In previous blogs, I have covered the top ten teachings according to the frequency with which Christ taught. These can be seen on page 133 of the download ‘What on earth have we done with the teachings of Jesus’. Continuing now with Christ’s additional teachings. The next of which is ‘remember His sacrifice’.
Having been raised in the Catholic church, I had an inherent belief that the Holy Communion was something mysterious. Something that only a man in a long frock can officially preside in. Something very solemn and not to be taken unless you had been to confession with the priest the night before.
An angel of death passed over
It was now the feast of Passover, Jesus was gathered with His disciples. It was a time when the Jews celebrated and remembered how the Lord God had Sovereignly delivered 2.4 million of them out from slavery. They had been slaves in the land of Egypt for 430 years, tasked with building Pharaoh his great empire. He was of course reluctant to let them go and his heart was hardened. So God sent plagues of blooded waters, frogs, bugs, wild animals, pestilences, boils, hail and locust. It wasn’t until this final blow that Pharaoh finally relinquished control. The Jews had been told to take and eat an unblemished lamb and place its blood above the doorposts of their homes. An angel of death passed over the land wiping out every firstborn son, yet ‘passed over’ the homes where the blood had been applied.
Jesus was now celebrating this with His closest friends, His disciples. It was to be His last meal with them. He took the wine and the bread giving thanks to God and told the disciples to ‘Do this in remembrance of Me’. He was instituting a new observance. The blood of the lamb from Passover was becoming the blood of the Lamb of God who was about to be crucified to take away the sins of the world. Remember His sacrifice.
His blood be upon us
Pilate, the Roman Governor of Judea was in a pickle. Jesus had now been arrested and brought before him. There was a large crowd that had gathered awaiting the verdict. Pilate’s wife had had a dream in which it was revealed to her that Jesus was blameless. She told Pilate “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.” Yet the crowd had been riled and were shouting ‘Crucify Him!’
Pilate attempted to dis-way the crowd but instead an uproar was starting, so he took water and washed his hands in front of them and said, “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” … “It is your responsibility!”
All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!” The impact of this statement seizes me. That such a merciful and benevolent God would turn the words of an angry rebellious crowd into the greatest blessing available to mankind. That His blood be upon us. That the sacrificial blood of the Lamb of God cover us and our children. Cleansing us from all our sins. From the vilest of sins done in darkness to the secret sins of our heart. His blood that was about to be poured out at His crucifixion washes us fit for eternal life. John 6:54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.
Jesus who loves us has freed us
Jesus Christ, the faithful and trustworthy Witness, the Firstborn of the dead, and the Ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who [always] loves us and who [has once for all] freed us [or washed us] from our sins by His own blood (His sacrificial death) Revelation 1:5
Henry says – Christ, had spoken of Himself as the bread of life, and of faith as the work of God. Now He shows them more particularly regarding Himself as the bread, namely, His flesh, and that ‘to believe’ is to eat of that, John 6:51-58, using the metaphor of food. The bread that ‘I will give’ is my flesh (John 6:51), the flesh of the Son of man and His blood (John 6:53).
His flesh is meat indeed, and His blood is drink indeed (John 6:55). We must eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink His blood (John 6:53) and again (John 6:54). This is most certainly figurative language, making the truths of Christ more intelligible to some, and less so to others, (Mark 4:11-12 He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables..)
This language of Christ was liable to be mistaken and misconstrued, that men might see, and not perceive. It was misunderstood by the carnal Jews, to whom it was first delivered (John 6:52). They strove among themselves, they whispered in each other’s ears, ‘how can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ Christ spoke of giving His flesh for us in suffering and dying. But they, without due consideration, understood it as ‘to be eaten’. Christ told them that ‘of eating’ of His flesh was no such absurd thing if rightly understood. It has been wretchedly misconstrued by the church of Rome for the support of their monstrous doctrine of transubstantiation, which gives the lie to our senses and overthrows all convincing evidence. They, like these Jews here, understand it of a carnal eating of Christ’s body.
A spiritual eating and drinking
It is a spiritual eating and drinking that is here spoken of. It is misunderstood by many oblivious carnal people, who believe that, if they take the sacrament when they die, they shall certainly go to heaven. This makes many that are weak unnecessarily uneasy if they want it to take it and makes many that are wicked causelessly easy if they have it.
Let us see how this language of Christ is to be understood. What is meant by His flesh and blood? It is called ‘the flesh and blood’ of the Son of man as Messiah and Mediator. The flesh and blood which He took on at His coming on earth (Heb. 2:14 Since the children have flesh and blood, He too shared in their humanity so that by His death He might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil), and which He gave up in His death and suffering. ‘My flesh which I will give to be crucified and slain’. It was given for the life of the world. The life of the world was once forfeited by sin, Christ now gives His own flesh as a ransom or counter-price.
Bail for our body
Christ was our bail, body for body, and therefore His life must go for ours, that ours may be spared. Here am I, let these go their way. Giving special assurances to all believers, with all the precious benefits of redemption: the pardon of sin, acceptance with God, the adoption of sons, access to the throne of grace, the promises of the covenant, and eternal life. These are called ‘the flesh and blood’ of Christ because they are purchased by His flesh and blood, by the breaking of His body, and shedding of His blood.
Because they are meat and drink to our souls – the privileges of the gospel are prepared for the nourishment of our souls. He had before compared Himself to bread, which is necessary food. Here flesh is compared to a feast (Isa. 25:6 On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine—the best of meats and the finest of wines). The soul is satisfied (Ps. 63:5 My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness, And my mouth offers praises [to You] with joyful lips). In Christ and His gospel there is real supply, solid satisfaction, (Jer. 31:25-26 For I [fully] satisfy the weary soul, and I replenish every languishing and sorrowful person.”)
Partaking of Christ and His benefits
What is meant by eating this flesh and drinking this blood? It is certain that it means not more or less than believing in Christ. As we partake of meat and drink by eating and drinking, so we partake of Christ and His benefits by faith. Believing in Christ, like eating and drinking implies an appetite to Christ. This spiritual eating and drinking begins with hungering and thirsting (Matt. 5:6 “Blessed [joyful, nourished by God’s goodness] are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness [those who actively seek right standing with God], for they will be [completely] satisfied).
Earnest and unrelenting desires after Christ, not wanting anything short of an interest in Him: “Give me Christ or else I die.” Must precede an application of Christ to ourselves. We must feed upon Him, make Him our own – ‘my Lord, and my God’, as Thomas did John 20:28. We must further delight in Christ and His salvation. The doctrine of Christ crucified must be ‘meat and drink’ to us, most pleasant and delightful. We must feast upon the dainties of the New Testament in the blood of Christ, taking great contentment in the methods which Infinite Wisdom has taken to redeem and save us. He is our source of nourishment and we are dependent upon Him for the support and comfort of our spiritual life – its strength, growth, and vigour.
Adapted from the Matthew Henry Commentary
Blessed (happy, prosperous, to be admired) are those who wash their robes [in the blood of Christ by believing and trusting in Him—the righteous who do His commandments], so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city. Revelation 22:14
The shed blood: The Passover Our needs supplied through the sacrificial lamb Whose blood protects us as we are fed By so feeding we are strengthened For the Pilgrim journey ahead. The Passover meal was not for those Who in Egypt would settle down Though they may be protected by that sacrificial blood It was for those who would ultimately wear His crown. Those whose manifest purpose Was with God to move out and on, So it is with us Till all our self-life has gone. Our needs we find met in Christ As of Him we partake But remember this we do With our hearts fully awake. Doing it always in readiness For onward movement in God’s will So though we eat in haste We must eat with hearts that are still. By the late Andrew Feakin (passed away 16th March 2019)
Prayer: Father, thank You for the sacrificial blood of the Lamb. Thank You that with His blood being upon us and our children we are covered. You in Your manifold wisdom purposed this plan for our redemption. May we remember His sacrifice frequently and honourably. In the name of Christ I pray. Amen.