Matthew 26:17-30 The New Covenant

Today we are going to see something new take place that was implemented by Jesus Christ. Through the celebration of the Old Covenant, Jesus Christ is now going to establish a new covenant in which we celebrate His sacrifice on the cross for our sins.

Now on the first day of unleavened bread

Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread combined together made for a 8 day celebration.

Unleavened Bread was the bread they took with them when they left Egypt, because it is said they did not have time to let it rise.

Passover is the celebration of the death angel passing over the children of Israel in Egypt, that had the blood of the lamb on their door post.

Leaven or Yeast was used to make the bread rise so after someone made bread they would keep a piece to put in the new batch. The Leaven or Yeast was used throughout the Bible to represent influence but especially evil influence. (Matthew 13:33; 1 Corinthians 5:6)  So every year they celebrated the feast of unleavened bread as a celebration of God getting them out of Egypt.  (Exodus 12:14-15)

Where do you want us to prepare for you to eat the Passover?

The Disciples and Jesus did not have their immediate family with them,  so the Disciples knew they must begin preparations for the meal Passover took place first then the feast of unleavened bread followed.

Go into the city and find a certain man and say to Him my teacher says my time is at hand. I am to keep Passover at your house with my Disciples.

We are not sure if this was a preset place that Jesus already established a head of time or a God ordained place.  With the influx of people that would have flooded the city it would have been difficult to get a place like this on short notice. This man would rent out his room for people who were traveling to have Passover.

Even if Jesus had the place picked out He still told the disciples exactly what they would find and who to ask. Mark 14:13 Luke 22:10 tells us that the man would be carrying a water pitcher which was not common since women were the main carriers of water. Jesus even told them what to say to the man when they found him. So the two disciples set out to do all they had to do to prepare for the Passover meal.

The part of the story that goes a little unnoticed is that Jesus is almost speaking in code to them as to not give away the exact place they will be staying. Judas was going to betray Jesus and He did not want to give Judas a location as to where they would be,  so he could alert the Jewish leaders.

Although Jesus knew that all things are in Gods sovereign control, He also took human responsibility to assure that Judas did not act earlier. I love that it always goes back to God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility. God is in control but He asks us to do the things we know He wants us to do.

Preparations for the Passover

They would have taken the lamb to the priest to be slaughtered, which had to be done at a certain time during the day.

They would have prepared the herbs, wine and unleavened bread as well as,  got the room ready which would have been set up a certain way. This is of course unless the man renting out the room did not have the set up of the room already done since they all set them up the same way.

Everything was symbolic to remember Gods deliverance out of Egypt.

Just like today we celebrate Baptism and the Lords Supper as reminders as to Christ death and resurrection so they had symbols for every part of the meal.

4 cups of wine at the meal represented God four promises in Exodus 6:6-7

Some believe the bowl they dipped the bread, herbs  and even bare hands in was made of ground apples, dates, pomegranates and nuts. It turned into a thick brownish mixture that some say would have been a reminder of clay bricks they made while in captivity. Sticks of cinnamon were also used as a symbol of the straw they put in the bricks. Everything had to be eaten by sunrise or be burned (Exodus 12:8-10)

This all acted as a family activity and explanation of the things of God. This is something our churches have lost as we no longer strive to discuss spiritual matters with our children.

And when evening arrived He reclined at the table

They would lie down on their left side and use their right hand to eat with. Some say that symbolizes freedom and are no longer slaves.  This is why foot washing was so important because their feet would have been close to the food.

John 13:4-10 rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet,[a] but is completely clean. And you[b] are clean, but not every one of you.”

As Christians we are cleaned but we get a little dirty as we walk the paths of the world and we have areas that we need Jesus to clean for us. Confession of sins is part of our Christian life as we come to Christ and have Him wash the areas of our life that need cleaning.

There were 15 steps to the Passover meal or the head of the household to walk their family through (Here are a couple of the steps)

  • The initial cup of red wine followed by a prayer (Luke 22:17)
  •  ceremonial washing of hands
  •  eating of bitter herbs reminding them of their bitter bondage in Egypt
  •  taking the second cup of wine and the head would explain the Passover
  • sing a praise usually from Psalm 113-118
  •  bring out the roasted lamb (The head of the household would wash their hands again and then distribute it out)

All of this was done methodically to remind them of how God rescued them and it was also because they were supposed to pass down all of this to their children.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[b] You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Read 26:21-25

I’m telling you the truth one of you will betray me.

They were enjoying their meal and then Jesus drops a heavy statement on them. This would be a bummer for the disciples as they were celebrating their meal together. It would be like bad news being shared at a Birthday Dinner with the family. Everyone is having a good time and then someone says something very negative that ruins the whole evening.

Of course they all knew Jesus was all knowing so they became upset and began to ask Him individually who it was.

To betray was equal to giving over a prisoner

Eating a meal with someone was a sign of friendship, so to be betrayed by someone you share a meal with would be even worse. The disciples were concerned because they knew Jesus knew them better than they knew themselves, and non of them wanted to be the one who let Him down.

The one who has dipped his hand in with me in the bowl

This was not a good indicator to them because they all were dipping their hands into the bowl and probably could not remember if they were dipping the same time as Jesus.

On the one hand the son of man is passing just as it has been written about Him

One of the things that make the Bible unique is the amount of prophecy that it predicted and came true. Some say Jesus fulfilled over 400 Prophecies

Woe to that man through whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would be better that man not been born

Although God knows what is going to happen we are still held accountable for our actions. God has already seen the world from the beginning to the end and knows exactly what is going to take place. He knows the evil decisions that will be made as well as the good decisions that will be made. In the midst of Him allowing us to make our own individual choices, God sovereignly works His plan of salvation for the world.

So Judas who was to betray Him, responded, I am not the one, am I Rabbi? Jesus told him, So have you said.

Notice that all the other disciples say Lord and Judas says Rabbi. There are many people who think Jesus is a great teacher, miracle worker, leader  and humanitarian but they have never made Him Lord. The other disciples lives were in complete control by Jesus, yet Judas was only going along for the ride as a benefit for Himself. Many people in Churches love the Christian Community and benefits of being around those who belong to Christ, but they never made Christ their personal Lord.

The disciples did not catch the statement at this time, either because they were not paying attention, or because the exchange happened privately. We learn from John 13 that Judas now leaves with many of the disciples thinking that Jesus sent him on an errand.

Read 26:26- 28

Now while they were eating. Jesus took bread and gave thanks. He broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said “Take eat this is my body”

This was the Last Passover that was ending a 1500 year tradition. As the Passover and the Day of unleavened bread symbolized freedom from slavery from Egypt, communion  is now going to symbolize our freedom from slavery from sin.

The Bread symbolizes Christ as the sacrificial lamb who was broken for us.

The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world will now be the ultimate scapegoat for us. As He laid down His life, we are to die to our will, our ways, and surrender to His. (1 Corinthians 15:3,31; 2 Corinthians 5:15)

And when he had taken the cup and given thanks, he gave it to them, saying All of you, drink from it.

Another break in tradition was that normally everyone had their own cup but Jesus had them drink out of the same cup. This was a sign of community and unity.

For this is the blood of my covenant that is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins

A new covenant was prophesied in Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Isaiah 53:10-12 and the shedding of blood, was necessary so that we can have forgiveness of sins. (Hebrews 9:22; 1 Peter 1:2,19)

Luke 22:20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood

We now have a new tradition that Jesus started and we call it communion. This is the covenant the old covenant pointed towards.  The symbolism of the old covenant and the passing of the death angel, the sacrifice of the Lamb all pointed to this time when Jesus Christ would become our sacrificial lamb and pay for our sins.

When we take communion as a church we are looking

Backward, to the cross and the finished act of salvation.

Forward, to the day He will return (2 Peter 3:11-13)

Inward, as we focus on the areas we need to surrender to God (1 Corinthians 11:27-28)

Upward, so we set our minds on the things He wants us to think about. (Colossians 3:1-4)

Around us, as we celebrate together knowing God created us to be a community (1 John 1:7)

Outward, knowing that many have not heard or accepted the good news of Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:26)

And I tell you I will not drink form this fruit of the vine from now until I drink it new with you in the Kingdom of my father.

Jesus knew His death would come the next day and He wanted this new covenant to continue all the way till we eat with Him in Heaven.

After they sang a hymn they departed to the Mount of Olives

John 13-17 is the teaching Jesus taught to them on the way to the Mount of Olives.

Closing

We now have a new covenant that does not focus on animal sacrifices but on the work of Jesus Christ. He was the perfect sacrificial lamb who was slain for us and when we take communion, we remember what He did for us.

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