He Gives Us Himself Matthew 26:26-29

Matthew 26:26-35

Introduction:  in the story of Jesus’ life, we’re at a big moment

  • His final Passover
  • Teaching his disciples something about discipleship
    • This is my body and blood for your journey—as you grow in competence, you also grow in total dependence on me
  • A precious final meal to gather with people he loves before his “departure” from this world

It’s also a big moment in the story of the Bible

  • Considering the Bible as one story helps us see God’s theme of redemption played out in history:
    • Gen. 1:  He created everything good (x 7, ending with very good)
    • Sin brought the curse
    • God immediately started the work of redemption
      • Gen. 3:21—sacrifice
    • And that work continued,
      • Throughout the Bible, redemption is always progressing, and the revelation of God’s grace is always increasing through the Bible’s story
  • So, when we get to the birth of Jesus we understand that is the highpoint of God’s revelation so far
    • Numbers 24:17 I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near: a star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel; it shall crush the forehead of Moab and break down all the sons of Sheth.
    • Micah 5:2 But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.
    • And Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
    • But, there’s more—because there’s one thing we should know from reading the Bible as a story is that there is always more!  More grace, better and bigger revelation!
    • So, when we get to the night of the Passover—the only Passover described in detail in the gospels, we come to it with a significant amount of tension
      • Like when you’re reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Aslan is about to die
      • You come to that scene with some wonder, curiosity, and fear
  • At the last supper—we don’t come at it with fear
    • But curiosity and wonder should play a part
    • And to see it as a fulfilment, an increased revelation of God’s grace
  • So, on this night, Jesus, the perfect Israelite—the covenant person who actually keeps the covenant is obeying the covenant by keeping the Passover
    • The tension is thick
    • Judas has been identified as the betrayer
    • The dread of Jesus’ death hangs heavy in the air
    • This is a significant moment in God’s redemptive plan

 At this meal Jesus focused on three things:  1.  Fulfillment; 2.  His Sacrifice;  3.  The Purpose

  1. Fulfillment—Jesus says this is my blood of the covenant, referring to the wine
    1. Blood and sacrifice go together, but the way Jesus words this:  “blood of the covenant” He refers back to Exodus 24:3-8 Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD and all the rules. And all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words that the LORD has spoken we will do.” And Moses wrote down all the words of the LORD. He rose early in the morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel. And he sent young men of the people of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the LORD. And Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he threw against the altar. Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of the people. And they said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.” And Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.”
      1. Moses after delivering the ten commandments and the covenant consecrates the people to obey by sprinkling them with it’s blood
      1. Don’t miss this:  Israel is the fulfillment God’s covenant promise to Abraham
      1. Abraham has become the father of a great nation
    1. Fast forward to Jesus, who says this at Passover
      1. Remember the first Passover:  it was also a fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham
      1. Genesis 15:13-16 Then the LORD said to Abraham, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”
    1. Moses used it at Mt. Sinai
      1. After Israel’s redemption from Egypt
      1. A type/pattern/example of God’s redemption for all his people
      1. Later in Exodus 24, the elders of Israel have a covenant confirming meal in God’s presence on the Mountain
    1. Jesus uses it at the Lord’s Supper
      1. “All of the OT is fulfilled in me”
      1. The other covenants were all expressing God’s grace to be revealed in me
        1. Noah
        1. Abraham
        1. Sinai
        1. David
        1. The return from exile
      1. The New Covenant will be the final expression of God’s redemption and this meal is its sacrament nourishing your faith for the journey
  2. His Sacrifice
    1. “Body and Blood”
      1. “The Life is in the blood”
    1. Sacrifice is only needed b/c of sin
    1. Genesis 2:15-17   The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
      1. When Adam and Eve sinned, they deserved immediate death
      1. But what was God’s response?
        1. Grace
        1. A covenant—the seed of the snake would ultimately be destroyed
        1. A covenant that was confirmed with a sacrifice:  And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them. (3:21)
        1. From Fig leaf loin cloths to “fine leather goods”—we see in this little verse that God’s plan is better than ours
    1. Sacrifice is necessary—death is required       
      1. When Adam and Eve sinned humanity was doomed to die
      1. Life has to pay for life
    1. All the sacrifices of the Bible have their beginning in God’s sacrifice and their fulfillment in Jesus’ death, signified by his final words, “it is finished”
  3. The Purpose—
    1. Why give us a new meal?  Why not keep the old ones?
      1. A new meal signifies The preeminence of Christ
      1. All the feasts and sacrifices are fulfilled in the Lord’s Supper
      1. 3 feasts, 5 different kind of sacrifices…and all the rituals associated with them, all of that bound up in one covenant meal
    1. As we consider the purpose of sacraments, let’s think about this question:  What is redemption all about?
      1. Think about it in terms of what was immediately lost
      1. Sure, Adam and Eve would eventually die and at that point suffer eternal death
      1. But immediately, they lost perfect fellowship with God
      1. Aaronic benediction– The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
        1. His presence:  seeing his face, having his countenance grant you light
        1. Peace with God
        1. The point of redemption—the point of the gospel peace with God, comfort in his presence
        1. Paul uses the term reconciliation, 2 Cor. 5:18-19  All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
    1. Jesus fulfilled the covenant by being the sacrifice who paid the price.  From our perspective, that’s wonderful news!
    1. But from God’s perspective, it wasn’t enough—Jesus did even more than that—in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself
      1. As God who took on flesh, Jesus restored fellowship between God and his people
      1. John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
        1. Dwelt=Tabernacled!
        1. The central feature of Israel was the tabernacle and the tabernacle always emphasized God’s fellowship with his people
        1. All the sacrifices, all the feasts, all the rituals weren’t the goal—they were the means to the goal, which was to have fellowship with God
          1. To commune with God, to sit in his divine presence and know the warmth of his grace
          1. Rev. 4:20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
    1. Ever since Genesis 1, and before, all God needed to do was to speak—“God said, let there be light and there was light”
      1. But He is full of grace and truth—especially with his people
      1. So, in addition to his word, God gave us sacraments
        1. Gen. 12—Abram’s promises—that’s all anyone needs, promises from God
        1. But Gen. 17—Abram’s sacrament—circumcision
      1. And the night of the final Passover, JEsus gathered with his disciples, in that heavy, dense, air of betrayal and death, he gave them this sacrament—the Lord’s Supper
        1. To confirm to us his promise
        1. To strengthen us in his grace
      1. Make sure you understand what I said and what I didn’t say
        1. Sacraments don’t confirm his promise—the promises are already true because he said it, they are as confirmed as they need to be
        1. It doesn’t strengthen his grace—God’s grace is the strength that holds everything in the universe together
        1. The sacrament confirms us and strengthens us—because we doubt and we’re weak
          1. The physicalness of the sacrament communicates in a way we can easily and immediately understand—because we’re physical
          1. As Richard Baxter said, “God is nowhere so present with us as he is Christ, and Christ is nowhere so familiar to us as he is in this sacrament.” [paraphrase]
      1. Jesus gave them this meal to remind his disciples, to remind us of the central truth of his work for us:
        1. That he is with us
        1. That though the world may fail us, even our family and friends fail, Jesus won’t ever fail us, he won’t ever leave us.  He said “this is my body, and this is my blood” pointing to his presence with us forever—that is God’s grace.
          1. As we understand the end of the Great Commission, “I am with you always, even until the end of the age” we should understand his words about the meal:  “this IS my body, this IS my blood”
          1. That means He IS with you
        1. Jesus gives us this meal to give us himself—God’s grace promised, confirmed, and increased in us through Jesus himself communing within us.
        1. Don’t think of grace as a thing that can be given or received like a gift. 
          1. You can’t package it and you can’t pick it up.
          1. God’s grace isn’t a thing, it’s a disposition of kindness, favor, willingness to help you in your time of need, and lovingkindness for every moment of every day but especially in your weakest moments—and that disposition comes in the person of our Lord Jesus.
          1. In the gospel Jesus gives us himself.  This meal, like baptism, is a physical way of expressing the truth that Jesus gives us himself—come to him, trust him, live for him, and grow in your love for him as you grow in knowing his love for you. 

And he ended that first Lord’s Supper with a promise, “tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” As We’re told to wait on the Lord in the Psalms, Our Lord says he is waiting for us in this sacrament—and that is precious indeed. Amen

427 Amidst Us Our Beloved Stands

The Lord’s Supper

The Nicene Creed

457 Come thou fount of every blessing

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.