Snippet: And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. 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.” (Mark 14:24-25)
Jesus makes the arrangements for the location and preparation of the annual Passover meal with his disciples in Jerusalem. His followers have had this meal with him before and knew the drill. The host would stand up at four different times throughout the meal to explain the feast’s meaning. The four cups represented the four promises given to the nation of Israel in Exodus 6:6-7:
- The rescue from Egypt
- The freedom from slavery
- The redemption by God’s power
- A renewed relationship with God
Everything was going along as scheduled until the third cup. As Jesus stood up and spoke, he dramatically departs from the script. “Take, this is my body”. This is my suffering, my broken body in order to deliver you from the bondage of sin. It didn’t stop there, because he then takes the wine and says, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.” A new covenant, an everlasting covenant that would be a blood sacrifice once for all, the blood of God himself in Jesus Christ.
The disciples were shocked and a bit confused, so the late night walk to the Garden of Gesthamane was a hazy memory. Once there, Jesus permitted his three closest disciples to go deep into the garden, where he agonized over the events that were just on the horizon. The physical suffering would be daunting, but what really caused the agony was the separation from his eternal Father that he would experience.
While he was knocked off balance by the coming reality of it all, he stayed the course. Faithful obedience travels along with pathway of suffering, and the Son and Father were unified in their desire to move forward. As he emerges from the Garden, the betrayer is there. Judas cashes in on his deal to arrest Jesus and deliver on his deal with the chief priests.
The depths of “Maundy Thursday” can and should be explored more and more throughout our lives, for we will never reach the bottom of it. But, it can also be edifying to take a step back and appreciate the power in the simplicity of it all – that Jesus is definitively giving himself up out of his own will. He wasn’t tricked, he wasn’t outmaneuvered by his enemies. He was, and is, in total control, even of the events that will lead to his own brutal death.
However, Jesus doesn’t approach these events with bitterness and resentment. He isn’t be forced. It was agonizing yes, but it was the kind of agony that led to freedom and victory on the other side. It was with “joy set before him” that he endured the cross (Heb 12:2), as well as the events leading up to it.
At the Passover meal, the main course was the lamb, representing the lamb that was sacrificed by the Israelites in Egypt and its blood shed on their door posts so God would “pass over” their homes and not inflict the plague upon them. In the Gospels, there is never any mention of the lamb at the Last Supper, and the reason is because Jesus IS the new and better Passover lamb, the lamb that was slain, and whose blood covers those who put their faith in Him. In Christ, those four promises in Exodus 6 take on a fuller and deeper meaning:
- The rescue from the enemy – Satan, not Egypt.
- The freedom from slavery – the slavery of sin, not chattle.
- The redemption of your soul – not just your body.
- The renewal of your relationship with God – an eternal relationship that will never end.
Jesus, and the cross that looms, is where grace meets betrayal, and when grace meets betrayal, grace wins every time.
Questions to consider:
How does God’s sovereignty over all things provide peace in the midst of overwhelming circumstances? When was the last time you felt overwhelmed with life?
How can we better prepare our hearts before and during the observance of the Lord’s Supper?
Dear Lord, we thank you for the visual reminder you provided at the Last Supper, and the invitation you give the church to regularly partake in taking the bread and the cup in remembrance of your sacrifice and love for us. We pray that we would follow your example by the power of Your Spirit within us and remain on the path of faithful obedience to your will. We thank you for your patience with us, and pray that we would daily press deeply into the sustaining grace you provide.