♫ COMING SOON♫
Jesus’ Blood Poured Out For Many
Key Verse: 14:24
“‘This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,’ he said to them.”
This is what Christians call the “Last Supper”. Through it he made a “new covenant” with his disciples— with all those who believe in him. The word “Covenant” means a “binding agreement” or “promise” sealed between two people. Most covenants would be sealed in ink or a handshake. But the covenant Jesus made with his disciples was one to be sealed in blood— his own blood. And this covenant was not with every one, but only with those who put their faith in him. And that meant his disciples back then, and after then all who have believed the gospel by their testimony. And here we have a covenant that promises life— eternal life and forgiveness and a return to the kingdom— for anyone who is found in the covenant, that is, anyone who’s faith is in Jesus. This story is unique because only Jesus did such a thing in history, that is to make a covenant
On this night, Jesus also sealed something else with his disciples in his blood. He sealed a friendship— a friendship defined by an intimate and inseparable relationship with him; something that has also been passed down to all who put their faith in him. In other words, the covenant he made with his disciples on that evening still gives life to those who believe in him today.
Many have tried to explain the beauty of this covenant that Jesus made with his followers. But I think the Apostle Paul describes it in a most beautiful way when he says these words: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35-39) What he’s telling us is that there is nothing strong enough anywhere that could break the bond of the covenant by which a Christian is bound to his or her Lord Jesus. A blood covenant of life and love and more— signed and sealed by the Savior’s blood himself. This truth is probably the most comforting assurance a Christian can carry in his or her heart. If you don’t have this assurance, you should examine your own faith and read the terms of the agreement Jesus sealed in his own blood in your behalf. A covenant like this, once sealed, isn’t meant to be broken! It cannot! The Lord has sealed it in his blood. But your faith may be suffering a set back!
The covenant promises a relationship sealed by him in his blood and through faith in him. Jesus sealed a relationship that cannot be broken. But to create a bond so strong between himself and his disciples Jesus had to pay a very high price. He had to pay the price for this relationship with his own blood (it is why it is called blood covenant).
The night before his death, Jesus sat there at the “Last Supper”, and formed a bond with his disciples— a bond stronger than anything this world had ever seen. He made a “Blood Covenant” with them. What he did was the most beautiful thing a King like Jesus could ever do for his people— everyone of them, without distinction (the rich and the poor, the highborn and the lowborn). To Jesus everyone of his disciples (and subjects) were precious. For them, he was ready to die and to shed his blood. And by that, to create a bond— a love relationship— stronger than anything in heaven or on earth. What Jesus did was even more than that. He bound his disciples (and us) in an everlasting friendship with himself, a friendship sealed in blood.
A covenant relationship— a bond created in love and friendship— and sealed in blood is not so hard to understand. But what makes it hard to understand is the fact that so many people do not understand the meaning nor have experienced true friendship. In our world, true friendship— the friendship that is ready and willing to lay down its life for a friend— is rare or none existent. That kind of friendship does not exist because we are human and steeped in selfishness and prone to being self centered. But God came to offer us true friendship. This is what Jesus was doing on this night. He was offering his disciples a true friendship-bond. What his disciples could not do for him and for one another, Jesus himself did for them (and us). This is what grace is all about. What his disciples did not have, Jesus himself brought to them. He offered them a relationship of love and friendship— the kind that was never witnessed before in this world. So through the covenant Jesus was not only offering his blood for the forgiveness of their sins and eternal life, but he was also offering a strong unbreakable friendship of love. A bond between them and himself that is intimate and unbreakable.
If we had to describe the last supper, or the new covenant Jesus made with his disciples— disciples of all time that is— there couldn’t be a more beautiful picture than the two friends sealing their friendship with one another in blood and in mutual trust and faith. It is a beautiful picture of the Son of God sealing a friendship of love and life with them that begins before his death, and is actually confirmed in his death, and would last throughout eternity through his resurrection. Through this, Jesus was also reflecting the Father’s intense love for Jesus’ disciples as his friends.
A very long time ago, God made a similar covenant with his chosen people Israel. It’s referred to as the “Old Covenant”. It was also a wonderful covenant in which God promised to protect and bless his people and they would also love him and live according to his words. In the Old covenant God rarely considered one of his chosen people his very own friend. But he did in the case of Abraham, the ancestor of faith. His intimate relationship with God began when God called him to do something no one else had ever done before. God told him, “Leave your family, your friends, your father’s household, your country and your people, and go to the place I am going to show you. I know it is not easy to leave all these precious things behind. But if you and I are going to begin a relationship together, I want to be first in your heart and life. I myself want to be your family. I want to be your friend. And I want to live together with you in a place we can both call our very own” (Gen 12:1-2) Abraham knew a good thing when he saw it. (unlike some Christians who want a relationship with God on their own terms, they want Jesus to do things for them, keep them healthy, and give them things, go with them where they want to go, tolerate their whims and fancies, break off from him when they are uncomfortable) But Abraham knew the value of such a calling from God and friendship with him. He knew that a friendship covenant with God is two ways. God’s grace of calling, and Abraham’s submission to God’s will. The Bible tells us that Abraham picked up and went according to the word of God. He trusted God knows what he is doing. He trusted God’s will and word. Abraham left everything— even the dear things of life— behind to make God his friend. And when God speaks of Abraham in the Bible, he referred to him as his friend. (Isa.41:8) God considered him his friend because Abraham’s friendship with God was real and intimate— it was a relationship of love and faith and hope and obedience, and God took care of him. It was a friendship with God as real as Jesus wanted his friendship with his disciples to be— as he would have it with us. Jesus would die for them. And they would also commit to him, be faithful to him, trust him and obey him. Some day, when the Holy Spirit comes on them, they would also die for him.
But not all of God’s people were God’s friends. They were God’s subjects bound to God by a covenant. But to be a friend of God, they had to walk in the footsteps of Abraham. They had to befriend God as Abraham befriended God. It was not that God did not try to befriend them. He made a covenant of blood with them when he helped them escape from Egypt. It was his best expression of love for them. But after they left Egypt, after a while they each went their own way— much like those who after a short walk with God— turn their hearts to other things. They betrayed their friendship with God. When these people saw pretty things, they exchanged God for pretty things. When they saw a nice place to live, they exchanged their home with God for a nice place on earth. When they saw a potential friend who agreed with them on terms of life that were not Biblical, they abandoned their friendship with God for a new friendship. How easy it is for some to forget how much God had done for them! They got angry with God for silly things and complained, and abandoned that friendship. They were not like Abraham who would rather suffer some hardship rather than betray God his friend— for a few comforts of life. Friendships like this with the Lord does not last long. Yet God did not give up. If there was one Abraham in the world, there were many more who would cherish this friendship with God. In the end, God sent Jesus who called to himself 12 disciples and led them in friendship with himself. Jesus loved them as his friends. He would also die for his friends. And as for them, they had left everything to be with him. Of course, life with Jesus was not easy at all. But they were different from the people in the old covenant. These disciples would not leave Jesus and life in Christ for anything in this world.
Except for one! Judas. Read verse 17-21. “When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, ‘I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me — one who is eating with me.’ They were saddened, and one by one they said to him, ‘Surely not I?’ ‘It is one of the Twelve,’ he replied, ‘one who dips bread into the bowl with me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.’” Jesus loved Judas as a friend. Jesus did everything to befriend this man and to bless his life and to make him a friend of God. But Judas’ love for the world grew stronger his passion for Jesus grew colder. Until one day, Judas realized that there was not much more he could get from Jesus. He had had enough of this! He looked for a way out of Jesus’ fellowship. Finally he found a few priests who comforted him and told him that he was doing the right thing in turning his back on Jesus. They too were not so happy with the way Jesus was doing things. Suddenly 3 and the half years with Jesus seemed more of a burden than a blessing. He forgot how Jesus had loved him. He despised that friendship and considered it a waste of time. So he sold Jesus for some money. But Jesus was not ready to sell Judas. He loved him. He was loyal to him. He was as true friend to him and would help him if he wanted to. But Judas decided he need Jesus’ help anymore. He thought he would be happy once he turned his back on Jesus. But strangely he was not happy at all. Eventually his guilt caught up with him.
Jesus had 11 disciples to take care of and to bond with in a love relationship. The next day he would die for them. But for now, he wanted to seal his friendship with them in a blood covenant that they might be bonded forever. To them, Jesus was worth everything. To them Jesus was their life. For those who remained with him, there was nothing more important than to seal their friendship with Jesus forever. So Jesus sealed it. And in sealing it, he created a new generation of Christians who, like Abraham, would be God’s friends— always. As his friends, they would value him more than anything else. As his friends, they would serve his purpose in their lives. They would also tell of this Savior to all people. And because of them, we have faith passed on to us who believe this day. The covenant Jesus made with them that night is still a blessing to this day, to anyone who trust Jesus and puts faith in him.
Read verses 22-25. “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take it; this is my body.’ Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it. ‘This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,’ he said to them. ‘I tell you the truth, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it anew in the kingdom of God.’” Jesus sealed this bond between him and his disciples (and with us) with his own body broken on the cross for them. Jesus truly gave his body on the cross to be broken for us. His body broken for us became the sign of the covenant of love and life for us who believe. Jesus also sealed his bond with his disciples (and with us) with his own blood shed for their sins. On the cross, not only his body but his blood was spilled as the sign of the covenant of love and life for us. It was the most beautiful act of sacrifice and true friendship ever witnessed in human history. It was the Son of God our Friend shedding his very own blood to wash away our sins and to cleanse our hearts and lives and make them acceptable to God. Jesus, the friend of sinners gave his body and blood so that we might be bonded to him in a love relationship forever.
How shall we respond? As for me, when I hear that story, it brings me repentance for my sins. When there was no way for me to be rescued from the darkness of my heart and the filth of my life, Jesus went to the cross for my sins. It also brings joy to my heart that in this life, I can at least count on One Friend who has taken me into his heart the unworthy sinner that I am, and was willing to be broken so that I would not have to be broken. That in this, he has sealed a covenant of love and life and friendship with someone who does not deserve it like me. When I hear this story, I want to stop and consider how much Jesus sacrificed to bring me and you into this eternal love friendship with him. A story like this isn’t just a story. It calls for a commitment to him, to live for him, and to serve his purpose. How should you respond to this covenant story? May God bless your hearts to deeply think on what Jesus has offered us in this last supper he had with his disciples.