Thursday, March 24, 2016

Holy Thursday: Blood of the Covenant

Man of Sorrows Jacob van Oostsanen 1510

Holy Thursday (or Maundy Thursday) is when the church commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus and His disciples. The Last Supper is where Jesus instituted the sacrament of Holy Communion.

Some important Scripture verses that pertain to my ongoing contemplation of repentance, penance, and forgiveness.

Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. -

(Matthew 26:26-28 ESV)

And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. - (Luke 22:19-20 ESV)

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. - (John 6:53-56 ESV)

For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread,  and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.

Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world. - (1 Corinthians 11:23-32 ESV)

For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. - (Hebrews 10:26-31 ESV)

The point? To receive Holy Communion without first being repentant of our sins is to receive it unworthily. To receive Holy Communion without discerning the true presence of the body and blood of Christ is to receive it unworthily. To receive Holy Communion without understanding it is for the remission of sins is to receive it unworthily. May God's mercy rest upon those who receive it and teach others to receive it, in an unworthy manner.


O LORD God, Who has left unto us in a wonderful Sacrament a memorial of your Passion: Grant, we beseech you, that we may so use this Sacrament of your Body and Blood, that the fruits of your redemption may continually be manifest in us; Who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Ghost, ever One God, world without end. Amen.

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