The New Testament records the account of Jesus’ baptism saying “lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him” (Matt 3:16 KJV). The opening of the heavens to Him was a picture of the ultimate purpose for Jesus’ life: the reopening of the heavens to the human race. During what is called the Last Passover Supper with His disciples, Jesus establishes the Christian communion supper. The details of the bread and wine reveal the spiritual implications of His impending passion. The shedding of His blood in death would be the means of restoring covenant access to the Father. Immediately following His death, the temple veil that hid the Holy of holies was divinely rent in half from top to bottom. This supernatural act of God proclaimed a new relationship with God. He now can be approached on the basis of the shed blood of Jesus Christ. The presence of God that was behind the veil now lives in us through the gift of the Holy Ghost. The rest Jesus promised those who come to Him now flows in them through the abiding presence of His Spirit. Believers are established and empowered to know, live for and worship the Father in spirit and truth through the shed blood of Jesus Christ and indwelling of the Holy Ghost.
Daryl Cox/February 20, 2013
Prophetic of a Greater Reality in the Kingdom of God
Jesus’ last Passover supper with His disciples holds the key to understanding the events that were to follow. He explains that the supper was more than a remembrance of Israel’s deliverance from slavery in Egypt. It was prophetic of a greater reality in the Kingdom of God to be established by His death (Luke 22:16). It looked forward to mankind’s redemption from the enslavement of sin. The slaying of the lamb for the first Passover in conjunction with the death of Egypt’s firstborn moved Pharaoh to release the Israelites (Exod 12-13). Moses commanded them to choose a firstborn lamb from among their stocks. After four days of examination, they were to slay and eat it. Its blood was applied to the two side posts of the door and the over head while the whole body was roasted with fire. The death of God’s firstborn Son provides deliverance from sin and death for all. Upon completion of the supper, Jesus chose two elements to establish the communion supper of His death. Christians are to remember the death of Jesus and His resurrection from the dead by partaking of the massa bread and wine (1 Cor 11:24-25). The Last Supper was a revelation of the spiritual realities of Christ’s death. It would make possible the blessings of the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants (Matt 1:1). Jesus is God’s chosen Passover Lamb (1 Cor 5:7). His death releases not just a nation, but men and women of all nations from their debt of sin to God.
Communion: Fellowship of the Body of Christ
Jesus explained the truths of the bread and wine at the Last Supper. They represent the two essential truths of His death. In them both, we witness the awesome power of His blood. Communion, Greek: koinonia, is the fellowship of the Body of Christ (1 Cor 10:16-17). We are made partakers of Christ by baptism in the name of Jesus and baptism of the Holy Ghost. Regardless of nationalities, we become partakers of one Body, Christ. The communion supper also teaches us to recognize and respect the racial and cultural distinctions of our brothers and sisters in Christ. The fellowship of the Body rests on what Christ has done in us by His blood and Spirit. Fellowship follows when we allow the Spirit to release us from inner conflicts. We are given a new identity. We are all privileged to be called the sons of God (I John 3:1-2). Paul records the words of Jesus saying, the bread of the supper represents His body that was broken for us at the cross (1 Cor 11:24). Jesus’ death was a substitutionary sacrifice. In death, He bore our judgment for sin. In His resurrection, we receive righteousness for justification (Rom 4:24-25). The cup of wine represents the New Testament in Christ’s blood. The New Covenant is possible because His blood was shed for us. It means that justice was served for every transgression committed by man. This covenant is not a relationship written in stone as the Law was. It is a relationship provided in the person of Jesus Christ. He is the New Covenant. He is its provision and inheritance. The new relationship is union to Christ through the Holy Ghost (Gal 3:26-29). His blood is the provision needed to put away our sin and stand with acceptance before God. Isaiah 49:8 says, “Thus saith the Lord, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee: and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages.” This passage is about the Messiah. God preserved Him when He raised Him from the dead. He was given in death for a covenant of the people. In Him, our relationship with God is restored and man’s spiritual and natural inheritance is recovered. The Apostle Paul uses the expression “in Christ.” It is union with Him that is the new relationship.
The Blood: Life of the Eternal God
In Acts 20:28, the author says that God purchased the Church with His own blood. Why is the blood of Jesus powerful? What makes it efficacious? God being a Spirit does not have blood (John 4:24). When the Word of John 1:1,14 was made flesh, the incarnation provided the way for God to have human blood. Leviticus 17:11 says “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: For it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.” The blood of Jesus contains the life of the eternal God. Though Christ is human, He also is God. His blood has a life that is superior to both human and angelic life. It has the legal right and ability to release us from the slavery of our sinful nature and the stronghold of death. When the blood of Christ was shed upon the altar of the cross, the status and destiny of every man, woman and the creation was drastically effected. Christ did not receive the fallen nature of men that is inherited from Adam’s blood. Instead, He created His own blood. The eternal life inherent within enables it to take away the sins of the world. The Hebrew word for atonement, kapar, means to cover by way of appeasement; to cancel out; to purge; to make reconciliation. The blood of Jesus had to be shed in death to make reconciliation for sins. Hebrews 9:14 makes an interesting point in the Amplified translation, “How much more surely shall the blood of Christ, Who by virtue of [His] eternal Spirit [His own preexistent divine personality] has offered Himself as an unblemished sacrifice to God, purify our consciences from dead works and lifeless observances to serve the [ever] living God?” The death of Jesus for our sins was the offering up of God’s sinless life for us. The life was human, but it also had the element of His eternal Spirit and divine nature that makes the price for our redemption more than adequate. Christ is a human being. He is also an eternal being. The blood of God in Christ was the ransom for our redemption. The execution of God’s wrath upon Him spares us from eternal damnation and allows us to rest in fellowship with the Father.
The Church: Purchased with the Blood
Paul states that the Church was purchased by the blood of God provided through the incarnation. Christ died not only for our sins but to also make us His people. First Peter 1:2 says “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied. Prior to Creation and Adam’s fall, God chose us to be His people, the elect. For this to become a reality, two things needed to occur: the blood of Jesus had to be shed and sprinkled over our lives and the outpouring of the Holy Ghost. Peter further imparts to us that the blood and the Spirit work in tandem to sanctify us as God’s Elect (chosen). The word sanctification means to make holy or morally pure; to be consecrated (dedicated exclusively) to service. Peter is describing a transformation that occurs when believers of the Gospel are washed in the blood and filled with the Spirit. In conjunction with repentance, the two-fold experience separates us from the sins of our past and the enslavement of the sin nature of which we were born. We become God’s exclusive possession. We are separated completely to Him. Our walk should be one of devotion and service to Him. Sanctification involves the initial act of separation upon the new birth, but it continues throughout our life in obedience to God’s will. Obedience produces maturity of character and results in fruitfulness and the pleasing of the Father. What God ordained before the foundation of the world, the death of Jesus established it in the Kingdom of God and the Holy Spirit makes it a reality in us. Paul says the indwelling of the Spirit of Christ makes us His possession, fit to stand and minister in His presence (Rom 8:9).
The New Covenant: Established with the Blood of Christ
The remission of our sins and the baptism of the Holy Ghost are the unique features of the New Covenant. Because of these two features, the New Testament stands above all prior covenants of the Old Testament. It is an everlasting covenant establish with the precious blood of Christ (Heb 13:20). The animal sacrifices commanded by the Law of Moses did not have the power to take away sins. There are three points to be observed from the sacrificial offerings of the law. First, each year there was a remembrance of all sins which made the worshipers continually aware of their sinfulness. Second, the offerings taught us that without the shedding of blood there could be no remission of sin (Heb 9:23). Third, all those offerings were prophetic of the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ whose blood would take away the sin of the world. The word remission means to forgive, to cancel out, to send or wash away. Under the Old Covenant, God forgave the sin of His people. Until the death of Christ, those sins would remain not purged (Rom 3:25, Heb 1:3). God forgave and justified His people by faith under the Old Covenant while looking forward to the coming of His chosen one whose death would take away the sin of the world. Under the New Covenant, God forgives sin with the new feature of its remission while looking back at the death of Jesus. The Apostle Peter explains that all the prophets testified that remission of sins would come through the name of the Messiah (Acts 10:43). For this reason he commanded the people to be baptized in the name of Jesus for the remission of sins on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:38). The name of Jesus administered in water baptism is the means of experiencing the cleansing power of the blood of Christ shed over two thousand years ago.
Death and Resurrection of Christ: Victory for All
The death and resurrection of Christ forever removed our sins from the presence of the Father. By this one act Christ destroyed the powers of darkness that governed our lives. The Scripture foretold through the prophet Hosea saying, “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes” (Hos 13:14). When Jesus was on that Cross, He was made sin for us. He became what we were before God allowing death to have dominion over Him. When He rose, death’s dominion was destroyed, but it was not destroyed for Himself but for everyone for whom He died. Death no longer has dominion over Him or His redeemed. The sentence of sin was executed in Him upon the cross, and death’s power over Him is abolished. Jesus redeemed us and all the people of faith before the cross from sin and death. In Him, His redeemed are free from the law of sin and death. He has taken away our condemnation and given us eternal life by His Spirit that empowers us to walk worthy of Him. Christ’s death and resurrection is a victory for us all. Those who repent and obey the Gospel will become partakers of His victory. According to Jesus, believers have been passed from death to life (John 5:24). The Word of God promises a continued victory over sin and its fruits to the people of God while in this world. The time is coming when infirmity, sickness and death will no longer be a part of the human experience. The Church is looking for the return of Christ. At this time our bodies will be changed from a mortal and corruptible state to an immortal and incorruptible state (1 Cor 15:51-53). Now, the Spirit of God gives us boldness (confidence) to approach God in the time of need (Heb 4:16). Jesus overcame the world, sin and death. He has given us that victory and promises to multiply it to those who seek to overcome.
By way of establishing the Christian communion supper at the last Passover meal, Jesus revealed the reality of His death and resurrection. The brokenness of His body would be for our transgressions and the shedding of His blood would be for the remission of our sins and the establishing of the New Testament personified in Himself. Jesus was God in flesh made to be our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption (1 Cor 1:20-31). All that is in Him is ours (Eph 1:3). This fulfills the Scripture that in Abraham’s seed all nations of the earth would be blessed (Gen 22:18). We have become partakers of His divine nature, His calling and inheritance, the fellowship of His sufferings and the power of His resurrection. His death makes possible victory for everyone who believes and obeys the Gospel given to us by the apostles (Acts 2:38). We must seek to know Him that we may walk worthy of Him. The name of Jesus and the baptism of the Holy Ghost impart to us eternal life that makes us free from the law of sin and death (Rom 8:1-4). That which dwelt within the Holy of holies is now in us by the Spirit and the shed blood of Jesus Christ. With the heaven now open to us we can be fruitful in every good work until Jesus returns.
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