“And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.’ ” (Luke 22:19–20, NIV84)
Theologians for centuries have debated the meaning of these words but none has debated their significance. With striking clarity, Jesus, on the last night with His disciples, was very clear about His purpose. He took the bread and wine from a meal that had been celebrated for centuries to mark redemption from slavery in Egypt, and He applied them now to His own body and blood. Just as a lamb had been slain every year on the Passover, this year that lamb to be slain would be the Lamb of God. Jesus implored His disciples to take the bread and wine on this Thursday evening as His own body and blood. He forced them, as He does us, to make the connection that in order for there to be redemption there must be death and blood. The entire sacrificial system of Judaism was based upon this concept. But this Passover was to be unique and life-changing. Jesus was offering Himself to die in our place. He was, and is, the spotless Lamb of God who died, once and for all, to redeem and save us from our brokenness and sin.
For whom did He do this? His disciples? Yes! His Jewish people? Yes! But it is important that we understand that what was done on that day over 2,000 years ago was for us as well. Jesus is the payment for the sins of the whole world. He was given and His blood was shed so that we might be set free from all that separates us from our heavenly Father. As you partake of the Lord’s Supper, be certain that God gave of Himself to redeem and to save you. His body was given and His blood was shed for you! Jesus was no ordinary man, and the Lord’s Supper is no ordinary meal. God’s mercy and grace are found at this table. The Lord Jesus offers Himself as the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world.
These words, “given and shed for you,” are not significant only on Sundays when we celebrate the Lord’s Supper. They should be significant to our daily lives. The reason we can get up in the morning and walk humbly with our God is that He first humbled Himself and died on a cross to redeem and save us. May these precious words ring true to your everyday life.