An Amazing Sacrifice

Life Notes—February 18, 2010 

“Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it.  He said to them, ‘This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.  Truly I tell you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.’”   Mark 14: 23-25  

Webster defines covenant as “a written agreement or promise…between two or more parties…for the performance of some action.”  On his Last Supper with his disciples Jesus takes a cup of wine, gives thanks, has them drink and describes it as (his) blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.   The Gospel of Luke (22:20b) records Jesus’ words as, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.”  For me, this is where Christianity gets a little weird.  Most of us do not understand the blood sacrifices of the Old Testament.  But to grasp the significance of the blood of Jesus and this new covenant we desperately need that background and context.  Otherwise, the blood of Christ shed for us becomes little more than a gory piece of history. 

Now for a disclaimer: I am no expert on atoning sacrifices, so consider this the lay person’s version.  The law of the Old Testament stated the price of sin was death.  It didn’t specify the sinner had to die, but some living being’s blood had to be shed to cleanse the sinner and atone for the sin.  People made periodic journeys to the temple with a sacrificial animal to be killed and its blood poured on the altar.  So, when Jesus referred to the wine in the cup as his blood of the covenant, poured out for many, he pronounced himself our sacrificial lamb.  His blood was to be shed for us, for all of us, thus establishing a new covenant and freeing us forever from the need for animal sacrifice.  (And all the animals said, “Halleluia!)  Christ’s death on the cross is the death required to pay for our sin.  When we say he carried the weight of the sin of the world onto that cross, part of that weight was ours.  Jesus dies for us so we will be seen as clean and righteous in the eyes of God, worthy to enter the kingdom of heaven on our earthly death.  Jesus gives, we receive.  Love.  It is a gift we can neither earn nor deserve.  Just pure love, and complete forgiveness. 

And so, we begin our Lenten journey; a time of reflection and repentance.  We are led to the cross to die for our sins, only to find our debt paid by a loving Savior in an act of love and mercy beyond our most extravagant imagining.  This Sunday is the first Sunday of Lent.  Tom’s sermon title is “A New Covenant” and is based on the scripture found in Mark 14:12-25.  Our church-wide Lenten study, “24 Hours That Changed the World,” begins with several Sunday morning classes and others throughout the week.   Life service is at 10:45 in Brady Hall.  Traditional worship in the sanctuary is at 8:30 and 11:00.  Contemporary worship at the west campus is at 9:30. 

Come home to worship this Sunday!  Journey with us to the cross.

Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator

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