Mark 14:22-25 22 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them and said, "Take, eat; this is My body." 23 Then He took the cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. 24 And He said to them, "This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many. 25 Assuredly, I say to you, I will no longer drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God."
On the night before Jesus’ crucifixion He ate His last meal with the disciples which was the first communion- a special service instituted by Jesus Christ and celebrated within the Church today. The communion service is a special service whereby the body of Christ comes into union with God in a special way and by which we remember Jesus’ death and resurrection and we look forward to His second coming when He will judge the world in righteousness.
At the time the disciples did not understand any of this. They had been struggling to accept the truth that Jesus had repeatedly said to them as He prophesied beforehand to His disciples that He would die and rise again. They had no struggles accepting that He would rule as the Christ and they longed to rule in His Kingdom with Him but His death remained a mystery to them. As they were just words it was easy for the disciples to ignore or misinterpret them but now Jesus had given them signs that they could not ignore. There was the sign of the woman anointing Jesus with expensive ointment for His burial (Mark 14:3) and also, just before the last supper, a shocking announcement that it would not be the external enemies (the elders, the chief priests, the scribes, and the Gentiles) who would overcome Jesus’ and have Him killed but a betrayer from within- one of the very twelve that was eating with Jesus (Mark 14:18-21). These weren’t statements that could be misinterpreted. They were very clear. Jesus had been anointed for burial. Jesus would be betrayed by one of the disciples eating with Jesus as they were celebrating the Passover meal together.
Jesus was going to die! Not only must have the disciples been in complete confusion as they examined their own hearts and questioned “Is it I who could betray Jesus?” but the reality of Jesus’ coming death must have been overwhelming them. How difficult and sad this last meal that they spent together must have been. The disciples must have been flooded with thoughts of confusion and bewilderment. They were having their last meal with the Lord and Savior! What could this mean? Would they all of a sudden be alone without Him? They had given up everything to follow Him. How could He die? What was this blood of the new covenant that was shed for many? What could it mean that Jesus would not drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when He drinks it new in the Kingdom of God? The disciples had been seeing Jesus manifest the Kingdom of God within their midst for over three years as He performed all kinds of amazing miracles and preached the Good News to the people of Israel and the surrounding areas. This last meal must have been heart wrenching and filled with questions and uncertainty. It was very special to be a part of this meal and yet at the same time it was very difficult.
So what was the meaning of this blood of the new covenant which did not make sense to the disciples during the last supper but would become clear later? It obviously referred to Jesus’ death. We can find the answer in the book of Hebrews:
Hebrews 9:15 Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.
In eternity past the Son of God entered into a covenant with God the Father. He agreed to die in our place as a mediator. Why? Because God knew beforehand that Adam would break the covenant of works by eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden and we all would be born into this world under the curse of sin. The blood of the covenant signifies the shed blood of the Son of God who would enter into creation as a man to die after living a life of perfect obedience to God. Jesus would pay the penalty of Adam’s sin and at the same time receive the reward of a kingdom of saints united to Him by faith. This new covenant entered into between God and man is called the covenant of grace. Although Jesus Christ had been manifesting His Kingdom continually upon this earth for over three years as He trained His disciples, His Kingdom could not formally be established without Him completing what was required in His covenant with God the Father. He had to die in order to receive the Kingdom of God and to set us free who were under the curse of sin.
Though Jesus has died and risen again and is currently seated in heaven at the right hand of God the Father in all authority and power, He has still not yet drank the fruit of the vine (grape juice) as at this last supper with His disciples. Why? Because His Kingdom is not yet complete. He is still drawing people into the covenant of grace by faith and saving sinners from the curse of sin. Jesus will not return to this world at His second coming until every last soul that He intends to save is in His Kingdom. Then will come the marriage supper of the Lamb:
Revelation 19:6-9 6 Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. 7 Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; 8 it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. 9 And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”
Are you in the Kingdom of God? Are you special enough to be invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb? You cannot be “good enough” to be invited. The invitations come only “by faith.” Have you drank of the blood of this new covenant? Do you know of the grace of God and have you entered into the covenant of grace with God by faith in Jesus Christ? How special it was for the disciples to eat this last supper with Jesus! How amazing will it be for us who repent and believe in Him to be a part of this marriage supper of the Lamb! Does this excite you? Do you long to see Jesus Christ who died on the cross in order that you may be saved? Or, does the blood of the new covenant mean nothing to you?
Pastor Murray Hack