Matthew 26:27-28 Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
In this church we almost exclusively use Paul’s retelling of this scene, from 1 Corinthians 11, which he obviously had learned from those who had been present, but this is the account of someone who was in the room at the time. Paul specifies Jesus giving thanks before breaking the bread, as does Matthew, but he isn’t so explicit about the cup, as Matthew is here. It is the further detail about the cup that strikes me right now. We aren’t used to the idea of killing a lamb to seal a covenant, but it was a common concept in Old Testament times, as Hebrews 9 explains in some detail. Jesus was literally giving thanks that His blood was going to be poured out for the forgiveness of sins. I don’t think we can really grasp the full magnitude of what Jesus did for us. God does reveal it to us in degrees, sometimes in a flash of revelation, but our minds are too small to contain it all. This is something we need to come back to again and again, falling at Jesus’ feet in gratitude and adoration for His incredible love and grace. I’m reminded of the prostitute who wet Jesus’ feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. (Luke 7:36-48) It isn’t until we grasp how much we need forgiveness that we receive that forgiveness in full. It isn’t until we grasp how necessary the cross was that we receive all its benefits. As Jesus taught in His story of the Pharisee and the tax collector, (Luke 18:9-14) those who don’t understand they need forgiveness don’t receive it. We don’t need to run out and do something horrible just to understand that we are sinners, we need to understand that we already are sinners, unfit to lift our face to God because of our attitudes and actions, even if we are thought to be exemplary by our peers, as was the Pharisee in Jesus’ story.
I’m preaching to myself here. Even after God gave me a glimpse of the blackness of my own heart, way back in 1972, I have still had times of feeling self-satisfied, insufficiently grateful for Jesus’ sacrifice. I’m not to be constantly picking at myself, but I am to have the constant awareness that it is only by the grace of God that I stand. I should so live that I can say with Paul, “My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.” (1 Corinthians 4:4) When I deal with others, I am never to look down on them as did the Pharisee in Jesus’ story, but rather recognize that Jesus’ blood was as essential for me as for them; none of us have any hope apart from Christ. I will not be effective in persuading others to accept Jesus’ salvation if I am not fully grateful for it myself.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the person I encountered just recently who had been told they were “too sinful to be a good Buddhist,” but who was hungry for salvation. I pray that our interaction with them, along with the materials I gave them, would enable them to believe and receive, as a shining example to all who know them and for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!