Luke 22 verses 19 – 20 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying. “This is my body given for you, do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup saying, “This is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”
It is vitally important that we pause for a moment to think clearly about what Jesus said about the bread and the cup on that Passover night, so we will go back to verses 19 and 20. Here are three important points.
1. The bread symbolized his body. There was a “looking forward” to that moment, now only hours away when he would be physically crucified. It was a real body, for Jesus was a real man, and only a real man could stand in for us before God. And this in turn emphasises that our Lord’s death, was a real death not an imagined one, as some critics would have us believe. Some believe he swooned with pain and was taken down from the cross before he died. This is obviously untrue, as a look at the crucifixion story would soon reveal. Instead he really and truly died. The sinless, innocent and powerful Son of God, who was both human and divine, truly and physically died on the Cross, and the bread he passed around to his disciples indicated that fact. Of course, the bread looked backwards, too, to the great Passover night in Egypt, when a lamb was killed, roasted and eaten hastily and bread without yeast was baked, in preparation for the incredible escape from slavery in Egypt. But that event itself also looked forward to this very time now unfolding, when Jesus would die on the Cross for us.
2. The second point is that Jesus said the cup of wine represented his blood. This too is a reference to his death. But this symbol also indicated something else. Jesus said “This cup is the new covenant in my blood”. What did he mean by that? The Old Testament prophets had declared centuries before that God would establish a new and different relationship with Israel, called a covenant, which would result in a changed nature and a new heart which in turn would be accompanied by a desire to follow him. You will find these prophecies in Jeremiah 31 verses 31 – 38 and also Ezekiel 36 verses 24 – 32
So what Jesus is saying in our passage in Luke, is that the shedding of his blood on the Cross would be a sign that the new covenant has come into existence.
All who trust in Christ are in this new covenant. Something has happened to their hearts. They are new people. Not perfect – but a drastic and miraculous change has come over them. Their inner desires are now God centred, not self-centred.
Are you like that?
But still there is more to say regarding the cup, and we will say it tomorrow, as we continue with points 2 and 3.