It was a strange night in Jerusalem. It had already been four days since Jesus entered into the town, with a crowd of people cheering him on, laying down palms as he entered on the back of a donkey. The cheers of Hosanna in the highest seem distant, almost like it happened weeks or months ago. So much had happened since then, Jesus cleansed the temple, clearing out the money changers who were treating God’s holy dwelling place like a raucous marketplace. The religious leaders attempted to entrap Jesus, to have him arrested and silenced. Jesus taught in parables and continued to prophesy his death to the disciples. All the while the town was buzzing, full of people, there to celebrate the Passover.
The Passover, that yearly celebration that harkens back to Egypt. Back to Moses, when the angel of death came over all of Egypt and took the lives of the firstborn. But the angel of death passed over the houses of the Hebrews who had marked their doors with lamb’s blood. This Passover night was to be celebrated and remembered every single year. A remembrance of God, and how He delivered His people, the Israelites from the bondage of slavery.
That was what they were celebrating on that strange Passover night. This remembrance of freedom, of the sacrificial lamb, the blood on the doorposts, the meal. As Jesus gathered with his disciples in that upper room, this is what was on their minds. The remembrance of God’s everlasting covenant with his people. The covenant that God had made with them, was the agreement, the contract between him and the Israelites that they will be His people, and He will be their only God. That God would forgive them, through the sacrifices that they would offer.
There was something about that night that most certainly seemed different. The twelve gathered together to celebrate the Passover with Jesus. Jesus washed his disciple’s feet, he continued to teach them, but the most unsettling moment of the evening had been when Jesus predicted his betrayal. As the disciples questioned their devotion to Jesus one after another, finally Jesus pointed out the betrayer, as the one who was dipping the bread in the dish with him. Of course, we know it was Judas’ hand that was in the dish with Christ.
This must have been strange for the disciples, they must have been shocked and saddened by this accusation and the following dismissal of Judas. That night seemed to take a turn from celebration and remembrance to one of tension and sorrow. It was amongst this sorrow, where Christ then takes bread, and after blessing it, he broke it giving it to his disciples saying “Take; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.”
These words, spoken to his disciples, on this strange night, were rather peculiar as well. Surely, the disciples were not fully aware of what was happening when Christ first instituted the Lord’s Supper that night when Christ made this new covenant. They didn’t know what this strange evening would bring, or how it would unfold.
It is remarkable to think about this, to think about the God who created everything, has made a covenant with each of us. It is sometimes extremely hard to believe that such a mighty, and righteous God would do such a thing with miserable sinners like ourselves. But this new covenant is for you. It is for you, who have worshipped other gods. It is for you, who have disobeyed those in authority over you. It is for you, the ones who have lied, who have cheated, who have stolen. It is for you, who have hate in your hearts. It is for every one of you, who doubts God’s promises. It is for you, dear Christian.
As sinners, we often doubt God’s grace. We say we believe it, but really, they are only words. We come to church on Sunday, focused on other things, our jobs, our sports, our money. We are present in worship physically, but not mentally. We come to the rail and receive this supper but don’t recognize that it is truly Christ’s body and blood, and we do not recognize that it is for us. Deep down, we feel like it is too good to be true. How could God love me?
Let these words be a comfort to you. No matter what you have going on in your life at this moment find the comfort of this new covenant. Whether you have medical issues, marital struggles, overwhelming stress, financial struggles, embarrassing addictions, or are dealing with the loss of someone you love, know that at the end of this week, Christ will have sealed this covenant with his blood. He will have taken away your sins and will stand victorious over sin, death, and the devil. But for tonight, as you go to church, and Christ’s table, focus on those words, that Christ speaks to each one of you. This is my body, this is my blood poured out for many, and it is poured out for you.