Thursday, April 9, 2009

Maundy Thursday

Maundy Thursday
Mark 14: 12-26
Bror Erickson

[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." Mark 14:22-25 (ESV)

This is My blood of the Testament, which is poured out for many. One has to marvel here. Moses slaughtered a few oxen threw the blood on the altar and on the people and called it a covenant. The blood of bulls. Blood was significant. Blood is life. The life of the animal is in the blood. The life of the animal covered the sin in the life of the people.
The Lord used Moses and the Blood of bulls to make a covenant. But the covenant was inadequate it lacked the power to save. The blood of the bulls, life of the bulls was able to sanctify, at least for a time. Cover the sins of the people with the holiness it derived from the Altar from which God blessed the people. The altar upon which the sacrifice was made. And being sprinkled on the people the sanctified life of the bull, covered the sinful life of man. And the went up and partook in the meal that God had prepared for them. A meal to celebrate the covenant they had made with God, through which their salvation would come. But the covenant itself could not save. It was a legal contract, a promise sealed in blood. But the people would not follow through. Indeed they could not follow through.
Only one man was able to follow through with this covenant with God. One man who would represent all of Israel. In fact, He would represent all of mankind. This man was and is Jesus Christ. He fulfilled this old covenant of Moses, so that this covenant could be replaced. He lived a perfect life. And then He died in our place to bring into being a new covenant, but not a mere covenant, a Testament. A covenant can be ratified by the blood of bulls, the death of an animal. But a Testament is only ratified with the death of the person making it.
This is important. Context is everything here. This is the night on which Christ was betrayed. He knew He would be betrayed. He knew who would betray Him. He knew what was going to happen. He knew that He would be entering into the kingdom of God that night. He knew this was the last Passover He would celebrate with His disciples. He hammers out a testament. And He seals it not with the blood of bulls, but with his very own blood. “This is my Blood of the New Testament,” He says of the cup.
Wills and Testaments are not t be messed with. You do not change a Testament after the man who made it dies. You do not monkey with it. It amazes me how cavalier people are with this. “Oh it doesn’t matter what you use. It is just a meal of remembrance. Just remember him.” Funny. Mark doesn’t mention anything about remembrance. He just has the words of Christ regarding what it is. He took the bread and said “this is my body.” and He took the cup and said. “this is My Blood of the New Testament.” It had to be somewhat shocking to the disciples for Him to say that. He has all but predicted His death. Now they understood that it would be a sacrifice, like that of the Passover, to be eaten. This is My body. The disciples would have been familiar with that. They were used to eating the meat of a sacrifice. Indeed that was half the point of a sacrifice that you shared a holy meal with God. That the meal imparted holiness to you, because you ate with Him of His holy food. It is the blood part. That had to be shocking. From the earliest days even before the covenant on Mt. Sinai, blood had been forbidden as food for the people. Noah was forbidden to eat it. Leviticus makes it clear, the life of the animal is in the blood. By consuming the blood of an animal you absorbed the life of that animal. So people would drink the blood of Bulls to absorb the life of a bull, to get a bulls virility, vitality and strength. “Strong like bull,” my Russian friend used to always say. To drink another human’s blood that would be sacrilege of sacrilege. But here Jesus commands it. They all drank of it, and He tells them “this is My blood of the Testament.” Now He had bound them to Him. They had imbibed in his life. They had absorbed in themselves the sinless life of the Savior. And so do we. When we drink this wine, from the cup that we bless, we participate, we imbibe the blood, the life of Christ.
You don’t mess around with something like this. You take it seriously. Look at the context. It is happening in light of his impending death. This is not a time for loose metaphor. It is happening in view of the sacrifice the lamb of God will make for the sins of the world. You don’t make it into a silly meal of mere remembrance. Not when He makes it a Testament. Testaments do something. They aren’t like a mere covenant that waits for both parties to act. Covenants are weak. Both parities have to fulfill them. First the one then the other. Testaments they are stronger than that. They actually do without either party really doing anything. One party dies, and the other receives, because the Testament gives when the one dies. And in this case the Testament gives the benefit of the sacrifice to you who receive it. It gives the forgiveness of sins, in the body and the blood of the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. So you don’t lightly reenact it with whatever you want. Back in the 70’s that was what happened when the charismatics got a hold of this. It even happened within so-called Lutheran circles. They would pretend they were celebrating the Lord’s Supper with Hamburgers and Soda. What? I don’t even like it when Wine is replaced with grape juice. Come on now. This is a testament created by our Lord. It deserves more reverence than that. For in it God gives us the forgiveness of sins, and sanctifies us with His Holy Blood. And unites us together with Him in the kingdom of God. For the cup that we bless is a participation in His blood. And the bread that we break is a participation in His body. Therefore, we who are many, the faithful all over the world, are one body, for we all partake of the one bread, that is His Body.
Now the peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

1 comment:

Steve Martin said...

Great post, Bror!

It IS the New Testament!

Given FOR YOU. Given freely. Without our help. In the face of our disbelief and selfishness..He keeps giving.

That is a Testament!