his burial and He really appreciates it.  And then Jesus says that wherever the gospel is preached that what this woman has done for him will be told as a memorial to her. (Matthew 26:13)  Is Jesus telling his followers that He wants their adoration and their praise?  Is He telling us to follow the woman’s example and give our best to Jesus?  Is He telling us that we are not wasting our love and our costly gifts when we give them to him or to his work?

 

Next Scripture tells us that Judas Iscariot snuck away from the rest of the disciples and went to the chief priests and offered to help them capture and arrest Jesus: “What are you willing to pay me if I deliver Him (Jesus) to you?”  Judas asked the priests.  (Matthew 26:15)  And then the religious leaders counted out thirty pieces of silver and gave the money to Judas Iscariot.  Then Scripture records: “So from that time on he (Judas Iscariot) looked for opportunities to betray Him (Jesus).”  (Matthew 26:16)  Judas Iscariot’s motive for betraying Jesus and helping those who would murder Him clearly was greed for money.  He truly was an evil man. 

 

Jesus sent the disciples ahead into Jerusalem to a friend’s house where they were to eat the Passover meal together.  And that evening Jesus and the twelve disciples all sat down together to share the Passover meal.  But while they were eating Jesus told them: “I tell you for sure that one of you here will betray Me.”  (Matthew 16:21)  The disciples were horrified and each asked Jesus if they were the one.

 

 And finally Judas asked if he was the one and Jesus answered “You have said it.”  Then Jesus explained: “Woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed!  It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”  (Matthew 16:24)  Scripture says that Satan entered (and energized) Judas Iscariot at this moment (John 13:27) and Jesus told him that if he was going to do this deed then to do it quickly. (John 13:27)  So Judas Iscariot got up from the table and left immediately.  (John 13:30) And the disciples sat around the table not understanding what was happening or why Judas Iscariot had gotten up and left.

 

After Judas Iscariot left the dinner table, Jesus and the eleven disciples continued eating dinner together.  And while they were eating Jesus took bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to the disciples and said: “Take, eat: this is My body.”  (Matthew 26:26)  And then Jesus took the cup and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying: “Drink from it, all of you.  For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”  (Matthew 26:27-28)      

 

What did Jesus mean when He said that the wine was His blood of the New Covenant?  Jesus uses the occasion of the Passover meal to bring in the New Covenant.  The New Covenant was put into force by the death of Christ.  In the old covenant, a male lamb without any blemishes was killed for the sins of the people.  But of course an animal couldn’t really take away sins.  These (perfect) lambs without blemishes that were sacrificed under the Old Covenant between God and Israel were pointing toward the future when the perfect Lamb of God – Jesus Christ -(without sin “blemishes”) would someday come and take away the sin of the world. (John 1:29) (One of Jesus’ names is “Lamb of God”)  

 

The Old Covenant or Promise given by God to Israel required continual animal sacrifices made over and over again for the ongoing sins of the people.  But Christ’s death provided a perfect sacrifice and took away the sin of the world once and for all. (Hebrews 8:6-13)  The holy requirements of God spelled out in the Old Covenant were forever satisfied with Jesus’ death. So a new and living way into the presence of God was being prepared through Christ, the Lamb of God. 

 

The bread is Christ’s body which is broken for us and the wine (or grape juice) is His blood which was shed for us.  Jesus asked his disciples and all believers to eat the bread and drink the wine in remembrance of Him.  And Scripture tells us: “for as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.”  (1 Corinthians 11:26)  Jesus tells the disciples: “I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”  (Matthew 116:29) 

 

There is a serious warning in Scripture concerning how a person should take the Lord’s Supper or receive the body and blood of Christ.  A person should examine himself or herself and never partake of Christ’s body and blood in an unworthy or casual manner.  And an unbeliever should never take the Lord’s Supper since an unbeliever does not discern the Lord’s body or believe in Christ as Savior. It would be meaningless and blasphemous to play games with the body and blood of Christ.

 

The Bible sternly warns:  “Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.  But let a person examine himself and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.  For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.  For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep (are dead).  (1 Corinthians 11:27-39)

 

 These Scripture passages show that there is power in this sacrament and in the body and blood of Christ.  Power that is not to be misused or dishonored!  The Lord’s Supper is a mystery that we should not take for granted.  Jesus’ death is never to be treated disrespectfully or casually. 

 

Taking the bread and wine as the body and blood of Christ is called Communion or the Lord’s Supper by Protestants and it is the Mass for the Catholics. It is a sacred and powerful sacrament and the meal should always be taken prayerfully and in a serious and worshipful manner.  Believers should confess their sins and forgive one another before coming to the communion table.  This meal does draw each believer into a closer and more intimate relationship with his/her Savior.  Many Christians believe they receive a special blessing when they kneel at the communion railing and take the bread and wine.  Jesus has given us this communion meal as a way of uniting us with Himself and it is a mystery and a blessing and a sacred gift.     

 

 

    

 

  

 

  

 

       

 

 


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