Read 1 John 3:19–20.
When teaching on the cross of Christ, the emphasis is usually on guilt or grace. Both are appropriate. The apostles often started with guilt, and then moved to grace (see Acts 2:36–39).
When we come to the table, what do we focus on? Should we focus on the blood on our hands? Or should we focus on the blood from His hands? I believe the latter to be the case.
There certainly are proper times for us to be convicted of our sin, driving us to repentance, prayer, and dedication. However, on the eve of His death, He said, “Do this in remembrance of me.” Paul reminds us, “We proclaim His death.” We are to come in a worthy manner, knowing that He has paid the debt.
No doubt, some will relate that when it comes time for the Lord's Supper, there is a sense of dread. What consists of "do this in remembrance of me"? It often involves picturing ourselves at the foot of the cross, seeing the spotless Lamb of God brutally killed in our place. It may cause us to tremble. It may cause us to weep. Surely this is an appropriate response. However, these feelings must not linger.
Read Galatians 3:6–14.
When remembering Jesus, we remember not just that He died, but also why He died. He died so we don't have to. He died to become our curse.
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:21
Read Genesis 9:7–17.
One time in history, God judged the world through a flood. Once the deed was done, He made His commitment to Noah that His judgment in that way was finished. He flooded the earth once and for all. In one sense, the water was a source of death and judgment. But in Noah’s case, the Scriptures say that Noah and his family were saved by water (1 Peter 3:20).
Similarly, the cross of Christ was a one-time thing. To many, the cross is a source of death and judgment. To us, it is the source of life and salvation.
For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
Read Hebrews 7:26–28; 9:11–12; 10:10–18.
God’s promise is that this was a one-time thing to cleanse the earth and save the righteous.
Read Hebrews 12:1–3
Living by faith is not just a way of life for the Christian, but it is the way of life. The Hebrews author spends all of chapter eleven to explain “without faith it is impossible to please Him” (Heb. 11:6).
He writes chapter eleven to set up his exhortation in chapter twelve—the exhortation to run with endurance the path to Christ. We can do so and not grow weary, if only we will fix our eyes on and consider Jesus carefully. Though he faced the cross and shame, He endured the cross with joy to finish the work God had for Him.
Read Matthew 26:64-68.
As Jesus testified about His identity as the Son of Man figure, the “God-Man” of the book of Daniel, the high priest responded by tearing his clothes. For a long time, I simply considered that as an emotional response, which I am sure it was. However, it was more than that. It was sin.
Read Leviticus 21:10.
As the high priest accused Jesus of blasphemy, he himself went against God’s law, not to mention that he was railing against God’s Son.
Read Matthew 27:50-51.
A few hours after the priest tore his own clothes, God tore the veil of the temple during the ninth hour (v. 46), which was an hour of prayer.
There were a few witnesses to the tearing of the priests clothes, which had implications for his own soul. There were many faithful witnesses to the tearing of the temple’s veil, which has implications on all of our souls.
Jesus is now our high priest forever (Heb. 6:19-20). He does not tear His clothes. In fact, others refused to tear His clothes, choosing to gambled for them instead (John 19:24). But Jesus does remove the veil of the temple, inviting all of the world into the presence of God through His sacrifice.
Read 1 Samuel 1:3; 2:12-25.
It’s typically said that a priest’s job is to be a mediator. He represents God to the people; he represents the people to God. Hophni and Phinehas were worthless priests. They abused sinners’ offerings to Yahweh, and they committed adultery with the women who were meant to be pure servants of God. Could you imagine being a sincere worshiper of God, coming to the temple, and then handing your valuable sacrifice to slimy men like Hophni and Phinehas? You would know in your heart that you had done the right thing, but what was meant to be a pure offering to God was being handled and abused by unworthy, sinful men.
Now, consider the priesthood of Jesus.
Read Hebrews 4:14-5:10.
Hophni and Phinehas were presumptuous, arrogant, boastful, wicked men, who thought they were “all good” because of their lineage. Jesus, on the other hand, meekest of all, took and takes His role as High Priest seriously. And He serves in this position forever! How do you feel about allowing Him to, not just take your sacrifice, but be your sacrifice to God?
At the crucifixion, Jesus would have been surrounded by speech. The Romans would have been giving and following instructions. Some were busy deciding who would receive the “treasures” of the victims. Those who condemned the robbers would have been hurling abuse, just as the robbers themselves were doing. The crowds would not have been able to hold in their reactions to the gruesomeness of crucifixion. The women would have been weeping. But Jesus? As far as we know, He opened His mouth only seven times. Each time is significant.
Perhaps this is the first of His phrases from the cross. How fitting, as the cross is the means for forgiveness.
The first was about spiritual provision. Now, He focuses on physical provision.
Jesus shows that anyone who comes to Him for eternal life is acceptable.
Jesus alludes to Psalm 22:1, showing the true cost of sin (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Only after He knew all other tasks and people were cared for did He mention His own desires.
Jesus came into the world as a baby, completely dependant on His mother and Joseph. Now, leaving the world, having cared for His own mother, He commits Himself to the Father.
The phrase we mourn over but rejoice in.
The immediate result of the torn veil still holds significance in our hearts today. Through the righteousness of Jesus, all of God’s priests have access to the holy place.
Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!
Read John 18:33-38.
On this night, Pilate served two roles: judge and politician. Unfortunately, those two roles rarely have the same end goal. One seeks justice. The other? Well, it depends on the integrity of the politician. Unfortunately, in Pilat’s case, he sought to preserve self.
When presented with the truth of Jesus, Pilate, the judge, wanted to release Him (John 19:4). When presented with the truth of Jesus, Pilate, the politician, wanted to please the crowds (Mark 15:15).
Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?”
So, what are we to make of this question? I believe Pilate really wanted to do the right thing. But the pull of popularity and self preservation were too strong.
But, for us, we can learn from Pilate’s mistake. We can submit to the King, being eternal members of His kingdom, which is not of this world. And, until He comes, let us proclaim His death.
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.
Read Matthew 26:26-46.
We have three major scenes in this passage.
1. SORROW (VV. 26-38)
During the Passover meal, I picture the disciples enjoying this day like most Jews. They, no doubt, would have remembered God’s mighty works to rescue Israel. They also likely had a good laugh, maybe poking fun with one another. Jesus may have joined in. But inwardly, He was deeply grieved. It begins to surface in the giving of the bread and cup.
2. SOLITUDE (VV. 39-41)
In this moment of solitude, what was Jesus thinking? How did He visualize His situation. The word Gethsemane means “oil-press.” Certainly, He felt “pressed.” He had the weight of the world’s sin on Him, pressing down.
He was alone in this. Only He was called to be the Lamb of God. Only He had the power to atone for sin. He was alone in that His disciples were elsewhere, on mission from Him. But He was not alone spiritually. He suffered, but with His Father’s listening ear, and the ministry of the angels.
3. SUBMISSION (VV. 42-46)
In prayer, He submitted to the eternal and divine plan of redemption. In the flesh, He submitted to sinful men, who had no clue what they were about to do in the grand scheme of things, nor what they were going to be offered through His death.
Likewise, in the Lord’s Supper, we have sorrow, thinking of what our Lord went through. However, we also have joy, knowing we have been reconciled to God through death.
In the Lord’s Supper, we often reflect in solitude, with thankful hearts to the Lord. But we also partake in communion as the body of the Lord.
In the Lord’s Supper, we submit to the will and knowledge of the Lord, knowing that it is the sacrifice that truly sets us free.
Read Matthew 26:36-45.
It is sad to find the disciples sleeping multiple times. We give them a hard time, and perhaps they deserve it. However, they also deserve a bit more credit than they receive. Consider that for a week they have been following the very busy Master through Jerusalem during the days leading to Passover. If they were busy not listening to His teachings, they were likely answering private questions and defending Him.
Plus, in the past twenty four hours they would have heard these things (consider the effect this would have on anyone who has spent 3 years with the Master):
We often think that when they fell asleep in the garden, the did so out of apathy. Did they not care enough for the Lord and His situation?
And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground. When He rose from prayer, He came to the disciples and found them sleeping from sorrow, and said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”
They had fallen asleep from sorrow. We get this image that they were distressed with Him. Jesus prayed in His distress. But the disciples cried themselves to sleep. Is that acceptable? In some situations, maybe, but their job was to watch and pray with Him.
They cared deeply for their Master. He had warned them what was coming.
The Lord calls us around His table. As we gather, He commands us, “Do this in remembrance of Me” (1 Cor. 11:25). As I consider the great invitation to share in the blood and body of the Lord, I also share these thoughts with you. Perhaps, they will help you reflect.
Except where noted, Scripture quotations are taken from the NASB. Copyright by The Lockman Foundation