Today’s Scrip-Bit   6 April 2023 Matthew 26:28.

Matthew 26:28. For this is my blood of the new testament (covenant), which is shed for many for the remission (forgiveness) of sins.

And then it was Thursday; Maundy Thursday. And we wish you all a Happy Maundy Thursday! It might not have been such a happy day in Jesus’ life, neither in ours right now, as we contemplate the next few days of tragic happenings, but it was indeed a special one, where He set certain parameters in our faith, and left us several examples to follow. Maundy Thursday was the day in Jesus’ life when, as we say, everything came to bump, meaning that He had finally reached the stage when there’s no turning back. 

On that Thursday, certain things happened that reminds us of the passionate moments of Jesus’ life. And we are invited to remember and celebrate these four events: the Last Supper, the Washing of the Apostle’s Feet by Jesus, Christ’s agony and prayer in Gethsemane, and the arrest of Jesus. At the Last Supper, He offered Himself as the sacrificial Lamb, with such humility and selflessness that makes Him the perfect example of those attributes. 

Now this was a time of the celebration of the Passover Feast in Jerusalem, one of the most sacred days in the Jewish Calendar, reminding them of that time during their slavery in Egypt, when the Angel of Death passed over Egypt and killed every first born son, but spared the Jews, because of the lamb’s blood on the lintel of their doors. (Ex. 12) 

On that night Jesus sat with His twelve disciples celebrating. ‘And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord is it I? And He answered and said, he that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me. The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had never been born. Then Judas which betrayed him, answered and said, Master, is it I? He (Jesus) said unto him, Thou hast said (it).’ (Matt. 26:21-24) 

Oh my people, can you imagine the consternation, the doubt and grief engendered by Jesus’ comment that one of His closest supplicants would betray Him. And the scholars explain:  ‘Jesus’ reply to Judas Thou hast said means “yes.” He that dippeth reveals the personal and intimate nature of the betrayal.’ But that was only the first of several eye-opening occasions on that fateful evening. 

After that, the Good Book tells: ‘And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat, this is my body. And he took the cup (of wine), and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it (drink from it all of you). For this is my blood of the new testament (covenant), which is shed for many for the remission (forgiveness) of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.’ (Matt. 26:26-29) 

Right there we have it friends, the celebration of what we call ‘The Eucharist, or Holy Communion,’ as a memorial of the death and resurrection of Jesus, in response to his words at the final meal he shared with his disciples, ‘Do this in remembrance of me.’ (Luke 22:19 ) Thus, when we receive communion, we remember the sacrifice Jesus made for us, and we grow in LOVE for one another as Jesus commanded us. 

And what do the scholars say about Jesus’ actions at the Last Supper. As per ‘Jesus took bread: The head of the Jewish household was accustomed to doing this during the Passover feast. Jesus gave a completely new significance to the action.’ Then, as per ‘This is my body: During the Passover feast the Jewish householder took bread in his hand and said, This is the bread of affliction which our fathers ate in the land of Egypt,’ meaning, of course, that one represented the other. By His words the Lord changed the whole significance and emphasis of the feast from looking back to the typical redemption from Egypt to faith in the redemption from sin accomplished by His death. 

The bread and wine were only outward symbols of our Lord’s death. Nothing in the gospels indicates that these were to be viewed as a means of grace, sacraments, or that they were physically necessary for one’s salvation.’ Meanwhile, as per ‘The cup: Three cups were passed around by the Jewish householder during the Passover meal; the third, which is probably the one referred to here, being known as “the cup of blessing.” 

And ‘My blood of the new testament taken from the Greek Septuagint version of Exodus 24:8, with allusions to Jeremiah 31:31 and Zechariah 9:11. The covenant in Exodus 24: 8 was sealed with blood. Now, as per ‘Shed for many the remission of sins: Here is a clear statement that the death of Jesus was necessary to enable God to forgive sins. It, in fact, made it right or morally justified for Him to do so.’ 

Ah friends, so much happened on that penultimate day of Jesus’ life that we don’t have time nor space to recount it all in detail. But we do know that after supper Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, (John 13:2-17) which was another eye-opener for the disciples; their Master doing a slave’s job. And when Peter refused, Jesus simply told him: ‘If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.’ (John 2:8) It was a powerful example as Jesus told them. ‘If I then, your Lord and Master (Teacher), have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.’ (John 2:14) That’s a picture of the humility and selflessness we were talking about earlier. 

Then Jesus told them about their being offended by the things that were going to happen to Him, but Peter as usual refused to accept Christ’s words, claiming he would never be offended or leave Jesus. At which point, Jesus told Peter about his denying Him thrice before the cock crowed twice. (Matt. 26:31-35) Then they went into the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus, with heavy heart and sorrowful soul prayed for a reprieve from His Father, but none was forthcoming. (Matt. 26:36-46) 

Finally, Jesus was betrayed by Judas and arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, and all the disciples fled the scene. (Matt. 26:47-57) Then while Jesus was being questioned by the high priest Caiaphas, Peter denied knowing him three times before the cock crowed twice, and the Lord just looked at him, with an ‘I told you so’ look. And Peter went outside and wept bitterly. (Matt. 26:69-75) Yes my fellow saints, Maundy Thursday was indeed a busy and important day for our Lord and Saviour. But you’ll notice that though His soul was burdened, He nonetheless stepped up to the plate and batted the most wonderful innings ever played! 

Now that is a most worthy example for us to follow, especially since we’ve been generously granted what we call our Thursday Blessings, of which we’re not worthy, but have been bestowed them to help us do Christ’s work here on earth. So, let’s declare (yesss!!!) them so that they can be activated. Altogether now: ‘I declare that I am blessed with God’s supernatural wisdom and receive clear direction for my life! I declare today that I am blessed with creativity, courage, talent and abundance! 

I am blessed with a strong will, self-control and self-discipline! I am blessed with a great family, good friends, good health, faith, favour and fulfillment! I am blessed with success, supernatural strength, promotion and divine protection! I am blessed with a compassionate heart and a positive outlook on life! I declare that any curse or negative word that’s ever been spoken over me is broken right now in the name of Jesus! I declare that everything I put my hands to, will prosper and succeed! I declare it today and every day! Amen!’ 

Now it’s time for us to go out and do the work that we’ve been so generously blessed to do! Much LOVE!

…though also God…in His humanity…Jesus was indeed…a man amongst men…a class act…no doubt about it… 

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