In Mark 14:22-25 Jesus gathers with his disciples to eat the Passover meal just hours before the pawns of darkness convey a criminal court to silence Jesus.
In God’s great providence, the silence of the cross became the means by which God’s salvation would be shouted to the ends of the earth. God loves to use small whispers to shout His glory and what we get to look at tonight is that most blessed of whispers, the Lord’s Supper.
What was formerly a celebration of Israel’s redemption from slavery in Egypt will become a remembrance and celebration of Jesus’ new-exodus deliverance of his people from the power of sin and Satan. And it’s in that transformation we see this truth: The Lord’s Supper shouts forth the grace of our Lord’s sacrifice.
3 ASPECTS OF THE SUPPER’S ANNOUNCEMENT
When traditional food of the Passover meal was brought in – unleavened bread, bitter herbs, fruit, greens, and stewed lamb – was brought in the youngest person would ask the traditional question, “Why do we eat these foods on this night?” In reply the father would recount the story of God’s grace in the Exodus. After singing Psalms 113-115 and just before the meal itself, the plate of unleavened bread was lifted up, a prayer of thanks was said, and then the bread was distributed.
This bread was normally eaten in silence, but notice how Jesus interrupts the tradition in 14:22 and says, “Take; this is my body.” First, we see that the Lord’s Supper is a gospel announcement. He is saying, “I am the Passover bread,” feed upon me and live! Roman Catholics have historically believed that in the Lord’s Supper Christ is literally re-sacrificed for sin, but that misses the point of the text. Jesus is saying that when we take the bread, we hold in our hands not a literal sacrifice, but a symbol of His body that was sacrificed on our behalf.
In 14:23 He takes a cup, gives thanks, and then hands it to the disciples and look at what Jesus says in 14:24, “This is my blood of the covenant.” Second, the Lord’s Supper is a covenantal announcement. That phrase “blood of the covenant” would have been engrained in the brain of every Jew. It comes from Exodus 24 where Moses instituted the first covenant by throwing blood upon the people. Luke 22:20 records Jesus saying that this cup “is the new covenant in my blood.” The New Covenant prophesied in Jeremiah 31, where God promised to write His law upon His peoples’ heart, to open their eyes in the knowledge of Him, and forgive all their sins, and Jesus says this covenant is about to dawn through His death. Just as God ratified the Old Covenant through a meal with His people in Exodus 24, He ratifies the New Covenant through a meal. The covenant is realized and sealed by Christ’s blood, which 14:24 says, “is poured out for many.”
If you’ve read the entire Bible you’ve likely noticed how blood runs over almost every page. Our faith is a blood-bought and blood-wrought faith. Those who escaped Egypt in the first Exodus only did so if the blood of a lamb was smeared over their door. Throughout the Old Testament blood literally flowed out of the Temple as animals were sacrificed to pay the penalty for the sin. Jesus tells us He is the fulfillment of all the blood-sacrifice shadows of old; His blood was about to be shed once and for all to pay for sin and deliver His people in the new-exodus. The gracious blood is symbolized in the cup of the Lord’s Supper.
Maybe you are reading this and are not a Christian, you need this blood of Christ to cover your sin. It’s only through faith in this blood that your sins, which are now leading you to eternal death and judgment before a righteous God, can be washed away. His blood was spilled on the cross so sinners like you and me might be restored to relationship with God. Will you trust in His blood today? The old hymn has it right:
There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.
Finally, the Lord’s Supper is an eschatological announcement. Yes, I know that’s a big word, but oh how good it is! Look at what Jesus says in 14:25, “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.” The cup announces that a time is coming when Christ will finally establish His eternal kingdom and feast forever with His bride, the church. This is why Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11 that when we take the Lord’s Supper we proclaim His death until He comes back. So in the Lord’s Supper is satisfyingly unsatisfying. These are just tastes, spiritual rations of the feast we wait for and long for.
COME AND FEAST!
I recently watched the movie Gravity, which is almost entirely about one astronaut suspended in space and trying to make it back to earth safely before time runs out and she dies. The movie’s plotline was sufficiently tense, but what really captured my attention was the stunning pictures and sights of our planet just hanging there in outer space. Maybe you are like me and such sights stir your soul in fresh ways to appreciate the grandeur of God’s creation. And stir it did, for about eighteen hours. At some point the next day the toils of life were quenching out that fresh wonder at God’s power.
Isn’t our awe at the majesty of Christ displayed on the cross much like this? There are periodic times where we get a fresh glimpse of His powerful love, but so often the cares of life quench out the amazement. But oh how kind our God is! He knows our weakness and gives us the means of grace to continually refill our souls with astonishment at His glory. The Lord’s Supper is one such means. It is a visible sermon, one that preaches the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. This is why we take it every single week, because we need to be reminded of the gospel, Christ’s covenant with sinners, and the news that He is coming back.
What a meal this is! Do you see its wonder and importance? Do you plan your week in such a way to make sure you can come to this Table? Families who love each other are families who regularly eat together. Do you feel a sense of loss when you are not with the gathered church in this act of worship? It ought not to be possible for Christian to miss the corporate worship of God and not miss the corporate worship of God. Can we be honest and acknowledge that we often have a small view of this Supper’s power? That we so often delight more in the trivialities of this world and so will forgo a meal with Christ. I have prayed this week that God would elevate our love of Christ and longing for Christ to such a degree that we move heaven and earth to commune with Christ through the word, prayer, and Supper each Saturday night.
– This post is adapted from my recent sermon, “The Savior’s Passover“, on Mark 14:12-31.