Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks, he gave it to them and said, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins (CSB).
The power of the cross reaches many people groups. The Lord moved their thinking from the old people to the new people. Jesus had to change their thinking about the people of God. The law covenant was given to Israel, and focused on the few of the people of Israel. The high priests of the law only offered sacrifices for the house of Israel. The law set Israel apart from all other nations as the people of God. It excluded the nations (the Gentiles); in fact, the law with its commandments and regulations was a dividing wall of hostility (Ephesians 2:11-15).
Christ came to bring the promises of the gospel to all nations. When Christ held the cup in his hand, he spoke of the blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. This connects to Isaiah’s great servant song (Isaiah 52:15; 53:11-12). The new great high priest offers himself as a sacrifice, not just for Israel, but for the whole world, meaning people from every nation (1 John 2:2; cf. Revelation 5:9-10). Here is the basis for the evangelism of all peoples (Luke 24:47). We can tell all people everywhere the good news, for Christ died to save a people from all nations. Together, we can take the good news of Jesus everywhere.
The Lord moved their thinking from some of the people to all the people. In old covenant Israel, not everyone was holy or set apart to God. Holiness was a concept expressed physically, and easily lost by ritual defilement. Only Aaron’s descendants in the tribe of Levi were priests. The tabernacle system brought one near (the high priest), some relatively close (the priests), and others somewhat closer, but it kept most at a distance. But in the new covenant, everyone is set apart to God (Hebrews 10:10). We are a holy nation and a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9-10). Therefore, in the Lord’s Supper all of us are told to eat of the bread and drink from the cup. When we gather to worship, we are all priests joining together to praise the Lord. Everyone is a priest and can minister for the Lord.
The power of the cross secures forgiveness of sins. Everyone has the same great problem. We are all sinners (Romans 3:23). Our problem with sin starts from our inner person, what the Bible calls the heart (Mark 7:20-23). But sin does not stay in the heart. It moves out from ideas and attitudes to words and actions (Romans 3:9-20). We are all guilty and justly condemned. What can we do?
The new covenant provides the forgiveness of our sins. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more (Hebrews 8:12 NIV; cf. 10:15-18). The sacrifices of the law covenant could never grant real forgiveness; they could not touch the problem of guilt (Hebrews 10:1-4). However, Christ’s better sacrifice of himself provides and guarantees forgiveness and takes away guilt (Hebrews 10:11-18). Now we can draw near to God (Hebrews 10:19-25)! Therefore, when we gather at the Lord’s Table, we remember his sacrifice, in which the blood of his better covenant secured the forgiveness of our sins! Isaac Watts wrote the following hymn.
Not all the blood of beasts
On Jewish altars slain
Could give the guilty conscience peace
Or wash away the stain
But Christ, the heavenly Lamb
Takes all our sins away
A sacrifice of nobler name
And richer blood than they
Believing we rejoice
To see the curse remove
We bless the Lamb with cheerful voice
And sing his bleeding love
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus and live for him (Hebrews 12:1-2)!
Grace and peace, David