Monday, April 01, 2024

Mark 14:22-26; Holy (Maunday) Thursday; March 28, 2024;

Life in Christ Lutheran Church, Grand Marais, MN;
And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” (Mark 14:22–26, ESV)
Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Mark continues to be terse. His account of the Lord’s supper could fit on a postage stamp. There is no “do this in remembrance”; there is no “forgiveness of sins”; Only the broken bread and blood of the covenant. Liberal scholars, of course, say these things were added as the Supper grew in importance among the budding churches. We need not concern ourselves with that. Mark doesn’t mention these things because Jesus will fill them out in action, with his broken body, with his blood shed on the cross. All done for the forgiveness of your sin, and mine, and in fact, the whole world’s sin. This simple meal, as part of the more elaborate Passover supper, is Jesus’ last will and testament. The words were spoken carefully with their full meaning. In the setting of the Passover, Jesus is drawing a parallel to the Passover Lamb that was the covenant between those who were under Egypt’s slavery and their God. The slaughter of the Lamb and its blood on the doorposts of their homes would ensure they were freed from slavery. But more important, they were spared from the Angel of Death who would kill the first born of every household in Egypt where blood was not present.

There is no “this is like my body” or “this is like my blood”. No faithful Passover participant would take it that way, especially after the horrible events that began that night. There was no fake blood that would work on the doorpost. You couldn’t splash wine in its place and not expect the Death angel. It was a covenant of blood; real blood was required. In the old days, two parties who made a blood covenant would kill and animal, separate the bloody body in two and both walk between it as if to say, “If I break my promise to you, may what happened to this animal happen to me.” It is a deadly serious covenant. Jesus, himself, becomes the blood sacrifice for his covenant. The bread is his body broken on the cross. The blood is his blood shed on the cross. The covenant is between the people of the whole world and God himself. Jesus’ blood brings them together. Jesus’ blood restores their relationship.

Paul, in 1 Corinthians, which was written before the Gospel of Mark, says,
I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” (1 Corinthians 10:15–16, ESV)
The Lord’s supper is your participation in the blood covenant. Not only is Jesus body and blood present in the Supper, but it must be present. There is no way for you to participate in the promises of the covenant without access to the means by which it is established. Arguments about how this is possible are moot. Jesus is and must be present in his body and blood in the sacrament, or you have no part in the covenent. From the book of Hebrews.
For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.” And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” (Hebrews 9:19–22, ESV)
Forgiveness of sins is the primary gift in the covenant. Other Gospel writers say, given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. Luther says about the Supper,
What is the benefit of such eating and drinking?
Answer: That is shown us in these words, “Given for you” and “shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” This means that in the Sacrament forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation are given us through these words. For where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.
How can bodily eating and drinking do such great things?
Answer: It is not the eating and drinking, indeed, that does them, but the words, which are given here, “Given … and shed for you, for the forgiveness of sins.” These words are, beside the bodily eating and drinking, the chief thing in the Sacrament. The person who believes these words has what they say and express, namely, the forgiveness of sins.
It is faith in the words, faith in Jesus’ presence that bring the benefit to you. How else can what Jesus did on the cross be brought to you more directly than through his real present shed blood.

Faith brings us to the cross. Faith brings us to the Sacrament for participation in the blood covenant of Jesus. Faith realizes the forgiveness of sin, as real as the blood of the covenant shed for you. Amen.

The peace of God that passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

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