Text: Exodus 24:3-11
Date: Holy (Maundy) Thursday + 4/5/12
“Behold the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.” Tonight we recall the Covenant God made with the people of Israel at Mt. Sinai pointing to the New Covenant established by Jesus at the Last Supper, both of which ultimately finding their fulfillment in the perfected people of God in the day of the full revelation of His glory spoken of in the Book of Revelation,
“Let us rejoice and exult
and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready;
it was granted her to clothe herself
with fine linen, bright and pure”—
for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.
“And the angel said to me, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’” (Rev 19:7-9)
The Covenant was initiated by God. He started it. He made the first move. He did it because He was not willing to see His creation destroyed by sin. He was not willing because He so loved the world. So he made a covenant promising to save His creation by dealing with sin Himself. That “dealing” required a sacrifice of blood, for “the life is in the blood”(Lev 17:11 et al.). This is not a mixture of the blood of two parties as in “blood brothers,” but one blood, the blood of the sacrifice sprinkled or poured, half of it on the altar as God’s pledge and the other half on the people as their pledge, God and man made one by one blood.
After this solemn ritual Moses, Aaron and his two sons, and seventy of the elders went up the mountain. We’re told that “they saw the God of Israel,” though we are not given a description of the form they saw. No one can see God in His glory and live. But God did not harm Moses or his company but withheld the judgment of His Law by means of the love of His grace.
Then we are told what seems to be a strange detail, “they beheld God, and ate and drank.” What does eating and drinking have to do with it? What did they eat? Roast oxen, of course, the meat of the sacrifice as the Levitical priests would do later in the temple. But why did they eat and drink? Why this strange detail? It was to foreshadow the new fellowship between God and men established by means of His Covenant.
No other meal so richly proclaims the salvation of God than the Passover. There the deliverance from the slavery in Egypt is recalled. And there the blood of lambs is shed. And there the fellowship meal partaking in the sacrifice that sets us free.
On the night He was betrayed our Lord Jesus Christ conducted the last official Passover meal ever and replaced that annual festival with the daily festival of the sacrifice of the perfect Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, namely, Himself. For He shows how His death will be that perfect sacrifice when He takes the bread of the Passover meal and commands us to eat it, “for this is my Body given for you.” After the meal He takes the cup of blessing and commands us all to drink from it, “for this is the new testament in my blood which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” To remember Jesus is to remember all of God’s saving acts since the beginning, all fulfilled in Him and also pointing forward to the marriage feast that has no end. It is not only to recall the teaching but to receive the kingdom all through the forgiveness of our sins.
Therefore such joy and such assurance and such love is proclaimed and celebrated even in the looming shadow of the cross, because it is by His cross that joy has come into all the world (Good Friday liturgy). The new testament in Christ’s blood takes away our sin, covers us with God’s love, and makes us one with God and one with one another as St. John wrote, “that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3).