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.”
The high light of Jesus’ ministry was in his final act of sacrifice on the cross followed by his resurrection. We call this the “gospel”. He had lived a few years among us in order to reach this point where he would shed his blood on the cross for the washing away of our sins. He did that on the cross. It was the climax of his life on earth. He had come to shed his blood, to die and to rise again from the dead so that through faith in him we who are dead in our sins might be forgiven and live. This event we are looking at today is happening the night before all this happens, the night before the shedding of his blood on the cross. And on the last evening before his crucifixion, Jesus demonstrated what he was about to do in an event we call the “Last Supper”.
At this “Last Supper” Jesus sealed his sacrifice on the cross in what he himself called it a “My [his] blood of the covenant”. It was a “new covenant” he was making with his disciples of all time— those whose faith is in him. “Covenant” means a “binding agreement or promise” sealed between two parties. A agreement, a promise sealed not in ink by word of mouth, but sealed in blood. His “blood” was the ink that sealed this promissory agreement between Jesus and his disciples— his disciples of all time— that is, anyone who puts his faith in him. And the promissory agreement was a promise that eternal life be given to those who put their faith in him. And Jesus would seal it with his own Blood— the “Blood of the Covenant”. Of course what he promised to offer them was much more than eternal life. The Covenant would bring them forgiveness of sins, reconciliation with God and access to the kingdom of God.
On this night, at this event of the new covenant, Jesus also sealed in his blood something else with his disciples. He sealed an intimate and inseparable relationship with them and with all Christians for all time in a bond which cannot be broken. The Apostle Paul describes this crucial bond like this: He tells us “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) Paul is telling us that there is nothing strong enough anywhere that can break the bond by which a Christian is bound to the Lord Jesus— in a blood covenant. This truth is perhaps the most comforting assurance any Christian could carry in his or her heart. If you do not have this assurance, it would be good to examine your faith and read the terms of the covenant which Jesus sealed in his own blood. The covenant cannot be broken! The Lord has sealed it in his blood. But your faith may be suffering a set back!
The covenant promises a relationship sealed in his blood and by faith in him. Jesus sealed a love relationship that cannot be broken. But to create a bond so strong between himself and his disciples— and us— Jesus had to pay a very high price. He had to pay the price for this relationship with his blood. The night before he was to die, Jesus sat there at the “Last Supper”, and forged a bond with them— with us— a bond stronger than steel. He made a “Blood Covenant” with them— he would seal it with his blood shed on the cross for all time. What he did the night before his death was the most beautiful things a King and Ruler like Jesus could ever do for his subjects— his people— those who were so far below him that the world considered worthless. But to him they were not worthless. To this King and Ruler, his disciples— his people— and the people who would later on believe in him— were most precious people— a people he was ready to die for. And through the shedding of his blood, to forge a bond— a love relationship— stronger than anything in heaven and on earth. What Jesus did was even more than that. He bound his disciples— and us— to himself in an everlasting friendship, a friendship sealed in blood.
A covenant relationship— a bond forged in love and friendship— and sealed in blood is not so hard to understand— except for those who do not understand friendship well. The difficulty here is that most people do not understand the meaning of true friendship. In a world like this, people are likely to abandon a true friendship in exchange for self-interest. And when that’s the case, then what Jesus did— in covenant of blood— to bind himself to those he loves is hard to understand. To those who do not understand true friendship, who live for themselves, what Jesus did that evening sounds more like a sappy Hollywood story than truth and reality. Even if a person should observe the ceremony of the blood covenant with Jesus, it’s hard to grasp its awesome power because they had never had such a friend as Jesus. Our generation may also experience ignorance in the kind of friendship Jesus brings about. They understand the idea of friendship, while in the reality of life, friendship is either shallow or does not exist. How can our young generation understand Jesus’ friendship if they have no true friends! Friendship, even the most basic of friendships, must experience such things as loyalty and sacrifice on both ends. There may be those who extend friendship to others, but who do not reciprocate. So the friendship(s) soon disintegrates. Either side, those who would offer friendship and those who would receive it without giving back anything, both suffer— one side suffers from disappointments, and expectations that do not come to pass— while the other side suffers from inflicting betrayal.
How can they ever come to know Jesus and understand his bond-friendship? It is a sad thing to see a generation so friendless— young and old people without friends. Young and old people who do not know how to value or maintain friendship. Young and old whose main concern is the self above all else! Most do not know how to make real friends and keep them. How can they ever know true friendship with Jesus— the friendship-bond Jesus offered his disciples— and us! This is where grace comes in however, what we cannot do, Jesus himself does. He offered a relationship of love and friendship to his disciples.
Friendship with Jesus is priceless for those who know its value. What is true friendship like? It’s like the two friends whose friendship was thicker than blood so that they look more like brothers rather than friends. Like kids who make a small hole in their skin and let their blood mix as a sign of their friendship. The two friends are like one. Each would look out for the other’s interests above his own. Each would defend the other even with his life. Even when far apart, each would be as close to the other as one’s own heart. If we had to describe the last supper, or the new covenant Jesus made with his disciple-friends, there couldn’t be a more vivid picture than the two friends sealing their friendship in blood. It is not so hard to comprehend that the Son of God would make sure that his binding with his friends would begin even before his death, and would last beyond his death and resurrection. In fact, through this, Jesus— the Son of God— had also reflected his Father’s intense love for Jesus’ disciples— 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 blessed his people— whereby his people would love him and live according to his words. It was not exactly a friendship but an agreement of mutual love. And in the Old covenant God rarely considered one of his chosen people his very own friend. There was Abraham, the ancestor of those who live by faith. His intimate relationship with God began at the moment of his calling. God asked him, “Abram, I want you to leave your family, your friends, your father’s household, your country and your people, and I want you to go to the place I am going to show you. I know it is not easy to leave all these precious things behind especially because you are a faithful man. 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. Would you do that for me Abram?” Abraham did didn’t need time to think about this. He knew a good thing when he saw it. He knew the value of such a calling from God and friendship with him. (Don’t be surprised at this— most people will not be too quick to accept this— they want to mourn what they must leave behind— and sometimes a lifetime goes by and they never clasp their hands with God and trust him for the journey) The Bible tells us that Abraham picked up and went according to the word of God. Abraham left everything— even the dear things of life— behind to make God his friend. 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, as real as Jesus wanted his friendship with his disciples— with us— to be. Jesus would die for them. And they would 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 betray their friendship with God. When these people saw pretty things, they exchanged God for pretty things. When they saw a nice home, they exchanged their home with God for a better home on earth. When they saw a potential friend, they abandoned their friendship with God for a new friendship. How easy it is to for some to forget how much God— their friend— had done for them! They got angry at God for silly things and griped at him, 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 God do not last. But God did not give up. If there was one Abraham in the world, there were many more who would cherish their friendship with God more than their own life. In the end, God sent Jesus who called to himself 12 disciples and trained them in friendship with himself. Jesus loved them as friends. He would die for his friends. And they had left everything to be with him. They were not quick to leave Jesus and life in Jesus for the pretty and comfortable things of 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.’” Judas was loved by Jesus as a friend. Jesus did everything to befriend this man and to bless his life and to make him a friend of God. At first when Judas seemed distant to Jesus and the others, Jesus said: “Leave him alone, he is young. He will learn. He will grow. Don’t bother him.” 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 looked around and found a few priests who were ready to pay Judas to trap Jesus. He did not consider the value of friendship with Jesus. He had no use for a friendship that could no longer offer him anything in this world. So he discarded his friends as one discards old clothes. He sold Jesus for 30 silver coins. 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 when Judas decided that he needed no more help, he went away to look for better things to do than to hang around Jesus and his friends.
Jesus had 11 disciple-friends to befriend 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 his friends forever. To them, Jesus was worth everything. To them Jesus was their life. To them, 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 forever. 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 friend to all people.
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— with us— with his own body broken on the cross for them. Jesus sealed his bond with his disciples— with us— with his own blood shed for their sins. It was the most beautiful act of friendship ever witnessed in history. It was God our Friend shedding his very own blood to wash away our sins and to cleanse us from everything which made it impossible for us to know God. Jesus, the friend of sinners gave his body and blood so that we might be bonded to him in a love and relationship forever.
What is our response to his call to seal a bond of love and friendship with each of us? What has Jesus sacrificed to bring us into this eternal love friendship with him? This we must think on deeply and then give thanks to him. Jesus our friend wants all people to come into this love relationship with him. How can we serve such a purpose in our lives?