While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave 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.
Life Giving Blood
Immediately following the horror of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, there was a great need for blood. And the response to that need was greater still. Donors turned out in such large numbers that, within days, the American Red Cross had received more blood than it needed. People knew that giving blood meant giving a chance for life to someone who might die without it.
This understanding of blood as essential for life was behind the sacrifices of the Old Testament. The shedding of sacrificial blood illustrated to God’s people in a very vivid way that forgiveness of sins and an ongoing relationship with God came with the cost of a life. When the Lord made a covenant with the descendants of Israel, that agreement was sealed in the sprinkling of a young bull. God promised to care for them, to bless, guide, and protect them. In return, the people would obediently follow his commands. The problem was that although the Lord kept his end of the covenant, his chosen people did not keep theirs. They acted as rebellious children, like an unfaithful spouse to the Lord.
A new and better covenant was necessary. It required a new and better sacrifice. You and I have also acted as straying sheep. Just as rebellious and unfaithful as the people of Israel, we, too, deserve to be cut off from God. Happily for us, Jesus Christ, the pure Lamb of God, has been offered up in our place. In a new, one-sided covenant, God has punished his Son for our disobedience, and he credits to our account his perfect Son’s righteousness. Lest we doubt this as too good to be true, Christ gave us his very body and blood to eat and drink in the special meal we now call the Lord’s Supper. In his divine blood, we have eternal life.
I praise you, Lord, for you give me life through your Son’s precious blood. Amen.