Mark 14:22-25. 22 And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” 23 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. 24 And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. 25 Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
A question that every Christian needs to ask (and really every person) is this: Why did Jesus die? A person’s answer to this question separates the true Christians from the cultural Christians and the rest of the world.
Thankfully we don’t have to guess at an answer. Jesus explains the meaning of his death to us at the “Last Supper.” It was the Jewish Passover meal. Every year the Jewish people gathered in Jerusalem and celebrated the Feast of Passover. That special night in Exodus when God rescued his people from bondage in Egypt. The blood of the lamb was painted on the doorposts allowing God to “pass over,” sparing those inside from the death of the firstborn son. On that night a meal was eaten, and over time that meal evolved into the Passover Seder that Jesus and his disciples ate together on the night of his death.
But what Jesus says and does at this Passover meal is extraordinary. Jesus completely re-interprets the Exodus. The biggest event in Jewish history. He makes it all about himself. He’s places himself in the middle of the meal, basically saying, “God is bringing a new Exodus, and it’s me.” Jesus is showing us that what we call the “Last Supper” is not an ending. It’s the beginning of a whole new work of God in and through Christ the Son.
Jesus, our new family – Passover was supposed to be a family celebration. Just like in Exodus, each household should eat together. But Jesus didn’t gather with his mother and siblings. He gathered his disciples for the meal, making them his new family. The Church is now the true family of God, with Jesus at the head of the table, breaking the bread and pouring the wine.
Jesus, our new bread – The unleavened bread eaten at Passover was called the “bread of affliction.” Jesus held up the bread, tore it into pieces, passed it out, and said this is my body. Jesus joined his life to the affliction of our slavery to sin and death. He took our suffering upon himself at the cross. And by his resurrection, he offers us his pure, “unleavened” life as our own. In our union with Christ we are both freed from the affliction of sin, and we are joined to the affliction of Christ, being made holy in the fellowship of his sacrificial suffering.
Jesus, our new cup – The Passover Seder included drinking from four cups. The cup of holiness. The cup of deliverance. The cup of redemption. The cup of hope. Jesus holds up the third cup, the cup of redemption, wine mixed with water, and he declares it to be the blood of the covenant. His blood poured out for us on the cross is the sacrificial life that will bring the forgiveness of all our sins and the empowering of all our righteousness. The blood of the Passover lamb is now the blood of Christ. And the sacrificed life of Christ is now our life.
Jesus, our new covenant – Jesus isn’t simply re-interpreting the old covenant for us. He is mediating for us a whole new covenant. God is making a new commitment to mankind through Christ. And unlike the old covenant with Israel at Sinai, this is a one-way commitment. There are no conditions here. No “if-then” stipulations. No fine print. God will do it all. This final covenant between God and man will be perfectly performed by God and God. God as God and God as man. The man Jesus. And in Christ we are now the partakers of the blood of the covenant and all of its eternal blessings.
“To live is Christ” is to sit at the Lord’s table and partake of all the benefits of his life and his death. His forgiveness. His suffering. His resurrection. His cleansing. His acceptance. His inheritance. In Christ we have taken it all into our being. Now our life of suffering is fellowship, not appeasement. Our partaking has become our participation. To choose to love, to choose to sacrifice for another, is to feast on Christ until that day we feast with Christ new in the kingdom of God.
Why did Jesus die? What would your answer be?
You in Christ
In Christ you have been brought into the unconditional new covenant of Christ’s blood. How does this offer you freedom from sin today?
Christ in you
Do you see your life primarily as receiving Christ (take eat)? Or primarily as giving to Christ?
Playlist: The Lord’s Supper.
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