The Communion of the Blood of Christ
“For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins”
Matthew 26:28 (MEV)
The night before Jesus was crucified was full of tension. Judas had made the decision to betray Jesus, and Jesus knew it. Jesus’ thoughts were full of the love he had for both Judas and the rest of the disciples, and also full of anticipation of what lay in store for him in the subsequent eighteen hours, as illustrated in the Gethsemane prayer. The disciples were ready for a fight, not only with the authorities, but also with each other, culminating in a lively argument as to who should be the greatest among them.
Against this background Jesus introduces something new and unexpected. The disciples would have been familiar with the stages of the Passover meal, but all of a sudden Jesus interrupts the process and institutes something very different. Did they take it in? Jesus connects the traditional cup of blessing to the blood of the covenant mentioned in the non-Passover passage of Exodus 24:8 when “Moses took the blood” of young bulls “and sprinkled it on the people, and said, ‘This is the blood of the covenant, which the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.’” This blood was sprinkled on the people, signalling a way to communion with God. Jesus said his own blood, not the blood of sacrificial animals, was the blood of the covenant. Why? “For it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4). The Passover did not take away sins. Neither did the Exodus 24 ritual. This was new stuff. A new theology if you wish. A new covenant. The remission of sins is possible only through the divine act of the shedding of Jesus’ blood on the cross. When we participate in drinking the wine of the new covenant, we confess that our sins are forgiven, and that we live in union and communion with God.
Paul, who was well versed in the Old Testament and in Jewish religious customs, saw the significance of what Jesus instituted on the eve of the crucifixion. Note his words: “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?” (1 Corinthians 10:16).
Thank you, Father, that you sent your Son, Jesus, that we might walk in the light of his grace and be led by the Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name.
Study by James Henderson
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