“This is My Blood…” – Matthew 26:17-30

Another sermon I originally did during my college interniship in Colorado in 2010. I have updated and adjusted it slightly. As we are getting closer to this year’s Passover and Easter celebration I thought this was an appropriate one to post.

Intro:

Has anyone ever participated in a Passover Celebration? Even a Christianized version? I have once in college. My wife and I celebrated with some friends at school, one of whom used to be a Messianic Jew.  Passover is a lot of fun.  But do you realize that this Jewish celebration is where our Lord established the Lord’s Table?  We need to realize that to understand the Lord’s Table we need to understand Passover.

I. The Passover is a reminder to Israel vv 17-25

We see in the text that Jesus and His disciples were in Jerusalem for the Feast of Unleavened Bread, better known as Passover. On a side note since Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper whil ecelebrating the Passover where only unleavened bread (bread with no yeast) that at any communion service only unleavened bread should be used in the elements. We see in a parallel passage (Luke 22) that Peter and John, two of the inner-circle, were sent to make the preparations for the feast that night.  Now if you are like me you can get in the habit of thinking that just because one verse says this and the next is the next part you assume that it happened really quickly.  But we need to remember that the Gospels are narrative, historical books.  When it says the Peter and John went to prepare for the Passover meal that was no small task especially on the day of the meal.  You all know what goes on in planning and purchasing a big celebratory meal like Christmas dinner or Thanksgiving.  Try doing all that on Thanksgiving Day. Now the disciples had it easier, there was no planning and wondering what they were going to make, it was an issue of will the shops have what they need.  Peter and John had their hands full.  They had to find the place that the Lord had told them about, then go buy the unleavened bread, the herbs, the wine, find a perfect lamb, take that lamb to the temple, have it’s blood sprinkled on the altar, have the lamb roasted whole, then the feast would be ready.

SederI want to take some time and explain the modern Passover, not that it was changed that much. Now must of us know that Passover was instituted with Moses during the tenth plague against Egypt when the Lord caused the death of  the firstborn in the houses that did not have the blood on the doorframe. The Passover celebration is a time of remembrance of that event  The exodus story is told throughout the meal. At chabad.org is an in-depth explanation of the Seder. I should mention that the afikomen was probably not started until after the AD 70 when the Romans destroyed the temple in Jerusalem. For more information on the afikomen check this article at chosenpeople.com. The afikomen bag as three compartments. Besides the lamb did you notice Christ?  Christ’s death, burial and act of redemption was shown with the afikomen.

Except for the afikomen this is what Jesus and His disciples were in the middle of when our Lord made a stating announcement, verse 21. Verse 22 says that the disciples “deeply distressed”.  Could that be the understatement of the millennia?  Surprisingly though, they did not start to accuse and point fingers at one another, they simply asked “Lord is it I?”  Jesus gave an unusual answer to identify the traitor, verse 23. What is Jesus saying? Probably, since they were in the middle of the Passover Seder this was referring to one of the bowls, salt water, bitter herbs, or charoset.  And I would imagine that since there was 13 people eating this meal they probably had a couple of bowls of each on the table for people to share.  So probably what happened was that Judas, since he was sitting on the Christ’s left hand which is a place of honor, shared one of those bowls with our Lord.

Verse 24 is a good example of God’s sovereignty and human responsibility. Even though, through prophets of old, God foretold that Jesus would be betrayed, Judas was still responsible for his own sin.  We may never, as humans, understand how these coexist, but they do.  I can picture the room, the eleven have asked “Lord is it I,” Judas has been silent, Christ has identified him and then Judas asks, “Rabbi is it I?”  Notice the change in words there.  The eleven called Jesus “Lord”, but Judas called Him “Rabbi” which is different.  He called Jesus Master or Teacher, but he didn’t call Him Lord.  In John’s account, Jesus tells Judas to go do what he had to quickly (John 13:27).  And the eleven didn’t understand exactly what was going on.  I think they may have been in shock that they had a traitor, or they just didn’t understand, but for whatever reason they didn’t try to stop Judas from leaving.  After Judas had left, Jesus continues the Seder, but adds something new to it for His disciples.

II. The Lord’s Table is a reminder to the Church vv 26-30

Christ interrupted the process of the Seder slightly.  After they recite the first part of the Hallel, they have the meal.  Today, the afikomen is done right after the meal, but at the Last Supper Christ instituted the communion here.  He took a piece of the unleavened bread said the specific blessing over the bread which is  “Blessed are You, O Lord our God, ruler of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.”  He then said, “Eat, this is my body.”

In verses 27 and 28 we see Jesus adding something new to the third cup of the Seder called the cup of redemption.  Again, Jesus said a specific prayer over the cup, the same blessing that is said over all the cups during the Seder.  This blessing is, “Blessed are You, O Lord our God, ruler of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine”  He then said, “Drink…this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”  What’s this new covenant that He is talking about?  The eleven disciples that were still there knew what covenant He was talking about, whether or not they realized what He was saying is unknown, but because these were Jewish men their minds went right back to the prophets.

This covenant is found primarily in Jeremiah 31.  Now put your finger in Matthew and turn to Jeremiah 31 and will take a look at what this is talking about.  Jeremiah 31:31-34.  Verses 35-40 I’ll just summarize quickly for you, God is assuring the people that the nation will stand forever through a few metaphors.  But the part I want to focus on is verse 31-34.

Verse 31 starts with a phrase common in Jeremiah. He says the that “the days are coming” in Jeremiah this is a reference to the Messianic age.  God is specific as to who this new covenant is with, it is with the houses of Israel and Judah.  Notice how God unites the people even though they have divided the kingdom.  This is a promise to every Jewish person.  You’re probably wondering what makes this new and what was the old covenant?

Verse 32 tells us what covenant becomes the old one.  Understand that national covenants do not die of old age, or become voided when a new covenant is made.  God is just making some changes.  The old covenant is the Mosaic Law.  That covenant was established not just at Mt Sinai, but also with the physical redemption from Egypt and the blood of lambs.  A covenant usually has two parties where each agree to do something for the completion of the covenant.  With the Old Covenant the people of Israel agreed to follow the Law and in return God would bless them.  This new covenant is different as the people don’t have to agree to anything.  God promises to do everything in this covenant.  Well what is in the covenant?  Look at verse 33.

God says that He will put His law in the mind of the people and write it on their hearts, that’s so they will never forget it.  They don’t need to worry about breaking it anymore.  God uses a familiar term, “I will be their God and they shall be My people,” God is showing that the relational part of the covenant is not going away.  God wants the personal relationship with each of His people and He wants them to treat Him as they should.  Verse 34 continues the covenant. This verse starts with a new element.  People are not going to have to be instructed about the Lord, everyone will know who He is.  There will be no need for Bible studies, for every person will “know the Lord”.  There will be no need for any outward instruction by man, the Spirit will be instructing from within.  The Lord then says in the second half of the verse that He will forgive the people’s sin and will not remember it anymore.

This covenant is what came to the mind of the eleven in the upper room that night.  Whether or not they realized that it would be ushered in with Christ’s death the next day, I don’t know.  But we see that in Acts chapter 2 these spiritual blessings began to be poured out.  There is a debate in the theological world between Covenant Theologians and Dispensationalists about how much of the new covenant the church actually participates in.  But even in Dispensationalism, there is a difference of opinion about this.  There are some who think we participate in New Covenant like blessings as Christians and there are some who think we are actually participating in some of the spiritual blessings.  I tend to believe that we participate in some of these blessings.  Now you’re asking, “okay, so what are these blessing that we do participate in?”  Well, obviously we still have teachers and preachers so the promise of not having to say, “Know the Lord” is not fulfilled yet.  So, what do we have? Renald  Showers in his book, There Really is a Difference lists them, “Church believers have been regenerated, received forgiveness of sin, been indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and received the new nature” p 104.  Even though the Old Testament presented the New Covenant to literal, national Israel the Church partakes in it.  This is not to say that the Church is Israel, we are distinct, or that Israel is not going to receive any of these blessings.  This covenant will be fulfilled completely in the Millennium.  Israel did not enter into the covenant with the first coming of the Messiah but it will at the second coming.

Returning to Matthew 26 we pick up at verse 29.  This verse, I’m really not sure what Christ is saying, I tend to believe that He is saying that He will not partake of the Lord’s Table or Passover or something like it until the Millennium.  Verse 30.  This is the second part of the Hallel, they probably sang Psalm 118, then drank the fourth cup, the cup of praise then went to the Mount of Olives.

Conclusion:

Just as the Passover feast was a reminder to Israel, so is the Lord’s Table a reminder to the Church.  It reminds us what God did for sinful man, but it is also a reminder that Christ is coming again we will enter into an age with national Israel where everybody sins will be forgiven, Israel will see the fulfilled covenant and accept their Messiah.


For more information on the Christ in the Passover check out these ministries.

Chosenpeople.com or JewsforJesus.org

Starting with the Heart – Romans 9:1-5

Would you be willing to go to hell and feel the wrath of God for an eternity so someone else can heaven? How about two people? Three? How about your neighborhood, city, county or even the state? What about the nation? Romans 5:6-8 says ‘For while we were still helpless, at the appointed moment, Christ died for the ungodly. For rarely will someone die for a just person — though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die. But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!’

This is a sermon I did during my college internship at my home church in Colorado in the summer of 2010. I’ve added a few things and reworked some of it.

Introduction:

Let me start by asking you question. Would you be willing to go to hell and feel the wrath of God for an eternity so someone else can heaven? How about two people? Three? How about your neighborhood, city, county or even the state? What about the nation? Romans 5:6-8 says ‘For while we were still helpless, at the appointed moment, Christ died for the ungodly. For rarely will someone die for a just person — though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die. But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!’. Now you’re asking yourself, “what’s this got to do with anything?” Well, if we are going to be good witnesses, evangelists even, we have to start with a heart for those close to us. Let’s look at our text, Romans 9:-15.

1. Paul’s Heart of Sorrow vv1-3

Paul is really showing us a glimpse of his heart here. In verse one he is really stressing a point to us, he says, “I tell the truth” now if someone comes up to you and says the they are telling the truth you’re not going to think they are lying to you. Now, generally, no one is going to not believe someone when they say they are telling the truth. Paul takes it one step further by adding “in Christ”. Now he’s saying “I’m a Christian and am telling the truth.” Now you’re going to put more stock into what that person has to say right? Paul goes further, “I am not lying”, and further, “my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit”. Paul we get it, you’re a truthful Christian, who isn’t lying and is confident that God Himself knows that your conscience is allowing you to say this, now, what do you want to say? Paul saying, “not only is he making this statement and not lying, but his conscience also, enlightened by the Spirit, is saying Amen to this; it is agreeing, there is no condemnation in him” (©1991, Lloyd-Jones, Dr Martyn; Romans: An Exposition of Chapter 9: God’s Sovereign Purpose, p17). What is it he is wanting to stress to his readers? Let’s keep reading.

Paul tells us that he has “great sorrow”. The word for sorrow can be translated grief or pain as well. So Paul is in pain. We read on and find that it is continual. That is a good translation, it can also mean unceasing, that is how the NASB translated it. The word he used for grief here is not the same word as he used for sorrow, this one means, pain, It implies the anguish or smart of the heart which is the result of sorrow. So Paul emphatically tells us that he is being truthful when he says he has a deep sorrow that will not go away. So what is this pain and sorrow?

Verse three gives us the cause of Paul’s great sorrow. The phrase “For I could wish” might have been kind of idiomatic and meaning, “I was on the point of wishing”. The verb translated “wish” means to “pray, wish, or long”. Paul was longing, though he knew it could not happen, if all of Israel would accept the gospel and their Messiah, he would gladly have been separated from Christ and sent to hell. The word here for “accursed” is “anathema”, now this means, “under the curse of God”. This is what Paul was willing to do if it meant the nation of Israel would be saved.

Warren Wiersbe in the Wycliffe Handbook of Preaching and Preachers wrote, “One Sunday evening, William Booth was walking in London with his son, Bramwell, who was then 12 or 13 years old. The father surprised the son by taking him into a saloon! The place was crowded with men and women, many of them bearing on their faces the marks of vice and crime; some were drunk. The fumes of alcohol and tobacco were poisonous. ‘Willie,’ Booth said to his son, ‘These are our people; these are the people I want you to live for and bring to Christ.’ Years later, Bramwell Booth wrote, ‘The impression never left me.’”

If we are going to be evangelistic we need to start with a heart for those close to us. The question that verse three leaves us with then is, why? Why would make Paul want to go to hell if it meant they were saved? Verses four and five give us the answer.

2. What Israel Had vv4-5

What did Israel have? Israel was already adopted by the Lord. Many times in the Old Testament the Lord refers to the children of Israel as His children. In Exodus 4:22 He claims them as His firstborn. And in Deuteronomy 7:6 God says He has chosen them above all the people of the earth. MacArthur puts it this way, “Not in the sense of providing salvation to every person born a Jew, but sovereignly selecting an entire nation to receive His special calling, covenant, and blessing and to serve as His witness nation” (©2005. John MacArthur, MacArthur Bible Commentary, p1535).

What glory is Paul talking about? This is referring to the Shekinah glory that lead the people through the wilderness, that dwelt in the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle and the Temple of Solomon. This was the representation of God’s presence with the nation of Israel. No other nation was ever so visited, was ever so blessed. The covenants go back to Abraham and David and the New Covenant promised in Joel. The Abrahamic covenant was the promise of land, which has not been fulfilled yet, the promise of a descendant (Christ) and many descendants. You can find these in Genesis 15 and 22. The Davidic covenant was a promise that a descendant of David (Christ) would sit on the throne of David forever this is found in 2 Samuel 7:8-17. The New Covenant was a promise that the people would receive eternal blessings, a new heart that would never wander from the Lord.

Israel had an other special blessing that was just theirs. They had received the Law of God. In Romans 3:2  Paul says that the Jews had a great advantage, as they had been entrusted with the oracles of God, which is the Law. Remember, every writer of the Old Testament was an Israelite. They were the only ones to receive direct messages from God, except Egypt and Nineveh but they warned by Jewish messengers. They also had a sacred service to God to perform. Their temple worship was prophetic, until Christ came, the Temple practice will be established once again in the millennium as a memorial of Christ. We see this in the last nine chapters of Ezekiel. They, also, were the recipients of the promises. William Newell says this, “God’s salvation promises were lodged in Abraham; His kingdom promises, in David. No promises were made to Gentile nations as such. For the gospel now proclaimed is not a promise, but the announcement of a fact to be believed; and it is not preached to nations as such, but to individuals – good news to sinners everywhere. But to Israel, promises, thousands of them, were committed, – as a nation”(©1945 Newell, William R. Romans: Verse by Verse, 360).

Paul’s point of mentioning all these things of Israeli history is because it was their Messiah that had come. They were to receive Him, believe Him, and all the promises and covenants would have been fulfilled 2000 years ago. As Paul will talk about a couple of chapters later, the Gentiles who are being saved are being grafted into the plan of God and Israel is being put on hold. This is Paul’s sorrow and pain in his heart.

Verse five points out that these six things were given to the fathers.  We’ve talked a little about them already, but listen to what Newell says, “Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are directly referred to; and Jacob’s sons also, especially Joseph, and Judah the vessel of royal promise and blessing to Israel. Our hearts include Moses, Samuel, David, and the prophets when we think of Israel and remember ‘the fathers.’ But it is especially to Abraham, ‘the father of all them that believe,’ that our grateful memory turns; for, although we have no connection with Israel, but we have indeed a vital connection with Abraham, as his ‘children’” (Newell, 360-1). The rest of verse of five shows the greatest honor that Israel had received, [read, “and from whom, according…”] The Messiah had come. God the Son, the second Person of the Trinity had come in human form, fully God and fully human ready to save His people and fulfill the prophecies of Himself and complete the promises. The phrase “over all, the eternally blessed God” is another reminder Who Jesus Christ is, what He has done, and continues to do. We see other verses in the New Testament making this claim as well, 1 Corinthians 15:27; John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:15-20.

Israel had everything going for them spiritually. They were God’s chosen people, they knew it. Israel had the fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They had Moses and Joshua. They had judges like Ehud, Gideon, Samson, and Samuel. They had Kings like David, Solomon, Josiah. They had prophets like Nathan, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and Micah. They had courageous leaders like Nehemiah, and priests like Ezra. They had the Law, the Psalms and Proverbs, they had the writings of the Prophets. And yet they did not accept their King, their Messiah. They rejected the gospel, the rejected Christ, they once again turned their back on God. This is Paul’s sorrow and unceasing grief.

Conclusion:

Now after that history lesson you’re wondering, “What’s this got to do with me?” Two things really. The first is that, like Paul we need to have a burden in our hearts for those close to us. Remember he said of these people we just read about, were his kinsman according to the flesh. We need to have a heart for people, but we need to start with those close to us. Paul’s heart beats with our Lord’s heart on this matter. In Luke 13 Jesus, heartbroken, laments over Jerusalem and the nation as a whole when He cries, “‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem! She who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her. How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!'”. Paul lived this desire out throughout his journeys recorded in the book of Acts. Every time he went to a city he always started at the synagogue, or, as in Philippi, when there was no synagogue he started where the Jewish community would meet.  (Acts 16:11-15) Why? Because Jesus was and is their Messiah, and Paul wanted his countrymen to come to that knowledge.

Second, and this is more broad, but we need to be concerned for the salvation the Jewish people. That is what Paul is getting after in chapters 9-11 of Romans. We need to be concerned with what happens in the Middle-East. We need to find Jewish communities and be praying for their souls as well as for that neighbor who thinks you are nuts for believing in the Bible or “intolerant” for saying Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation.