Friday, January 22, 2016, 10:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Listen! Listen!” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Matthew 26:1-30 (NASB).
Jesus told his disciples that the Passover was two days away and that the “Son of Man” (a reference to himself) would be handed over to be crucified. Then the chief priests and the elders of the Jewish temple plotted to arrest Jesus and kill him. After this, Judas, one of Jesus’ twelve disciples, agreed to betray Jesus and to hand him over to be killed. Then, Jesus met together with his disciples to celebrate the Passover at a certain man’s house.
While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.” ~ Matt. 26:26-28
The meal Jesus had with his disciples here, although commonly referred to as “The Last Supper,” or “The Lord’s Supper,” was in celebration of the Passover. So, what was the Passover, and why was it celebrated? And why, in celebration of the Passover, did Jesus speak these words to his disciples about eating his body and drinking his blood?
The children of Israel had been enslaved in Egypt for many years. So, God sent Moses to deliver his people out of slavery to Egypt. He sent him to Pharaoh to tell him to let God’s people go. Pharaoh refused, so God sent several plagues to convince Pharaoh to let God’s people go. Still he refused. So, God sent the “plague of the firstborn.” God was going to strike at midnight and kill every firstborn son in Egypt, including Pharaoh’s firstborn son, and the firstborn of all the cattle, too. Yet, the Israelites were to kill a lamb, one for each household, and take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of their houses. When God passed through Egypt and killed the firstborn males, when he saw the blood on their doorframes, he would pass over them, and their males would be spared. Then, God commanded them to commemorate this day for the generations to come.
The reason why Jesus made reference to his death, and to his disciples eating his flesh and drinking his blood, in connection with the celebration of the Passover, was that the Passover was a prefiguring of Jesus’ death on a cross to deliver us, the people of this sinful world, out of slavery to sin. In this case, Jesus was the sacrificial Lamb, and it is his blood applied to our individual lives that insures that God passes over us in judgment, that our lives are spared, and that we are set free, as the Israelites were subsequently freed from their slavery. Yet, we must obey God, and apply his blood sacrifice to our lives if we want to be spared eternal damnation and have the promise of eternal life with God. We do this through faith in Jesus Christ, in death to sin, and in being born of the Spirit of God in living to righteousness. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24).
Flesh and Blood
Jesus said similar words as these here in Matthew 26 to his disciples at an earlier time, as is recorded for us in John, chapter six. So, this Passover meal with his followers was not the first time he made such a reference to eating his body (his flesh) and drinking his blood.
So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.” ~ John 6:53-56
So, why did Jesus tell his followers this, and what does this symbolize? Well, for one, to eat means to ingest (take in), chew (ponder) and swallow (believe, accept). To eat also means to partake – “to take part in or experience something; to have a share or part of something; and to have some of the qualities of something” (M-W Dictionary). Jesus’ body was given for us in death on a cross for our sins so that we might be forgiven our sins and have life eternal with God, as well as so we might be delivered out of slavery to sin and become servants of Christ’s righteousness while we still live on this earth. So, for us to eat of his body means to believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, but it also means that we have a part in his death, and that we share some of the qualities of his death in our death to sin, and in our being resurrected to new lives in Christ Jesus, our Lord – “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24; cf. Romans 6 & Romans 8).
In addition, when the mother of James and John requested of Jesus that her sons sit on Jesus’ right and left in his kingdom (See: Matt. 20:20-23), he responded by saying that it was the Father’s decision. Yet, he also answered with a question: “Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?” They thought they were. Jesus replied, “My cup you shall drink.” What was the cup Jesus was about to drink? The cup of suffering, i.e. of his arrest, false accusations, mock trial, mockery of him, his scourging and his death on a cross. When he died, he took upon himself the sins of the entire world. He put our sins to death on the cross so we might go free. So, for us to drink of this same cup, we must, by the Spirit of God, die to sin so that we might live to righteousness. By his stripes we are healed! We must also suffer the injustices Jesus suffered for us in that we will be hated, persecuted and even put to death for our faith in Christ and our testimonies for him and for his gospel.
So, is what I just said here supported scripturally in the teachings of the apostles with regard to our salvation from sin and our faith in Jesus Christ? Yes! Paul’s testimony of his conversion and the calling of Jesus on his life tells us that Jesus called him to open blinded eyes, “so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me” (Ac. 26:16-18). In conversion, by the power and working of the Spirit of God in our lives, we turn from sin and from the power of Satan over our lives to faith in Jesus Christ and to obedience to God and to his will for our lives, so we may receive forgiveness of sins, and become part of the family of God, the body of Christ, his church. This is what scripture refers to as being “born again,” or being “born from above” (of the Spirit).
As well, Paul said that the way we learned Christ; that we were taught in him was to “put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (See: Eph. 4:17-24). He said that Jesus died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for Christ who gave his life for us (2 Co. 5: 15). He taught, as well, that Jesus died that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not according to the flesh, but who conduct our lives (our lifestyles) according to the Spirit. If we walk according to the flesh, he pointed out, we will die, but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live (See: Ro. 8:1-14; cf. Lu. 9:23-25; Gal. 2:20). He said, too, that our conversion means we died to sin. “Our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been freed from sin” (See: Ro. 6:1-23).
So, this goes back to the Passover. The ultimate goal of this “plague of the firstborn” was to get Pharaoh to let God’s people go so they would be free from their slavery. If the Israelites wanted to be spared the death of the firstborn, though, it required the blood of a sacrificial lamb applied to the doorframe of their houses, which they had to do. When God saw the blood of the sacrificial lamb, he passed over them, but then he also delivered them out of their slavery and set them free, and he put them on the path to the Promised Land.
This prefigures our own salvation from sin. We were all born into sin, without God and without hope. We were destined to hell and to eternal punishment. We were under the power of Satan, and free from the control of righteousness. Jesus became our sacrificial lamb by dying on the cross for our sins. When we apply to our lives what he did for us in giving his life up for us so we could be set free from slavery to sin and the punishment of sin, and what he did so he could free us to now become servants of his righteousness, we are no longer under the judgment of eternal damnation, but we have eternal life with God. Amen! To apply what he did to our own lives we believe in him, and by faith in Jesus, and in the power and working of the Spirit of God, we die with him to sin, and we are resurrected with him to new lives which we now live to his righteousness in the Spirit of God.
So, if you have not yet believed in Jesus Christ in the putting to death your sinful lifestyle, and in being resurrected with Christ to a new life in Christ, lived in the Spirit in his righteousness, then I pray you would do so today. You may not have tomorrow!
Listen! Listen! / An Original Work / December 20, 2011
Weep and wail o’er your sins, children.
God is calling out to you:
Be ye honest; tell the truth,
And it will set you free.
Harken to Him calling you to
Bow on bended knee today.
Don’t delay to let Him in,
And He’ll cleanse your hearts;
Sinners, won’t you listen to Him
Calling out to you today?
He died so that you would be free
Of your sins always.
Turn from your sin. Turn to Jesus.
Obey Him in ev’ry way.
He wants to set you free of
All your guilt,
For which He did pay.
Don’t close your hearts
To His voice speaking to you.
He will give you all of His peace,
If your hearts be true.
He longs for you to come to Him
Humbly now and repentant.
Obey all of His commandments.
Live with Him eternally.