On the night Jesus was betrayed He introduced a new element of worship, that we call the Last Supper, or Communion, or the Lord’s Table.
Jesus had just completed a Passover Meal with His disciples. He picked up the bread and broke it, blessed it and passed it to them, saying it was to be eaten in remembrance of Him. He also picked up a cup of wine from the table, blessed it and passed it to His disciples.
The Apostle Paul was personally told about this event, after it happened, by Jesus Himself.
“I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: that the Lord Jesus, on the night He was betrayed, took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you, do this in remembrance of Me.” Likewise, after supper He took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” As often as you eat this bread and drink this cup you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” 1Corinthians 11:23-26
Let me draw your attention to a phrase Jesus used, “the new covenant in My blood”.
Here is the same statement recorded in Doctor Luke’s historical record.
“Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.” Luke 22:20
Notice that Jesus is referring to something new. It is a new covenant, or a new agreement.
The old covenant, the old agreement which the Jews were subject to, was based around the Law given through Moses, and the offerings and sacrifices of the Jewish religion.
At the time Jesus instituted the Last Supper / Communion He was about to die for our Sins. His death would completely do away with the Jewish Religious obligations of sacrifices, because Jesus was God’s sacrificial lamb, about to be killed to pay for all our sins.
On the cusp of this new situation Jesus asked His followers to remember Him in a simple ceremony of eating a piece of bread and drinking a sip of wine. The bread represented His body, which would soon be beaten, abused and killed. The wine represented His blood, which was about to be poured out through multiple points of injury, such as His hands and feet, and the spear thrust into His side.
The old covenant, the Jewish religion, was based on animal sacrifices. It was a covenant sealed in animal blood. It obligated the people to ritual, offerings and prescribed works they had to do. So it was a covenant dependent on the actions of the worshipper.
The new covenant, Christianity, is based on the Blood of Christ, shed as our sacrificial ‘lamb of God’, paying for our sins. It is sealed in Jesus’ blood. It is a covenant dependent on the actions of our Saviour, not us as the worshipper. We are free from having to earn our salvation in any way. We simply receive it by faith.
So Jesus could announce, “This is the new covenant”, and He could announce the basis of that covenant, as something other than the works of the Old Testament Jewish religion.
“This is the new covenant IN MY BLOOD”.
The new covenant is anchored in the Blood of Jesus, not the blood of animals, and not in the acts of devotion of the worshipper.
We are wonderfully invited into this new covenant. We are now wonderfully free from the obligations of religion. We are wonderfully adopted into God’s family as His children. We are wonderfully released from slavery to religious form and ritual. We are wonderfully allowed the new, instead of the old. We are wonderfully saved by Jesus’ blood.
So, in the Communion celebration feast, we celebrate Christ’s body given for us.
“And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” Luke 22:19
His body was wounded for our transgressions, and bruised (or crushed) for our iniquities. The whipping Christ received brings us physical healing.
“But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; the disturbance of our peace was put on him, and with his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5
So we celebrate Christ’s body and remember what He has done for us.
And in the Communion we also celebrate the Blood of Christ, because it is this blood that established a New Covenant (New Testament) in which we are made right with God by the blood, not by anything we can do.
Rather than Christianity being a religion of works, where things we do bring about our salvation, like offering sacrifices, there is nothing for us to do. We simply receive Christ’s salvation made possible by His blood. We believe that Christ has done it and we receive Him as our saviour.
“God gave to all who received Jesus, who believed in his name, the right to become children of God.” John 1:12
So, on the night when Jesus was betrayed, only hours before His crucifixion, Jesus announced the New Deal. He presented a new covenant, a new agreement between God and man. This one was not based on physical things, like circumcision or sacrifices, but on blood. Not the blood of animals but the blood of Christ. Not based on man’s actions, but on one eternal act by the Son of God.
Jesus says, “This is the New Deal – the new agreement – the new covenant, and it is IN MY BLOOD.”