Broken Body, Shed Blood
27 Aug 2005, Dr Barry Wright
(Barry is Thornleigh's Church Pastor)
Broken Body - Shed Blood
The place is Jerusalem and it is April AD 33. An estimated two million pilgrims have arrived and are cramming into rented lodgings and into relative's houses. As part of the Passover festival, they will carve into the quarter of a million lambs whose freshly shed blood would literally run through the streets that very afternoon. After being killed by the Priests, the owners would take the Lambs home, to be roasted and to be shared as part of the Passover meal. The families, in eating this meal, would recline rather than stand showing that they were no longer strangers and aliens, but were dwelling in their own land.
The Passover Festival is the Jews' most holy night of the year, commemorating the hurried exodus of the Israelite slaves from Egypt after the sudden death of their captors' first-born sons. The story in Exodus 12 tells us how the Israelites were spared the plague, and passed over by the angel of death. This was because of the symbol of the blood of the slaughtered lambs that were daubed on their doorposts. Verse 23 of Ex 12 says: 'For the Lord will pass through to strike the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and not allow the destroyer to come into your houses to strike you.'
This story recalls Satan's bondage of the Jews.
It recalls human helplessness.
It also recalls God's grace as the only hope for anyone to be free from that captivity.
'There is an impressive unity and continuity in sacred history, which is illustrated in the relation between the institution of the Passover in Egypt and that of the Last Supper in Jerusalem. As many as fourteen hundred years would have passed since the Israelites had celebrated their impending deliverance from Egyptian slavery (c.1445 B.C.), and faithful members of the chosen race were to keep this observance alive under both favourable and adverse circumstances' (Seton, 1981: 103).
Just as Israel's freedom was entrenched in history by God's redeeming act, so our freedom from sin is grounded in the historic event of the cross. We are told in 1 Cor 5: 7 that Jesus is our 'Passover' Lamb, 'sacrificed for us'.
BECAUSE OF THAT SACRIFICE, WE SHARE CHRIST'S VICTORY IN THE GREAT CONTROVERSY.
'When Jesus turned twelve years of age, He observed His first Passover with His parents in Jerusalem and there witnessed (for the first time), the service that He himself had instituted for Israel in Egypt and that symbolised the sacrifice He would make for all people. As He grew older he saw more clearly the meaning of the annual celebration until, on the eve of His crucifixion, He was ready to make the Passover obsolete by the reality of His own substituted death and triumph over the oppressor of God's people. At this crossroads of both sacred and human history He shared with His disciples the service that commemorated the end of the old and the beginning of the new understanding of redemption. His last supper with His companions would be their first Lord's Supper and a revelation of the true meaning of the Passover ritual (Ibid: 103,104).
Jesus' claim found in Matt 26: 28 and 1 Cor. 11: 25 that His broken body and shed blood establish a new covenant, confronts the core issue of the Great Controversy. Satan charges that God's law is arbitrary, unjust and impossible to keep. Through His death, however, Jesus established a new covenant by which the law could be written in the hearts of God's people (Jer. 31: 31-34). This new covenant, as told in Gal 1: 4, enables us through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, to love the Lord and obey the commandments of Him 'who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age'.
It is to this new-covenant experience that Jesus calls us when He says in John 6: 53-56 that '…I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him'.
IN OTHER WORDS
'I want to tell you in all sincerity, unless you feed on the same spirit that motivates me to love you and to die for you, you can't be given eternal life.
V54 But the man who believes in me and eats and drinks the same spiritual food that I do already has eternal life, and I will resurrect him.
V55 My love for you is food and drink to my soul.
V56 He who feeds on this kind of love is part of me and I'm part of him.
As by faith we contemplate our Lord's great sacrifice, we will receive strength from every communion. This very special service forms a living connection by which the sincere believer is bound up with Christ, and thus with the Father (White. 1940: 661)
'IN A SPECIAL SENSE THE COMMUNION SERVICE FORMS A CONNECTION BETWEEN DEPENDENT HUMAN BEINGS AND GOD' (Ibid: 661).
The most effective preparation for the Lord's Supper was when the Master washed His disciples feet and said in John 13: 15 that 'I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you'.
Jesus lived to serve. His whole ministry was marked by acts of kindness, blessing, and loving service. But the saviour never rose higher in service than when at the close of His earthly ministry He washed the feet of twelve men who had not yet learned the lesson of unselfish service. 'Pride and self-seeking create dissention and hatred, but all this Jesus washed away in washing their feet… Now with subdued (humble) hearts they could receive Christ's words' (White, 1940: 646).
This very special service, the preparation service or lessor baptism, as it is sometimes called, is a necessary forerunner to the Lord's Supper. This period of self- examination can only strengthen our own souls as we recognise and become conscious of God's great love for each and every person.
IT IS AN ACT THAT SYMBOLISES THE CONDITION OF THE MIND AND THE HEART.
As we reflect on the cross of Calvary and the sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf in this special service today, let us not only remember his death but also his resurrection and the fact that we are instructed to recall the last days of his life until He comes again. As we read the words of 1 Cor 11: 26, we need to recognise that of Christ's death there can be no doubt. These words also show the same certainty about His return. While we look back to the crucifixion weekend, we also look forward to the triumphant Second Advent, when Master and disciples will be reunited in their Father's kingdom. The hope of the Advent should encourage us to be faithful communicants at the Lord's table right now where we will find the grace and mercy needed to enable us to be ready for our Saviour's appearing.
Let us now separate to wash each other's feet in preparation for this special second service.
THE LORD'S SUPPER
In partaking with His disciples of the bread and the wine, Christ pledged Himself to them as their Redeemer. He committed to them the new covenant by which all who receive Him become children of God, and joint heirs with Christ. By this covenant every blessing that heaven could bestow for this life and the life to come was theirs. This covenant deed was then to be ratified with the blood of Christ.
'Our Lord says: Under conviction of sin, remember that I died for you. When oppressed and persecuted and afflicted for My sake and the gospel's, remember My love, so great that for you I gave My life. When your duties appear stern and severe, and your burdens too heavy to bear, remember that for your sake I endured the cross, despising the shame. When your heart shrinks from the trying ordeal, remember that your redeemer liveth to make intercession for you' (White, 1940: 659).
NEW KING JAMES VERSION (1994)
SETON, B. E. (1981) These Truths Shall Triumph, Washington DC: Review and Herald Publishing Association.
WHITE, E. G. (1940) Desire of Ages, Mountain View, California: Pacific Press Publishing Association
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